I hope this Monday finds you enjoying the crisp fall breeze that we are enjoying here in North Alabama. It is a balmy, not as humidified as usual 80 degrees which in my estimation is the absolute perfect temperature. Not hot enough to bring on a full on sweat and yet not so cold that you are at a loss if you forgot to grab a jacket.
I hit the ground running today after returning from a fabulous weekend with my new girlfriends from Town East Baptist Church in San Antonio, TX. I had the great thrill of being bible teacher for their annual retreat which was held at T Bar M Ranch in New Braunfels. Hands down one of the nicest conference centers ever. Food was fabulous, rooms and grounds immaculate. I highly recommend. The only thing I don’t recommend is texting a friend back home that you are at T Bar M without adding any explanation. Since Alabamians don’t understand ranch/brand talk, she might think you are at a *bar* and get really concerned about your emotional and spiritual state of being.
I can’t say enough to thank Town East PW, Donna, and her girls for loving on me just like I’d always been one of them. Donna and I met when I taught the ministry wife sessions at the Jacksonville FBC Pastor’s Conference back in January. One of the things that hurts my heart the most about itinerant ministry is getting to know women just long enough to want them in your dailiness and then being forced to leave realizing you may not actually lay eyes on them in person again on this side of glory. Seeing Donna again was a great treat and being a PW myself, I don’t take it lightly that she entrusted her precious girls to me. That’s a big deal and though it sounds like cliche’ and total cheese, I was and remain honored. I explained to her that every group I meet shares a lot in common but there is always something that sticks out about each one. Theirs was the overwhelming gift of generosity. I ain’t never (hear that in my best Southern twang) seen so many presents and door prizes and thoughtfully selected gifts from Beverly (the organizer) to all the women who supported her in the planning of the event. I came home with a very special necklace chosen to remind me of the theme of the weekend, a suitcase full of other loot and they are shipping me a beautiful tea set they gifted me that wouldn’t fit in my bags. I can’t wait to have a bonafide tea party! Love you girls dearly. Remember, keep your foot in the bucket! *grin*
In other news, my laptop gave up the ghost. Apparently the video portion of my motherboard has displayed it’s last. That means the eloquently crafted post I had written on calling (I can say that now that it will never see the light of day) is now sitting on the server of the computer repair guy until I decide what to do about ordering another. Ironically, that is the first post I’ve typed in Word because I was trying to avoid losing it whilst using a spotty internet connection and I lost the thing anyway. One thing to which I am not called is technology. It hates me.
What I desperately wanted to communicate on this idea of call was a mini-epiphany I experienced while working like a mad woman on a new book proposal that will be going to my beloved editor this week. (The subject? Leah: The Buy One, Get One Sister. More on that later!) I was particularly discouraged one day because the words weren’t coming like I wanted and I’d pretty well convinced myself that book writing was not a part of what God wanted from me or else it wouldn’t be so stinking hard. And then a thought came to me: Calling is 5% inspiration and 95% back-breaking work. The idea for a book for example is all unicorns and rainbows. I needed to be reminded the writing of it – the hacking of the words and the deletion and re-writing of the same paragraph fifteen times – will most often find that unicorn exhausted and muddied and crying in the rain by the time the last edits are made. I have to get comfortable being a dirty unicorn.
(I have no idea where that thought came from. It wasn’t a part of the original eloquence and no doubt will trigger some very interesting google search results. For that reason alone, I’m leaving it in.)
On that day, the one on which God was essentially telling me to suck it up, be strong, and do the dirty work, I got up from the table after typing several hours because it was time to get the kids. I stood, looked at the book-covered table, and cried like a baby. Not because it was time to get the kids. Not because I had wrecked the dining room. But because it fell on me that I’d spent that time doing the thing that brings me so much joy even though I feel like tearing my brain out of my head in the midst of it.
I wonder if you are smack in the middle of something incredibly hard that requires more perseverance than you think you have and wondering if you are really called at all? Something that was all romance at the beginning but has settled into something not very beautiful? It could be the call to motherhood: that swaddled baby is all ribbons and sweet-smelling lotion until it’s screaming at 3 am and pooping on you for added effect. The call to overcome the diagnosis: “I’m going to beat this thing!” feels possible until the nausea of chemo takes over. The call to disciple: you can’t wait to get into your Sunday morning bible study curriculum and share God’s word until that first class when everyone is staring at you with a quizzical look in their eyes without adding a word to the discussion.
Take heart, my sister unicorns. Calling will make you cry. If it doesn’t, it may not be a calling at all.