A Father’s Love

cards

I’m sitting amidst my Christmas cards that were so going to be sent Saturday – as in last Saturday. How could a week have passed?!

I sat in the same place yesterday. At my dining room table. Looking at envelopes and cards and various address books – since I’ve never compiled a list so things like this could be easy. No I’m working off multiple directories, an old computer address book and addressed-but-never-sent cards from Christmas’ Past. I guess it must be overwhelming since my current scheduled trip to the Post Office keeps getting delayed.

Yesterday the cards were back-burnered again. And it was a wonderful delay. Because what can be better than being delayed by a friend. That’s not delay – it’s a delight.

Mid-addressing a card, my friend Katie called.

“Hey girlee,” I said, thrilled to be answering my phone – another excuse to avoid.

“What are you doing?” she asked. “Do you have a minute?”

“Where are you,” I prodded. “I was just thinking about you. I grabbed a loaf of Cinnamon bread for you yesterday and meant to drop it off.” (I have such good intentions … and inconsistent follow-through)

“I’m actually on the other side of the park.”

“Can you come over?” The park is at the end of my block. “I have something for you.”

“Absolutely.”

And there the blessing began. We don’t see each other often, but visiting with her is always like a long drink of cool water. In fact I’m still savoring the chat. So much so, I asked her if I could share one of the sweetest moments. She said yes :)

Somehow, in our conversation, we made our way to the topic of prayer. And she told me how her dad, when he was alive, would steal away to a monastery once a year for a weekend of silence and prayer.

She had me at weekend of silence. I’ve been turning off the radio in the car, just to have a few moments alone with my thoughts – that seem a bit numerous and loud of late.

“He would write me letters while he was there,” she told me. “And it was in one of those letters that I found the taste of freedom.”

She thoughtfully continued, “He told me that he never meant to love me according to what he wanted me to be. He said he wanted me to know that he loved me just the way I am.”

“That’s beautiful,” I replied, savoring the words.

“It was. … When he did that, I began to feel safe and free to be who I am. It really had such a profound impact in my life. And I think about his words – his gift – as I love my own kids.”

“Wow.. so good.” My mind raced because that kind of love sounded familiar. “You know, what your dad said sounds an awful lot like the way God loves us. Even though we feel some sort or pressure to perform in order to deserve or to be loved, that’s never been God’s love. He loves us the way we are. He gave everything in order to be able to love that way.” No need to mention the Christmas music playing in the background, or a decorated tree in the other room, or the sea of cards strewn before us as we sat at the dining room table with a fire roaring behind our backs.

“ Yes … my dad gave me one of the best gifts ever in that letter. And it is similar – though not as perfect – as the gift of Christmas.”

Mmmm….

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

This sweet, hand-written treasure is shared so generously from Katie. May the words encourage us to love our kids and understand God’s love the same way. HE has always loved us for who we are, not based on expectations or on what we do.

IMG_6219 … I never have been good at expressing my love, but during my stay here, I’ve come to realize how special you are to me and how much I do love you. I love you just as you are. I used to think in terms of loving you if you’d change like I wanted you to, but no more of that. You’re fine just as you are.

I want you to feel free to do what you want to without having to please me or do what I might want.

You are a wonderful loving young lady.

I am so proud of you.

Love, Pop

Wonderful-Horrible Faith

hot chips Some days, on special days, I stop by Eatzi’s, a terrific local take-out market, and grab a sandwich and a large ice-tea to go. Eatzi’s always has taste-stations for patrons to test their goods scattered around the store. These chips were available last week.

I ate one three.

I got my sandwich and circled back by the chip bowl, pretending to be intrigued and “tasted” one five again. Then I bought a bag.

Oh my word … they are so delicious. Seriously. Those chips are a party in your mouth. They’re so wonderful and horrible at the same time. They trick you into thinking they’re some regular chip. But about halfway through chewing, the fire starts. It’s so hot. It burns but doesn’t consume. It leaves you mouth smoking for several minutes – a reminder of their presence, or maybe a little take-home gift. They balance the heat with perfect saltiness and yummy chip goodness.

As I munched through the bag, literally sweating from the heat, trading agony with pleasure – I considered how those chips, though far from a perfect illustration, are like faith.

I’m convinced that faith, next to grace, is one of the most special gifts that God has given us. It is a vehicle to special intimacy. Faith – being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you don’t see (Hebrews 11:1) – puts into practice our trust in God. Through faith we action-believe what we know to be true, even when circumstances tempt us to think otherwise. The fire in those chips remind me what God said through the Prophet Isaiah,

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43: 1-3

What a beautiful promise, so sweet and wonderful. I want to lean into every aspect of it. Do I believe it? I mean really believe.

It sounds good – until I’m living a circumstance that leads me to chew on those words and feel the fire. But, like those chips, whose heat burns my mouth, the goodness that comes with such trust is wonderful, even in the midst of hardship as we lean into God’s promise that we will “walk through the fire and shall not be burned.” Because He says so. Because His Word is true. He even went beyond figurative speech to literally show us its truth. (See Also: Daniel 3 and some boys that lived through a fiery furnace moment, emerging unscathed, no hair singed, not even a hint of smokey smell.) Because God is Lord over all. No circumstance is above Him.

And circumstances exist. Hard, undo-able, take-your-breath-away, I’m-not-sure-I-can-make-it stuff that really forces us lean into the sure of what you hope for and the certain of what you can’t see just might be the best (and worst) part of our relationship with God. It takes us to the place where we must trust … and believe. And, in doing so, a special intimacy occurs.

Interestingly, the angels have never had faith. They’ve always been able to see his goodness. And when we stand before the Lord, faith will no longer play a role in our relationship. But today, faith is part of it. Have we been given this wonderful (yet horrible) gift of faith so we can tap into unseen goodness, goodness that is within God that can only be known by trusting Him?

I don’t know. But I do know that there are some circumstances that we just can’t make it through on our own. And I guess that’s where trust and faith again play their role.

One such circumstance entered (re-entered) the life of my dear friend Jennifer Clouse yesterday. (My eyes sting with tears at even the thought.) Sweet Jen is a breast-cancer survivor. She’s a dynamo, loves people and loves the Lord. She lives life authentically and without abandon, leaving a wake of encouragement behind her – pretty much everywhere she goes. She was diagnosed with cancer shortly after giving birth to her son Lincoln – a sweet surprise to her and her newlywed husband Scott. That was three years ago. A little over 12-hours ago Jen was admitted to Baylor hospital where she was told that the cancer is back. And it’s not good. The pain of a broken rib due to the ugly disease is being managed while they figure out what’s next. They’re hurting – physically & emotionally.

What do you do?

Jen, with her heart breaking, stands firm. Not on her own foundation, but on the One who never wavers, whose provision is always sufficient – even when circumstances beg us to fear otherwise. As she struggles to put one foot in front of the other – because she will press on like she always does – she stands strong on her faith. Joyful, truly joyful, while crying at the same time.

And therein lies the mystery: how can something as wonderful as faith (sinking into all the goodness of God’s sufficiency, provision and love) be so horrible at the same time? Trusting that God has it covered is hard. (What an understatement.) But almost inexplicable good abounds in the midst of such trust.

I’m thankful that He never said we we must go it alone. I guess that’s another interesting aspect of faith – relationship.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

To experience his sustenance and promise – amazing. To live through the challenging day-to-day, agonizing.

Wonderful, horrible faith.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

Please pray for Jennifer, Scott and little Lincoln … and my other friends Karen and Lezley and Susan and Greg and… (fill in the blank) as we all are or know someone leaning into faith’s wonderful-horrible.

These guys below literally banked their lives on faith. How wonderful – yet how horrible it must have been. But oh, so wonderful. They were never alone.

And (King Nebuchadnezzar) ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,[e] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.

World Hello Day

images-5

Two things that should probably never be in the same sentence are “Kay Wyma” and “Cafeteria Cashier.” It has something to do with my Overtalkers Anonymous recovery program (kids waiting in a line with their food trays just wanting to pay and sit down – they don’t have much interest in chatting) and my technological challenges.

A couple years ago, our Middle School cafeteria went the way of the computer. And after having been a cashier in the cash days (where we had to do the math in our heads – let’s just say I added a good $20 at the end of my shift to help my drawer end well after all my mistakes), I’m happy for the electronic upgrade. But somehow I still manage to get lost and struggle to give a kid the right change and press buttons that result in booting me out of the system.

But no worries, plenty of  real help – as in the amazing gals who staff our cafeteria – backs me up and gets me back on line in a flash.

One of the nicest benefits of the computerized cafeteria system is that each time a student flashes his I.D. in order to pay for his meal from an on-line account, his (or her) picture and name pops up. So with every kid, I get to – by name – cheerfully yell after them, “Have a GREAT day – Molly”, or Zack or Sam or Sally.

It’s Middle School, I know. They don’t like to be called out or have attention, especially from a mom, drawn their way. But I still do it. I want them to hear their name. Said happily, positively. Sure they might cringe on the outside, but at least for a moment they can feel known in the sea of people. And the truth is, I almost always can see a faint little smile as they walk away to find a seat. Some of the kids even stop and shoot me back an, “I hope you have a great day, too.”

People love to hear their name. It warms my own heart when I look up as someone has said, “Hi Mrs. Wyma” and I see a friend of our kids smiling at me.

Dale Carnegie always said, “The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of one’s own name.” Why? It means you’re known. And in today’s world, more than ever, people need to hear their names.

Sitting in that ginormous cafeteria, filled with loud sounds and a sea of people, I loved hearing the workers behind me sporadically calling out names, “Hey Dooley – How’s your day?” And even better, watching sheepish smiles erupt.

Today is World Hello Day. (Yes there is such a thing.)

November 21, 2014 is the 42nd annual World Hello Day.  Anyone can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people.  This demonstrates the importance of personal communication for preserving peace.

So take the opportunity, use this special day to practice. Say, by name, hello to people next to you. To the grocery clerk, to the Chick-Fil-A cashier, to your mailman, to… Just do it. And make your family do it too. It will make everyone feel a little better.

As if on cue, I got into my this morning to see this.

photo

My daughter’s nametag from an event she attends once a month. Her name, printed – not handwritten upon arrival – on a name tag does more than tell people who she is. It reminds her that she belongs. Doesn’t it do the same for you?

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

Life’s Clutter Drawers

second-tier-junk-drawer

To dream the impossible dream… :)

“When did more than napkins fill this space?” I asked aloud as I tried to pry open an overstuffed drawer.

I looked at the kid next to me who simply needed a pencil to finish his homework. Pencils and hair ties – no matter how many we buy, they disappear. Where in the world do they go? I guess not in the drawer where I thought I had put them. But how would anyone know. We can barely open it.

At any time over the last year, I could have stopped what I was doing, emptied the drawer, thrown away junky peripherals and organized it. But we all know that wasn’t going to happen. Too many plates in the air. I can do it tomorrow.

Tomorrow. I guess tomorrow has come and gone a few times.

We’ve lived in our house for about a year and a half. Before we moved here, we lived at my folks house while we remodeled this house. So, we actually moved twice. Once into storage and once here. And each move involved major purging. I finally let go of toys or clothes I was “saving for my grand-kids” and plenty of my own “someday” things. As in, “I’ll be back in that outfit again, someday.” Things that might date back almost 20 years, five kids, and a gazillion fashion trends ago. Suffice it to say that even the resale shop didn’t want most of it.

“People really don’t wear these things anymore.,” the Clothes Horse Anonymous sales clerk told me.

“But they’re so nice,” I protested. She didn’t hold back any punches.

“Sorry, Honey. I don’t think these styles are ever coming back.”

Awkward.

Okay. So, we purged going out of our old home and moving back in. Because when you’ve lived for six months without all the treasured necessities, it’s easy to conclude that they aren’t a necessary as I thought.

As I struggled to close the no-pencil drawer, I wondered how we’ve come so far from the clean, clutter-free, organized drawers (and closets and bedrooms and, … ) that were ours such a short time ago.

I’ll tell you how.

It’s called out of sight out of mind.

And it goes a little something like this. We walk in the door from wherever and we put our stuff down on the counter. With seven bodies in our home, that can be lots of stuff. We take care of most of it. But the little junkie things that may or may not be worth keeping or attending to stay on the counter. Then we clean up, but don’t know quite what to do with the little knick-knacks that warrant being kept, but don’t really have a spot.

So, we slide them into the drawer. No worries. It’s only a few things and I can still grab the napkins that are so neatly stacked in my clean drawer. And that works for a while. I feel a teensy bit bad messing up my lovely napkin drawer, but each time I justify sliding peripherals into it by telling myself I’ll deal with it tomorrow when I have time.

Before I know it, I can’t even find a napkin because the drawer is home to so many other things. Next, I convince myself that napkins should never have been in the drawer to begin with. It was destined for junk-status to begin with.

Digging through the mess, most of which is stuff we need and use, I couldn’t help but think of how we have junk drawers in life. Like relationship issues that conveniently put aside until another day. Because in the moment, the issue might not be that big of a deal. We can deal with it tomorrow. It doesn’t matter. Just this once. Until the tomorrows build up and all the minors have morphed into majors and we can’t get to the bottom of the drawer due to well-intentioned avoidance.

It’s not just relationships. All I have to do is look at my email in-box to see very real things that need attention. Most of the reasons that warranted my deal with it tomorrow approach were reasonable. I just didn’t know exactly what to do, or the issue wasn’t on fire, so tomorrow’s fine.

Dealing with something tomorrow is absolutely fine. How many and how long I put things off is probably the bigger issue. I never minded a few things in that drawer. But as we conveniently shoved stuff inside, I didn’t realize how full it was getting and how hard it would be to find what I needed until we could barely pry it open. Keeping accounts short, keeping the clutter at a minimum, sure can alleviate stress. Especially as the holidays approach and we open life-drawers that may have been overstuffed for a while.

Because the truth is … I feel better – physically, emotionally, spiritually better – with the drawers less cluttery. The nicest part, no one is asking for complete clean AND it’s not a road you have to go alone.

“Why don’t we just clean it out?” Jack asked, still in need of a pencil. And I thought why not? clean it out – today. Sounds good. Of course he added, “Will you pay me?” I laughed, grateful all the same to have someone rummage through the “junk” with me.

Especially when a sister walks up with an offer to help. “We don’t need that…. Keep those… What in the world? For sure get rid that…”

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has been so sweet in checking on me to be sure I’ve been okay since I’ve been Blogosphere MIA. All is good. Some things in life just take some extra time. Thanks for not giving up on me. XOXOXOXO