Monday, May 31, 2010

I woke up by the ocean today

The first thing to reach me is the rhythmic beat of waves on sand. It is the essence of subdued strength, not loud, but forceful. It is carried on an untainted breeze scented with brine and mingled with heat, tangy upon my tongue. As I draw closer, I see the vast expanse of undulating blue. Sunlight sparks off the surface and white lace adorns the swells. This is the kind of beauty that man seeks to create, but in the end, can only interpret. Yellow sand gives way to warm aqua, which fades to something too alive to be called navy, too deep to simply be blue. The depths extend farther than the soft curve of the earth's side.
But the ocean is better understood when you let the waves ripple over your feet, past your ankles and knees, and then let it cover you. A cool fluid embrace wraps around every inch and wicks the heat away. Perhaps it's the constant movement, that reliable ebb and flow, but it is impossible to become immune to the refreshing feel of cool against skin.
The swells, even mild ones, have the power to lift my feet from the sand and set me, laughing, where they please. There is a fearful wonder in these moments, knowing that just a flick of the ocean's power is more than I can withstand.
And God made it. He made it. He thought of the salty breeze, He planned the rush of waves, He plumbed the vibrant blue depths. The ocean is a great image of Him. Deeper than I will know in this world. Bigger than I can fathom. Always consistent, yet never quite the same, He sparks in each life as He chooses. He lifts us off our feet and draws us away from the scrape of sand and surrounds every inch, until all we can feel, all we can see, all we can think, is Him. He holds discoveries I haven't imagined and even beyond the horizon, He is there.
Thank you, God, for you. For the images of yourself you've planted in your earth. And for the moments when you reveal them. All my love!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Remember that one time?

I got a vaguely insulting work correspondence today. My response was not one of peaceful prayer for the senders...okay, just felt guilty and paused to pray...nor was it to think in four letter words about them (I'm not a redhead anymore, so tantrums are off limits.) No, I wrote a snarky email to my boss and he replied in kind.
Clearly, I'm not the example to follow, but I am grateful for humor! How else are we to deal with the little hurts in life? I mean, until we get to the peaceful prayer stage, of course.
I am so glad God gave us the humor bit of himself. If you think about it, He's hilarious. How else would you explain a possum playing dead? Ticklish spots? Or, to be mildly vulgar, gas? It's funny.
Laughing is one of the most pleasant emotional releases. Especially when you get that deep belly laugh that doubles you over, makes it impossible to speak, and doesn't fade until your cheeks hurt. The moments that, days later, make a fool of you when you bust out giggling in public because something random reminds you of the incident. Even now, I grin as I remember a few of my own.
Those moments can be the seeds that grow into bonds. They offer communion between two people in a state where the walls are forced down by the punch of shared glee.
And, they're just straight up fun.
So, thank you, God, for laughter, for the funny in this world, and for that time in the car when Nat and I were driving past Smith's Old Bar.... :-)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just a few more minutes...

Tomorrow is the start of a holiday weekend. So, that made today sort of a holiday-eve. I'm not sure if that was responsible, but for whatever reason, morning was just not happening today.
Enter, snooze button. A glorious little invention. It doesn't make the sunrise go away, but it does give my half-awake brain a chance to come to terms with the impending day...or not. I hit it three times before I finally rolled out from under the quilt.
I am going to try to redeem this shallow, albeit true, blessing. Sometimes we're just not ready for the next step. Even if "it's time". Even if we always thought we would be. Even if we reach out with the intent of hitting end on one phase of life or development, and our hand falls on the snooze instead.
Truth is, God knows when we're ready. And He's okay with it when we're not. I heard John Ortberg say it's impossible for God to be disappointed in us because He made us. He is never surprised by where we are, since He knows us better than even we do. Sometimes He knows we need to snooze. I like this idea. It makes the undefined time between the start of this writer's journey and the feel of a crisp new book in her hand seem intentional. Pleasant, even.
Ten minutes in the morning (or ten units of God-time...please don't be years) can make all the difference in the world. Even if I don't really get any more sleep, I feel a little bit pampered and ready for a new day.
Snooze on, my friends. Snooze on.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Today was a computer day at work. I didn't have any meetings scheduled, I just had a lot of paperworkish items that have been nudged aside until the hypothetical stack was about to topple.
So, after a few quick checks of my gmail this morning, I looked at what was waiting, checked gmail one more time, and then dove in. It took a couple of hours to assemble a service plan for a large client. I had to do a little research, dust off the strategic corner of my brain and engage in some planning, and then make the whole thing sounds professional and appealing.
When I hit Send and emailed it off to the CFO, I sat there and smiled at my screen for a minute. The feeling of accomplishment that comes with drawing a line through a task is just...satisfying. Like the old Coke commercials, when everyone takes a fizzy sip and then goes, "Ahhh."
My small group is reading Ecclesiastes and verse 2:24 says "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God." It made me realize how great that is. To find satisfaction in work. Not because it has changed the course of history, not because no one else could have done it, not because anyone will notice. Just because we're made to be productive beings, and to accomplish even the mundane satisfies that facet of our purpose.
My pastor said once that he thinks Heaven will be like Earth, only way better. That we'll have jobs and roles. It sounds a lot better than floating on a cloud with a harp. I think God finds joy in work and accomplishment and He gave us that piece of Himself. So, while I'm a huge fan of vacations (yay, three day weekend!) I'm grateful for work. For a role. For the little things I can feel good about checking off...when I finally run out of valid reasons to procrastinate.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cookie dough moments

I am sitting in Starbucks trying to sip my tea latte instead of popping off the top and guzzling the whole thing. It tastes even better because it was free. That's right! A free tea latte! My roommate is not a coffee girl and she was given two gift cards recently, which she kindly bequeathed upon me. No extra dish duty or anything, just a straight up gift.
And just now as I've been sitting here, doddling instead of typing, two strangers smiled as they passed. A small thing to do, but one that made my day brighter.
On a podcast today, Joyce Meyer talked about carrying little goodies, like gift cards with notes that say God cares about you, and handing them out to service personnel who aren't expecting them...just to be nice and show God's love.
So, what is today's blessing? Generosity. Specifically, God's generosity as demonstrated by His people. It can be generosity of time, of gift cards, of prayers, of things (a lady in Cambodia straight up gave me her necklace when I told her it was pretty) or even generosity with compliments.
In a world where human relation is generally caught in a wireless network, little person-to-person blessings are like the cookie-dough ball in the ice cream of life. (Hmm, this is what I get for blogging hungry...) Moments, small in and of themselves, that make the whole day sweeter.
I know that I don't probably tell people always when they shine on my day, but I sure do savor it. It makes me want to be a blessing to others, too. Lord, show me where I can be cookie-dough for others. Thank you for your people. All my love.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Feel of Thunder

As an engineer by degree, I like to know how things work. Right now the sky is just a sickly, near-dead gray, but we're supposed to get a thunder storm. So I just googled lightning. Apparently, the initial cause of this phenomenon is still a mystery. The suspect line-up includes solar winds and ice particles, so I'd say we're not on the cusp of solving that little mystery.
But, even if we were, I'm not sure how far that would take us. It is one thing to sit and discuss, in long boring words, the advent of a bolt of lightning.
It is quite another to see the darkened heavens torn asunder by its raw power. In that instant, everything seems to slow except the burning spear of light. Drops of rain pause their descent to watch. Even the voice of thunder can't keep up.
I really hope we get the storm today. There is nothing like a Georgia thunder storm. The ground shakes and the air crackles and the rain sheets the world away. It is absolutely impossible to think of weather with detached curiosity when your heartbeat reverberates with the thunder. It makes me feel like a small part of a large world. It strips away the pretense of explanations and reminds me what it is to be powerless.
I reminds me of the magnitude of God, as captured in Job 38-39. He, like his lightning, is one thing to speak of and quite another to experience. He created this force that can shake the very earth. He made my heart that skips when the shock of thunder vibrates through the air. He came up with the very idea of rain. He knows the initial cause of lightning, being its Creator and all, and He also knows that head knowledge can never explain what the storm really is.
I think He made it that way on purpose. On days like this I am reminded of His awesome power and am humbled and honored before Him. Thank you God for lightning, thunder, rain. For storms and their power, which when compared to yours, is like a wind-up trinket. Thank you for being bigger than it all. Please let it thunder today.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Uniform Greatness

The sky was gray. The road was open. And I was headed toward home. I started my journey at 2:20, and skipped my typical hourly diet coke break in favor of hitting the connector (aka a small taste of purgatory) before the mad rush of the suburbs would begin. If I was careful to keep it at ten over the posted limit and didn't stop for gas, I hoped for an ETA of about 4:50.
Okay, so my traffic-free plan was optimistic at best, but I was focused on the prize. Even when the swollen clouds let loose, I dodged the hazard lights of my fellow road-warriors and only slowed enough to give the windshield wipers a fighting chance.
The rain eased, the semis freed up the fast lane, and I was truckin'.
Until I was within a stone's throw of the perimeter.
Hundreds of tail lights laughed at my timetable. A few minutes later, a fire truck lumbered through traffic. An ambulance followed behind it.
To be honest, I didn't think much of it at the time. Clearly there had been an accident, and it was far enough ahead that I couldn't see where the emergency crew stopped.
For at least thirty minutes I dutifully avoided eye-contact with other drivers as we all inched forward.
And then I reached the site. It was a mess. I shot a prayer up for the injured, and continued to merge over to get around the coned off area. As a rule I try not to rubberneck (I wouldn't want anyone to rubberneck if I was in that situation), but the wreck was bad.
And all around it, in the lingering drizzle, were the firemen and rescue crew. The ambulance had gone, which I think is a good sign. They only have to hurry for people who have a shot. But I knew, as my car slipped past, the men working the scene would be there for a while yet. My workday was almost done, but theirs was still young and screaming.
I am a huge fan of public servants, and it's not because of the uniform...okay, not just because of the uniform. Anyone who is willing to take a job that puts them at risk in order to help others is a hero in my book. They put in long hours and work hard, and I'm not sure how often they get thanked. But that isn't why the do it. Firemen, policemen, EMTs, and military personnel see hard things and yet they have the drive to continue to do their part to improve the world in which we live.
So, today I'm just thankful to them and for them. May God bless and protect the crew on I-20 and all the public servants and service-people the world over.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Two Wise Men...and me

I got up at five am (not a normal occurrence) and was in my car by six, watching the sun come up over I-20 as I headed East. Traffic was very light for Atlanta, and while the Impala buzzed along, my mind raced just as fast. You see, a big opportunity/decision/change looms in my near future, but just out of the grasp of my control. Maybe next week I can hook an index finger around it and pull it into my sweaty mitts. But for now, not happening.
Since I can't proactively address it, I just think about it.
Over. And over.
Until the voice in my head gets high-pitched and squealy and the little wrinkle between my eyebrows threatens to set up permanent residence. By ten 'til seven, I'd tuned out my book on CD to focus intently on the parade of exclamation points marching in an impotent picket-line across my thoughts.
Then, the voice of wisdom entered, stage left. Or more likely the Holy Spirit, since I'm pretty sure that by then wisdom had lost it's voice from shouting to be heard to no avail (See Proverbs 2). So, Holy Spirit says, "You know, Kimberly, there are Godly people in your life with more experience and, ahem, a better perspective, that you could talk to about this."
Oh. Yeah.
So I did. I called and talked to two folks who helped me see the scenario for what it was: a scenario. I have options. I have freedom. I have time.
And I have a God who will honor my desire to follow Him. He will not tell me to run head first into a brick wall and laugh when I fall down. He knows his plans for me (see Jer. 29:11) though sometimes I wish He'd email them to me instead of this "one step at a time" biz.
So, today I'm grateful for voices of wisdom. I love that God gives us so much. His word, His Spirit, and His people.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shady with a chance of sun

It is a gorgeous day in Atlanta. The sun has full reign of the sky and yet the temperature will only manage to climb to around 80 today. Perfect.
Being the creature of comfort that I am, that is still about ten degrees too warm for ideal outdoor jogging.
Which is why I love shade. There's this great two-mile stretch of road that ambles through a neighborhood of grand houses with shade trees older than my grandma. They hover over the sidewalk so when I run there, I only have to dart through the occasional patch of direct sunlight.
How great is that? And it's even better because I missed the I-love-exercise gene. I think endorphins are a myth. They don't even sound real.
However, between my superpath, my iPod and a little gumption scraped from the bottom of the will-power barrel, I'm confident I'll make it out today for an hour. And I'm confident I'll be glad I did. (I did get the I-love-being-done-with-exercise gene.) Not that I couldn't hit up the gym and run in place at a predetermined speed, but there's just something so much more lively about running in the great outdoors as God intended (except, he probably intended it to be done barefoot.)
So, thank you, God, for thinking up the sun and thinking up the concept of shelter from it. For whoever planted the old trees back in the day when coffee was a nickel, and for that mixture of power and peace that comes when I get back to my car at the end of a run.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seeing Freedom

I just got back from a soul-changing visit to Cambodia. It went beyond the way I live, to who I am.
I will try my best not to blog about Cambodia ad-nauseum, because the trip blog is still up and you can read about it there. But, I am going to take this one day and hit the one thing that, from this very close perspective, indelibly marked me.
1975. A woman named Sameoun is forced with her husband from her home, with a two month old baby in her arms. They walked for days and were sent to a rice-farming camp. Sameoun and her husband were missionaries, and even under the near-starvation and tangible fear instigated by the communist Khmer Rouge, their faith never wavered. Nor did their purpose. They had no guarantee they'd survive--sometimes God's people don't--but they had peace with that uncertainty because they knew their God.
He is good. Always.
Today Sameoun in her fifties and she's got about 96 orphans who call her mother. She and her husband make their home in the 1-bedroom apartment above the rice storage room at an orphanage and regularly commute between two others to bring love and hope and Christ to kids whose backgrounds range from poverty to much, much worse.
These kids, who have every excuse to founder emotionally, are strong and bright and free.
Because our God is bigger than even the worst this world has to offer.
That is a big truth. Huge. And yet easy to miss.
I am so glad that Sameoun didn't miss it. She has lived it. She carries herself with a peaceful dignity and a quiet joy. She shows it to these kids, who are flourishing like the tropical flowers that garnish their home.
I saw it and I wanted it. It's not that I have no excuse for pain or for sadness in life. Every life on earth are touched by these to some degree. It's that I needn't be scarred by it. I can be free!
It was a powerful thing to witness this truth actually lived and it gave me a great hope and a great conviction to live like that. Free.
My Dearest God, thank you for freedom! For winning! May you dwell ever more in me. May I shine You to the world. Please bless New Life Orphanage.