Sunday, March 24, 2013

a weekend away

birthday girl waits at home.
i must remember to grab her cake on my way from the airport.
she likes chocolate.  my middle girl has turned into a teenager while i was away for the weekend.

kids do that, you know.  look away for even a tiny minute and tiny child turns teen.

it is early, so early, on this palm sunday morning as i sit pressed up against rain-dripping glass in a sleepy south carolina airport.  time to leave. time to head home to birthday girl and her sisters, their wild brothers and, of course, a rather worn out husband.  i’ve been gone maybe a little longer than a mother should be. leaving for a day takes planning; four days, takes much planning and even more praying.  my family has been generous with me:  gifting me with this time away, this time to go back south; to be warm in the weather and warmer still in the dear friendships i’ve missed in these 8 months past.

rain slips fast down the massive window, overwhelming the wisp of gutter below and, oh, i know that great-overwhelming. i know it well.  i, too, am all dripping and wet this morning as i leave behind these friends and this place and this chance to feel deeply the deep, deep love of Jesus.  my eyes watch water fall wild, while lips taste the salt of my own tears on this side of glass.

soul-overwhelmed.  flooded full-up with what His filling brings. what it always brings when we open our thirsty selves to it. what He always desires to bring when we open our fist-tight hands to Him.  soul-overwhelmed in the watering of His overwhelming love. unrelenting rain.  the shower of His dripping goodness.

and, oh my!  how He has showered goodness all over these women this weekend.

why must we travel away to sometimes find what is always available anywhere we are?

it works that way, i suppose.  perhaps it is in the taking us out of that which tangles us up: our own invented distractions.  taking us away from that which tackles us back into our own made-up busy-ness.  on occasion, we must go away.  Jesus, Himself, showed us the need to go. “in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away ...” mark 1:35.

even Jesus traveled far to be close.

a long weekend away is good for the soul.  i probably can’t say the same for the state of my home.  i will return to large piles of laundry.  i will return to the barrage of children who will wrangle and wiggle for my attention; filling me in on the many years i’ve missed in these eternal four days away.  filling me in on their world.  filling me up with their words.  the refrigerator might be empty and floors, undoubtedly, unswept,  but it will be home and it will be good and i am thankful they let me step away for a moment to breath something different. brooms and groceries can come later. birthday girl, her siblings and sweet husband, will come soon.

and i sit pressed up against airport glass, leaning hard into the emotion of my last few days. it’s hard to put into words as i prepare to travel back across these almost spring skies.  i mentioned in my last post i’d be in the south this week for my former church’s women’s retreat.  it was a chance to be with so many of my most precious friends. a chance to be with so many cool women - 650 ladies in attendance!  a chance to sit in pajamas sipping our coffee or cups of wine.  drinking in the beauty of our togetherness. a chance to talk fast and laugh hard and, yes, even a chance to cry soft.  have you ever attended a women’s retreat?  there’s nothing quite like them.  and because my dear gals were pretty much in charge of the event, i was able to hurry along with them and help out. give this girl a job!

this weekend i had the chance to stand at the top of a 20 foot ladder and help friends hang painted canvases across the back drape of the main stage. canvases beautifully announcing the weekend’s theme:  be still.  be loved.  be his.  i had a chance to arrange greenery and gift baskets, decorate old doors, move boxes and run errands.  it is a treat to be involved,  a treasure to be included. i have been gone awhile, but when i came back, they welcomed me with tasks and something to do.  they know me.   i love these girls and i love serving with them, shoulder to shoulder. heart to heart.

holly, ann, sue and me!
i had the chance to hang out with ann voskamp this weekend. i loved getting to know her and her wonderful assistant, holly.  i loved meeting this woman, whose words have inspired and encouraged me in ways too many to count.  eating dinner at her table and adjusting her mic and chatting casually with her as we traveled to and fro throughout the weekend, a pleasure.  i had a chance to hear her heart and witness up close the loveliness of her spirit, not just through black words on the page of a best selling book, but through the blue windows of her eyes. i had the chance to see her tender tears when she heard the story of a child’s cancer and a mother’s pain.  i had a chance to stand singing songs alongside her, hands lifted high to the God we both praise.  pinch me, did this really just happen?  Jesus, thank you for the time to know a kindred spirit, a fellow lover of words, a sister in Christ.

and then to sit under her speaking this weekend. oh my! to hear her words slice clean through the callous of my too-busy body.  to fall silent and still under the pouring out of Jesus as He poured into ann. to watch a woman transformed into God's vessel spur on her sisters in their life transformation of gratitude.  the weeping of the many women in the room.  the rejoicing of the saints in heaven.  the glorifying of God in His goodness.   it was so much, not too much, just so much. all good.

and the wild beat of rain on a sleepy, south carolina, sunday morning overwhelms me.

it is time to leave.  my family needs me and wants me home and i, even more, need them and want to be home. as we begin to board,  a part of me wonders how this mere aircraft will ever fit all the fullness of love stirred up in me on this weekend away. i am so heavy with it. not the burden, but the great blessing.

and even in my doubt,  i know how my God works:  i need leave nothing behind, for He will stretch it all across the skies, a beautiful bridge in the unrelenting rain of His unrelenting love.

and i don't have to leave behind or forget the fullness of this weekend away, nor the warmth of these friends, nor the depth of His love.

... and especially not the chocolate birthday cake for daughter turned teen.

all of it, transformation.

how blessed we all were to have laura story and her band lead us in worship.   
one of the funnier moments of the retreat was when ann asked us to do a "trust fall" with laura!

1 comment:

Aus said...

Welcome home - what more need be said.

hugs - aus and co.