Thursday, July 25, 2013

Roses. You. Lunch. Go.

Ever have conversations with yourself?

Yeah.  I do, too.  

They are some of my favorite dialogues ever.  They can also be some of the scariest conversations ever.

Our minds are an interesting place.  It's never a good idea to stay there for too long on your own.

Anyway, here's what mine looked like today:

Me: "You really need to run errands during lunch, Christie. Really.  1 hour without children.  A To-Do List on steroids.  You have places to go.  You have things to do.  Be a big girl and go do it."

Me: "But I want to go with Ree and watch the Camp Gifted performance."

Me:  "No.  Run errands."

God:  "Stop and smell the roses, honey.  I created them for you to enjoy."

Me: "Huh?"

God:  "Stop and smell the roses, honey.  I created them for you to enjoy."  (When I just don't get it, God puts the lesson on replay for me.)

Me:  "Um, God... have you seen my desk at work?  I can't find my chair or my keyboard.  And... have you seen my debit card?  Yeah, me, too.  It's at home... and I need to go to the bank to get cash today because I can't get back until tomorrow.  Planning this out makes my head hurt, Lord... and my shoulders are up by my ears... and they won't go back home where you originally put them."

God:  "Exactly.  Roses.  You.  Lunch.  Go."

Me:  "But I haven't had lunch, God, and I'm going to be hungry if I skip lunch..."

God:  "GO."

And so, I went...

I left my desk and was immediately reminded of Matthew 6:26 (aka "the birds of the air verse").

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

On the way to my car in the middle of the sidewalk there was a cart.  I skipped it as I thought they were selling something and I was in "go-mode."

My God, however, is good at getting my attention and had a plan.

He had another cart on the other side of the street and I HAD TO PASS IT before I got to my car. :)

In the cart?  Free lunch.

Oh how He loves me.  (He loves you, too, but this is my story! Haha...)

So, I grab my free lunch and get in the car to go see a program called "Camp Gifted" that highlights the gifts of students with special needs.  The kids are 12 years old and up and today was all about showcasing what they learned through their camp experience and highlighting what is fantastic about them... or so I thought.

Today was about showcasing them, but it was also about TEACHING me.

I arrived late and almost turned around.  The self talk was something like this:

Me:  You are lost.  Go to the bank and run other errands.  This was a bad idea.

Me:  God said to go enjoy wonderful stuff... like His kids.

Me:  But, I'm LOST and these signs say they will tow my car if I don't have a guest tag.

God:  Oh, sweetie.  Ask directions and ask them about the tag while you are there.

And so, I did...

15 minutes later I enjoyed the most beautiful showcase of diversity, love, genius, truth, and more.  The presence of God was so rich in that room as I watched a chosen group of people share their wisdom.

This group of students that the world sometimes short changes because of their "disabilities" taught me more in 20 minutes than some of the "best and brightest" (per the world's terms) have taught me in a lifetime.

They spoke of diversity.

They danced with pure joy.

One of my favorite quotes from today was, "Someone told me no one would listen to what I had to say.  I said what I had to say anyway... Then I learned that one voice can give strength to another voice... and another... and another."

God gifts us with dreams that He places in our hearts.  I have a dream that revolves around special need families and single mom families.  Today reminded me that the dream was not there by chance.  It was placed in my heart by God himself and now I'm faced with a choice.

Do I choose to give strength to another voice?

Do I choose to stop and smell the roses-- trusting that God will provide the resources?

Do I choose to walk through fear and temporary obstacles-- and to ask questions when needed-- to get to God's beautiful moments?

And the answer today is, "Yes, Lord.  Use me."

Now it is YOUR turn. 

Roses.  You.  Lunch.  Go. 

Do it.

May you make mistakes, crave peace, and dance in grace... because He sure does love you.

PS- No parking ticket!!! :)

Copyright © 2013 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 19, 2013

May You Make Mistakes

I had a brilliant 1st grade teacher.  

A truly, truly brilliant woman who overflowed with grace and seemed to intuitively know how to reach every person she met.  I was no exception.

I walked into her class a very timid student and I vividly remember thinking that everyone else in the room knew how to read words like "the" and "this"... and a lot of other words.  

I remember that so clearly because I did not know how to read those words.  

Never would I have brought this to anyone's attention, of course, but it was very significant in my mind's eye.

Truth be known I was terrified of making mistakes and what kind of grand mistake had happened that I did not know how to read, yet, and many of my friends did?

Here's where Ms. Morgan's brilliance impacted my life...

She involved me.  She said she needed a rocking chair for reading circle and she let me and my parents send ours from home.  I got to fill that need for her and my class and felt incredibly important as a result.

I still couldn't read, but it was clear these people needed me.  

Next?  She inspired me by speaking my language.  She immediately knew that I was an overachiever and that "a contest" would be a big deal to me.  So, she had me see just how many books I could read in one six week period.  My start was slow (she was teaching me to read as we did this), but she spoke encouragement and assurance as she taught the lessons by day and by night sent home reading level appropriate content that fit my personality.  

My confidence rose as my reading skills were born.

Finally, she leveled with me.  She told me I would make mistakes.  She told me I was not perfect and that no one expected me to be without flaw.  The best life lesson she taught me, though?  She said, "Christie, we learn from our mistakes."

And then she made me repeat that mantra...

"We learn from our mistakes.  We learn from our mistakes.  We learn from our mistakes."

Every time I would make a mistake in class, she would ask me to repeat that phrase.  She wanted me to remember this and in her gracious, loving way would accept no less than said recollection.

It was the best gift that anyone could give me.  

30 years later, I am still embracing this lesson.

Some days I remember it well and can lean gracefully into what a friend in my adult life later told me ("Christie, God made one Perfect Man and you're not it") and other days I am completely astonished at how much I detest making mistakes.  I tend to make even more mistakes on those days.  (God's really great about putting a lesson on Repeat Play until I "get it.")

One of my goals in my writing and in my life is to embrace imperfection and to speak grace into the lives of my readers and my family.  Doing so reminds ME to not only write about that grace, but to LIVE IT with my family, friends, coworkers, and more.  By writing it out, I gift myself with the permission to apply it to myself, also.

What is crazy, though, is that as a Christ follower, I have a guarantee for my learning moments... and I always have had this guarantee.  It's packaged up in Romans 8:28 and here's what is says, 

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, 
for those who are called according to his purpose."

All things.  Not just some things.  ALL things.  God didn't mince words, have a Divine Typo, or retract this later in the book, guys and gals.  

He said ALL things and that is what He meant.  

So, what's in it for Him?  He only asks that I love Him, hear Him, and follow His plan for my life. He just wants to love me in all of my heap of mistakes and right smack dab in the middle of my learning curve.  That's a pretty sweet deal, folks.  (Side note: If you aren't already taking Him up on this one, there's some room for thought here.  The world doesn't offer deals like this!)

I have a note from Andy Andrew's book "The Traveler's Gift" on my desk at work.  The first line of it says, "The Buck Stops Here."  That means when I make a mistake, it's okay to confess it.  It's okay to say, "Yes. That mistake is mine.  What can I do to make this right?"... and then to take that action or make a living amends by trying to not repeat the same mistake in the future.  I can do that with the world.  I can do that with my God.  No need to cover, cover, cover and hope that no one finds out.  News flash?  We're not perfect.  We're human.  Welcome to the race.  (Can we all wear some of those fun socks that folks are wearing at 5k runs these days?  Just a thought.)

Seriously, though, being candid about my mistakes is part of the beauty of the process.  I'm convinced of that.  It takes away the notion that I'm supposed to be perfect and celebrates the fact that I know the One who is.. and He loves me, messes and all.

Here's the deal, folks...

If we don't make mistakes, there is nothing from which we can learn.

If we don't make mistakes, we're stagnate in this lifetime.

If we don't make mistakes, we're certainly not creating any successes beyond what we're already great at... and what kind of horrific self imposed jail of limitations are those?

If we don't make mistakes, we never get to know the grace of God as up close and personal as we might, otherwise.

If we don't make mistakes, we don't take any chances... and we rob the world of a star.

You're a star.  

So, for the sake of all that's shiny and awesome, please don't rob us of the opportunity to watch you shine. 

And one more thing... 

You don't have to seek mistakes out.  They'll happen naturally.  That's just how life goes on this side of heaven.  If you know my Jesus, you'll have eternity to dance around and live in perfection when you get to the mansion He has for you up there. (I've already requested a roomful of chocolate in my mansion.  What spells perfection better than THAT?! Right?)  While you are here on earth, though,  do your best, but don't live in terror of the "uh-oh" moments.

While you are here, LIVE and let God and the rest of us love you in your normalcy.  

It will make the rest of us feel a whole bunch better if you aren't perfect.  For real.

And if you have kids?  Read this to them.  Make sure they know.  Imagine living life without the fear of making a mistake.  Wrap that up in a bow and hand it to your kids.  They are worth it!

May you make mistakes, crave peace, and dance in grace- 

Copyright © 2013 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

You Need A Blog

"You need a blog."

Um, okay.

Recovering Poster Child for Compliance reporting for duty. Gold star, please? (Sorry. There is a Teacher's Pet/overachieving type in there, too.  I tell her to chill out on a regular basis.  She's annoying, but lovable.)

PS. You can still give me a gold star if you wanna.

I've had a blog in the past, but it's always been under the lock and key of complete anonymity. 

--You're curious now, aren't you?--  

While I won't satisfy that curiosity :), I will share about them in a general way.

My other blogs had self imposed rules and regs with the main one being "no editing."  I poured myself out with a vengeance and did a little dance of freedom and empowerment because no one ever had to know that it was me.  No matter how mad, sad, glad, or crazy I was feeling, I wrote it and didn't edit out the "ouch factor" because that blog was mine.  That healing was mine.  That space to not worry about hurting feelings or shocking someone into silence (or not) was completely mine... and I loved it that way.

It was a me, me, me phase of my writing.  Any hint of God wanting to "use it" was dismissed. I was simply too raw with emotions to think I could be used back then.

And (whether you believe in God or not) you know what is crazy cool about that last paragraph?

God still honored my selfish phase.

He used my writing to bring healing in my own life as He ministered to my heart and soul.  He taught me who that young woman was that was angrily banging (or crying a river) at her keyboard.

All the while I continued to fight Him tooth and nail about my even remotely ministering to His kids around me... and being the consummate Gentleman, He gave me that choice.

What a Guy, huh?  :)  I tend to think so, too.

Anyway, I started this post in May... of 2012.  I'm really into not making rash decisions these last few years. Apparently I got a little carried away with that and have been reflecting on this choice for over a year.

You might call that procrastination.  I like to think of it as a creative license to stall.  You say tomato.  I say tomatah.

I'm not sure what all I'll be writing about here, but the "rules and regs" for this blog are much more fun.

It's a stress, guilt, and perfection free zone.  It's a place called Grace Avenue and I believe you'll like it here.

It's how I'm trying to live my life and I promise you it's contagious.

So, hang around.  I think you'll like it here, too.

May you make mistakes, crave peace, and dance in grace- Christie

Copyright © 2013 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.