A Five Second Prayer

I recently attended the (2nd) book launch for my pal, Tom Zuba. It was so horribly out of my comfort zone, to walk into an event by myself, but I did. I didn’t know a soul (besides Tom) and sent up the smallest of pop-up prayers and text my hubby that ‘I won’t be long, I don’t know anyone’.

A kind man, with a delightful British accent, approached and introduced himself and began to ask about how I knew Tom. I explained, a mutual friend connected us to help mentor me and be the kick-in-the-pants I needed during my book writing process. Accordingly, the conversation shifted to my book. I have forgotten my “elevator pitch” about Faith, Fat and Other F-Words. I hadn’t forgotten “f-words” but I have neglected it and it’s purpose. I thanked the chap as Tom approached and led me to a table of ”cool people”.

A table with a couple of chicks that were cool indeed. The conversation came easy. The connection made. Smiles aplenty. The conversation again came around to my book. Starting to remember the “baby” I birthed and speak with a bit more passion. A couple of photos with the cool chicks later, I thanked them and set off towards towards the one other human I recognize.

As I’m walking the 15 steps toward my friend, the Kind Brit’s wife approaches me and introduces herself. She’s stunning and articulate and I feel a little small. AGAIN, the conversation shifts to my book and the prospect of a second book. She cheered, “brilliant”! We spoke more and more about being a 50 year old, the life of a mom, and being a chick in general. I’m breathing deep and with a bit more confidence.

I eventually make my way to my friend and hug her ferociously. We chat briefly and walk out of the event together. As we are walking, a kind faced woman approached and asked if I was Annisa. I have a familiarity while looking at her, but cannot discern from where. As she hugs me, she whispers her name in my ear. She was my counselor during some really dark times. Her face shone bright and I am instantly at ease. I had such trauma and darkness in the season I spent with her, I had zero recall of her face. She spoke beautiful things over me and filled my soul.

As I’m walking out to the car, with my friend, I could practically skip I’m so filled with peace and joy. I hug her goodbye and promise to be in touch. It’s only when I get in my car do I realize what has just happened…

That little pop-up prayer was answered, but in His way. It may have been really easy to miss since it wasn’t the solution I asked for, not in the slightest. Many times when we ask Him for a solution, He sends people.

People who will feed your soul.

People who will speak kindness.

People who will cheer for you.

People who will remind you how far you’ve come.

Look around you, realize that the people around you are there for a reason.

They may be only there for a season.

They may be the solution.

They may be the lesson. (Ugh)

They may be the hand that leads you to your next step.

They just may remind you of your purpose.

Thank you God for not giving me what I asked for, but for giving me what I needed.

Who do you think you are?

MyLove and I recently did one of the DNA spit test, send away kit things to uncover our ancestry. We were both oddly excited, not fearing we’d find out we were cousins or something, but you never know in small-small towns! We received our results with no humungous fanfare, but a couple little oddities popped up. Hubby is not nearly as Swedish as he thought he was. And mine well, it was a very neat discovery that connects me back to one of my favorite “dates with Jesus” found in the Book of John. I’ll get to more of that in a moment…

The coolest part of the report is learning about the Maternal Haplogroup to which I belong. This particular group ventured from Africa and trotted off to different regions of the Middle East, which in Biblical times, included Samaria. I tell you all of this because 1) I think it’s cooler than shit & 2) It makes me feel connected to one of the more well-known stories of the Bible.

 “Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.” (John 4:1-6, NIV)

Let’s look at a couple things here, this passage begins with the Pharisees (the extra religious who thought they knew EVERYTHING and were better than EVERYONE) being a bit jealous of the work Jesus was doing. It may have started a bit of a grumbling in the region, and it was just better for Jesus and the Twelve Boys to bolt. The biggie for me is in verse 4; stating that Jesus had to go through Samaria. This is Jesus, folks! He doesn’t have to do anything! Jesus’ had to, didn’t mean He physically had to go through Samaria, it meant He HAD TO go through Samaria.

The other point to note in this passage is the mention of the time. Noon. The hottest time of the day! No one goes to the well at NOON! They go in the coolness of the morning or dewiness of evening. Literally making that the times of ‘gathering around the watering hole’. Women would all congregate at the well in those hours. Many of the women being single and ready to mingle. And that would definitely bring the guys around and maybe some matches made at the well. But back to the story…

“7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) (John 4:7-9, NIV)

This chick ‘just’ shows up at the well where Jesus is waiting. This woman didn’t seem important enough at the time to name, but this woman is about to change history. The big nugget to know here is that the Jews HATED Samaritans!! So much so that they would walk hours out of their way to avoid Samaria so they didn’t even have to see a Samaritan. AND she, was a SHE! It was forbidden to speak to an unaccompanied woman in public! And here rolls Jesus, chit-chatting at the well.

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Now Jesus wasn’t trying to be a jerk, but He wasn’t going to be just busting out who He is right away. He’s not trying to play the Dating Game or be coy. He was trying to see what the level of understanding and her knowledge was.  The chick knew the ancestry of the well and the importance of the giver of the well, Jacob. But Jesus is talking about something entirely different, the Promise of God.

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”’

OooOOooh snap, y’all, Jesus just called her out. FIVE husbands! And she was shackin’ up with a dude she was not married to! Five husbands! I’m not sure I’ve liked five men in my lifetime enough to even entertain the thought of marrying five of them! The relevance of this, if she were a five time widow, she would be viewed very differently. Let’s remember, she was at the well, alone. At noon. She was outcast. She was shunned. She wasn’t having a Mom’s Morning Out with her gal-pals, she was going to the well when she knew NO ONE would be there. No one to judge her. No one to mock her. No one to notice her. But then, Jesus.

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”” (John 4:19, NIV)

A Prophet? Well no shit Chickie! Onward, deeper into the story…

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 4:25-26, NIV)

What Jesus has just done here, He has revealed himself. His truth. His Father’s truth. And the Way! And in perfect timing, the Boys come back from Trader Joe’s from their grocery run.

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” (John 4:27, NIV)

The Boys have spent enough time with Jesus that they don’t ask what He’s doing.

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.” (John 4:28-30, NIV)

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. (John 4:39-41, NIV)

The woman who had been hiding from her shame, from the judgey people and from having to explain herself for the millionth time, left her water jar and took off towards town. She just had to share this amazing news! No longer the Town Outcast or Village Whore or Whatever.You.Want.To.Call.Her, she was now an evangelist. A WOMAN evangelist! Sharing the news of Jesus to a community that cast her out. And did you notice??? They all came out to meet the man she was speaking about!!

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”(John 4:39-42, NIV)

Here’s the cool part, Jesus could have gone in to town and preached to the crowd himself. He could have skipped this skippable woman, altogether! But he encountered her first, to change her world and then the world around her!

They believed!! They believed!! Jesus hung around the community for a couple more days, changing the lives of many people. The community that had shunned her, believed her!  They spent time with this Jewish stranger and his posse, in a land that the Jews hated! A community that welcomed them. Jesus loved them, not for their zipcode or for any other reason but the simple fact that they were the Children of God.

Let’s circle back to the beginning of this rambling, my DNA. The progression of my Haplogroup leads me through this land, at least my ‘people’ were a part of this land. Which is, like I mentioned, cooler than shit, but my DNA isn’t the only connection.

My past, my choices, my life resembles the woman at the well. The shame I’ve carried, may not have been all mine to carry, but I carried it nonetheless. Shame is intended to keep you feeling unworthy and unloved. To keep you tethered to your very own water jar.

The judgement I’ve experienced, may not have come from my heritage, but from life choices. Some of which I do feel poorly about, but no longer feel the shame. The people who wanted to shun me, some of which were religious leaders in whom I believed, in decades long ago, no longer get to point their pious staffs to my chest.

For decades, I believed the Pharisees and the town-folk. I believed the people that said I was unworthy. I believed that I should feel shame and wear it like a Scarlet Letter.

What I love here is that Jesus went to her. He already knew who she was, where she would be and when! That’s why he had to go to Samaria! He knew that he needed to meet this woman, at the well of her despair and love her enough for her to put her water jar down. He knew that He could change her stars just by an encounter with her, but He wanted to change so much more!

Jesus didn’t use the religious leaders! He didn’t stand on a podium like a carnival barker and tell the Samaritans that they were evil. He loved them. That’s all. He loved them enough to invest time with them. To do life with them. And he used a woman with no name to get it done!

Maybe you’re the woman with no name.

Maybe you’re a little bit of a Pharisee, thinking that your way is the only way.

Maybe you’re one of the town-folk that has shamed and kept the unlovable at arm’s length, even more than that, you’ve wanted the unlovable removed from your sight.

I pray that you will put down your jar. Smash it to shards!

I pray that you speak truth and love to someone who’s still holding on to their jar!

I pray that you encounter the Well and find the spring of peace.

I pray that you drink of the Living Water, and allow it to refresh your soul.

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One Word

2017 was the first year I purposefully set a “one word” into being, rather than offering up a well meaning, but never fulfilled “resolution”.

My word for 2017 was Boundaries. I totally lost sight of my word, allowed myself beyond boundaries that were healthy or helpful. My word rediscovered me, revealed itself where I had least expected, and showed me lessons learned while I wasn’t looking.

My word for 2018 can be found in the waiting; for my 3rd grandchild to be born, for a BIG birthday year, and the vision of a 2nd book (yet to be written).

My word can be found in the hoping, believing in better health solutions and for relationships restored.

Yes, I can safely say, 2018 is to be filled with Expectation!

Cheers to 2018! And all that you are expecting!!

Life of the Party

Each of us comes to an opinion based on our experiences and level of understanding. We all can’t possibly understand – everything. We bring our experiences, education and culture to the table, as an offering, in hopes of understanding. Also seated at the table, are other people, with other experiences, education and cultures.

This table can go from a delightful meal to an all-out, table turned over, brawl in a nanosecond. Why? a lack of experience and understanding.

Come to the table…

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You learn much about other humans when you sit at the table and share a meal. Share a culture. Share experiences. Share understanding, however small that plate may be.

 
When the wine is being poured, someone will delight in their experience of having visited that winery on a weekend with their Love. While a person criticizes for having served the right wine in the wrong glass, a guest is staring into said glass, in an internal battle against addiction, terrified of relapsing against an enemy no one knew about.

The first course, a lovely ceviche, is praised by many; but a lone guest is embarrassed about his shellfish allergy and sits quietly, not knowing that the person seated across from him is also allergic and panic riddled.

When the entrée is served, one party goer goes off on a tangent about how unethical it is to eat meat, while another guest remembers the time they were served this same magical meal at their late grandmother’s home as a child. While yet another guest remembers the time they cleaned the same meal from the floor when their abusive ex toppled it for not being prepared correctly.

The salad course is served with “dressing on the side” experience of childhood sexual assault. While some awkwardly and uncomfortably pick at the lettuces in this course, others will find it all too familiar and haunting. And while some may be leaning in to understanding, someone will grumble because So & So used the wrong fork.

When the coffee is being poured, someone will speak of the amazing coffee they experienced in Peru and their eyes fill with tears at the memory of the poor village children they met while on a mission trip. Another attendee smiles in the knowledge they sponsor a child from a nearby village in Peru. All the while, someone is rubbing a scar from a time when the hot liquid was spilled on them.

The dessert tray is being paraded through the door and attendees gasp at the promise of sweet delicacies and indulgences, even while a guest is planning her ‘purge’ of the entire night’s meal when she returns home.

In a time when all our life is ladled out to social media, we believe our experience is the only course that matters. A level of understanding every person’s backstory is not required. All the shouting and name-calling does little to sway our understanding. If anything, it further divides us.

Come to the table…

  • I don’t care what glass you serve the wine in or if it came from a box. Choose to love the person who served it and offered the comfort of their home.
  • I know I’ve made huge mistakes as a parent. Still, I can choose to travel hundreds of miles to sit with an incarcerated woman and remind her that she’s doing a great job crafting a journal or beading a bracelet for her child.
  • You may not understand the war against the mirror and body acceptance, but you can love the heart of the human you see before you.
  • You don’t have to have firsthand experience with faceless demon of addiction to know that it destroys people and the ripple effects live long after the overdose or even sobriety. Choose to have empathy for those left in its devastation.
  • I can’t possibly understand the plight of someone who has been assaulted by a police officer, but I understand the feeling of betrayal by someone who was meant to protect me.

All that having been said, someone is still incensed that I served the salad course after the entrée. Y’all, love is messy and doesn’t follow a Pinterest chart of proper etiquette*. Just love the party. Love the people hosting and attending. Laugh with them, raise a plastic cup of Dom Perignon or your lead crystal stemware of Pepsi. I’ll likely pick the endive out of the salad because I don’t like it but I’ll still hug the cook.

It’s simple, lean in, learn about each other and love them anyway .

 

[*YES, I checked Pinterest for the fitting dinner party courses, in order. Even Pinterest can’t agree on the proper order!]