DEAL or NO DEAL

Ireland Global Summit 264

Never. That’s the best time to ask God a question for which you truly do not want answer. As my husband often says, the second Tuesday of next week…

So why would anyone in their right mind, when browsing innocently through the blog of a new friend, upon seeing the post do you need a zebra coat to feel content, investigate this?

Of course, I don’t need  a zebra coat to feel content. I feel fine. I’m content.

I am.

I don’t need anything to feel content. Well…except maybe, just…you know a few things. Like a warm bed, and food, and…and…my make-up, and Chi straightener…and…wait a minute! Those are just basic necessities, right? I mean it’s not like I should give those up. I mean how crazy would it be to give up basic things like, um say…clothes.

Like, maybe a 365 day challenge to not buy any clothes for a year. Did she say a YEAR? because, you know, a year is long time. A whole lot could happen in a year! I might need clothes. New clothes. Or at least, new to me clothes. Does underwear count? What about shoes, or worse…purses! Gasp! 

Oh my goodness, how would one survive such terror? How? It’s so…taboo. And I’ll admit, when I first saw it I steered away. Oh yes I did mam. Right away. There will no conviction happenin’ here. No siree Bob. This girl happens to like clothes, and she is staying as far away from that challenge as possible.

But God said no. Go read that post, he said. Look at the Zebra coat Pamela Hodges passed over, (with a purple lining no less!!!) and at a Goodwill so you know it was affordable. She didn’t need it to feel content. Aren’t you content He said. Hmmm?

So back I clicked, and I did read on. And then I did a very dumb thing, I even told her I would pray and ask God if I should join her! Yes! I know!? I am, in fact, CRAZY. Mostly because I was already about 500% sure I knew exactly what God would say (again, did I  mention I was thinking irrationally…don’t ever assume to know Gods thoughts. Just don’t. Trust me on this. Please…)

And also, as an aside, don’t ever out loud say you’re gonna pray about something, especially if you *think* you already know what God will say. No, really. I mean that. Cause here’s the thing, God does not require your direct inquisition for His spirit to move. Nope, nope, nope. (And here I insert the most heartfelt LOL. ever.) He will often tell you what He thinks even if you don’t ask.

And because God loves me, when I opened my devotional book the next morning this is what I found…

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.…(Matthew 6:30-32)

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There it was. Plain as day. Smack dab in the middle of page 86, an answer. Unfortunately, God wasn’t done speaking to me on this subject. He was going to meddle. Yes, I said meddle.

Ever had God meddle in your affairs? The only thing I can think of is the end of every episode of Scooby Doo I watched as a child. You know, when they finally caught the villain, Daphne would whip the mask off his head, everyone would gasp, and then he’d say (verbatim) “And I would have gotten away with it too! If it wasn’t for these meddling kids!”

Am I the bad guy? Because I buy clothes? Because I like buying clothes? What if I stop? If I stop buying clothes does that make a good guy? What if I don’t buy them? What if, they are free! What if it’s not clothes I buy, or acquire, maybe it’s something else? Hmm? What then God?

What if it’s…scrapbook paper? Or neat pens (I like neat pens…)? Or maybe it’s fancy wall decorations, or cookware, or a lamp shade, or soft bedding, paintings? Paint? More art supplies in general? Antiques? Can I get more antiques Lord? Please? I just loooovvvveee me some antiques! They’re old God, you know someone has to have them. Why not me? Or tools! My husband loves tools, if I am buying for someone else is it okay? Because my mom has these dogs…they could maybe use dog sweaters? Blingy bowls? Special expensive food? I don’t know…training?

Is everything bad God? Common’! What’s the point? Can’t I just buy whatever makes me happy?

Oh, wait…is that what you’re saying? That I shouldn’t find my happiness in things, but in You?

Are you saying that it’s NOT about what I buy or don’t buy (with-in reason…) but about the state of my heart and my relationship with my Creator God?

Why didn’t you just say that?

Oh…you have. I just haven’t been listening.

Well, I am now.

That dress in the picture up top might have been a deal breaker for me. I took that picture through a boutique window in downtown Dublin, Ireland, in 2009. I’ve not forgotten the dress and the way it shimmered, the simple style and cut (if you can refer to something rhinestone encrusted as simple.)

But, I don’t feel God is calling me to give up clothes buying for a year. And honestly, after many tears, I realize that He is calling me to a life made more simple through intention living, including how I spend, save, and feel about my material resources, including clothes. I plan to buy less, give more, and most importantly, give God His rightful place as the supreme source of joy in my life~

Still don’t think I’ll see that dress at the Goodwill though. Darn it. 😉

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A side note on beauty.

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If possession is nine tenths of the law, I own a piano. Truthfully, the Yamaha that sits in our dining room (and has for over ten years) belongs to my eldest son. It was willed to him by my step mother, who decided that rather than waiting for him to enjoy it after she was dead, she’d let us have it while we could all enjoy it. And we have. There probably isn’t a week that passes with out the beautiful sound of music filling our house.

The other day I read an interesting fact about pianos that changed the way I think about the beauty they create. I don’t know if you’ve ever wondered what a piano is made of, but if you have, it’s wood, felt, steel, and iron. Not much to ponder on there, except for what I read about the felt. See, felt is a tightly knit wool, and the particular wool used in pianos is said to be sheared on a cold day, as the sheep’s wool is tighter in the cold, lending you a tighter felt. The tighter the better, I understand. So your felt, basically, is a wool with tension.

For some reason, suddenly, all I could think about was the shearer. Some old man, dressed warmly, out at the crack of dawn, mist clouding his face as he exhaled, just to shear a sheep in the cold. Was he happy, that old man? As he watched the sunrise break over mountains and into a field of diamonds glittering like a thousand angels, did he think about the music? Did the sound of notes being exchanged in the dance of melody warm him from the inside out? Was it hope, the dream that someday, somehow, his unseen, unknown, sacrifice would make something beautiful?

Is that what this feels like? Writing, blogging. At times, it seems this cold place of solitude where our only hope is that someday our unseen, unknown, dances with words will make something worthwhile, something of beauty. Is it the gamble that it often feels? When we work in this place because, the tighter the better, is it that very tension that sometimes pulls us apart?

It’s interesting that the place in which I read about the piano, the memoir of Mary Cartledgehayes; Grace, brought together so many elements of what I’m facing. Weird, but not really, I know how my God works; bringing all things together to speak truth to me. She talks about leaving her first pastorate and the struggle with simplifying her life as she fought the feeling that, “The things I’d believed in, worked towards, and achieved seemed insignificant, the sacrifices a waste of time. I had been called into the ministry, given my heart to the church, did everything I could to conform to and respond to it’s demands, but it wasn’t enough; no matter how much I gave, it wasn’t enough; It couldn’t be enough because I wasn’t enough.

(emphasis mine)

Her transparency with a broken heart caught me. And then she spoke again about the piano and that made it call come clear.

A standard model [piano] has 230 strings, each of which carries a tension of between 150 and 300 pounds. The total string tension is thus approximately thirty tons.

Quick, how much is that? Yeah, that’s right, 60,000 pounds. Does it feel like that for you too?

In her book, The Seventh Dragon, piano tuner Anita T. Sullivan says this about the tension:

“If a piano were to relax, as we humans keep trying to do, it would be something else altogether. A piano is full of suppressed desires, recalcitrance, inhibition, conflict. Yet because it’s opposing forces are carefully balanced, they are still. And the still space, though small, is where music can spin it’s way through into our dimension.”

Where is your still place? Is it small? Is it the size of a mustard seed? That’s all He needs, you know.

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Luke 17:6.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Really, God?  …Nothing?

There is beauty in you. It’s waiting, just waiting, to come out. From that still, small place, somehow, you have to find a way to let it come out. To ‘spin it’s way through into our dimension.’ That music is there for a reason and someone is waiting to hear it. The whole world is waiting to hear it.

I know it’s scary. Believe me, I know. There is maybe nothing more terrifying than to let your words out into the universe alone. (tweet that)

But it can be done. You can do it. Your place of power comes from, and is bound up in, a place of both great tension, and great peace. A knowing. A still.

“Be still, and know that I am God”

So play the music, write it. Live it.

Be it.

Because, in the end, the truth is, it’s not what you know, but Who.