Sunday, September 28, 2008

What's That Smell?

It was a BUSY day--one filled with a long string of appointments--but I wanted to be a responsible middle-aged woman and get in my gym time! So I dutifully went to the gym right before I had a Dr's appointment. My work out that day was especially beneficial and I really worked up a sweat. So, on my way to the Dr. I squirted a couple of shots of my favorite perfume on my neck so I would give off a more pleasant aroma. Wrong! Instead of smelling like a tropical paradise, I wreaked like body odor laced with coconut! AGHHHH! The only thing positive about this experience was that my honest confession to my doctor about why I smelled so bad made him laugh really hard. But he was probably glad when I was gone so he could air out the office.

Smells are interesting things. Bad smells are usually made from things that should be gotten rid of--trash, sweat, germs, food that's gone bad, etc. The odor doesn't go away until the source of the smell is removed. Even if you put a mountain of perfume on it.

I've been guilty of doing that spiritually sometimes--many times without even knowing it. I've sprayed on a happy Christian face while I still have pride or unforgiveness inside, and I'm sure anyone who was half-way discerning could detect the stinkiness I was trying to mask. The stench didn't go away until the source of my pride and unforgiveness was taken care of.

On the positive side of this smelly issue is the fact that we can also emanate a pleasant odor when we are clean. Scientists tell us that the sense of smell is one of the most powerful in building memories and establishing them. You pass by someone wearing a certain perfume and suddenly you remember your grandmother, because she used to wear the same scent. The smell of turkey roasting in the oven takes a person back to pleasant Thanksgiving meals with their loved ones.

I'm trying hard to regularly take inventory of the stuff I carry inside of me and get rid of the smelly things. Sometimes that's easy and sometimes it's not. In the places where I struggle I need God to help me release those things--sometimes gradually, to Him. It's His forgiveness that makes me clean. No matter how dirty or filthy my issues are, He's happy to take them and fill the empty places with more of His essence.

I remember as a little girl that sometimes before my Dad left for work he would give my sister and I a hug and kiss. After he left I loved it because I still could smell his after shave on my skin. I guess we smell like the things we embrace.

As I spend time embracing my Heavenly Father, I want more of Him to rub off on me so that when people encounter me, they are reminded of Jesus.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Entrances and Exits

I've always been fascinated by hospitals and airports. It sounds random , I know, but I think I've figured out their common attraction for me. They are both places where people are making entrances and exits. Both are usually vulnerable times of change when deep things--good or bad--can happen inside of a person.

I've been going through a lot of entrances and exits in my own life the last couple of years--mainly in my family. I remember 3 years ago at Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, when my husband announced to me that it would probably be the last time our family all celebrated together because of the ages of our children. My heart sank. He was right. Our oldest daughter was getting married and our next daughter was starting college. Even though we still had two younger children who would be at home for several years, I had to get used to the idea that everyone being present for holidays wasn't a sure thing anymore.

Although a lot of the releasing I've done in my mothering the last few years has been with a heavy heart to begin with, I'm finding that each exit brings new entrances with it. Exit: My daughter gets married. Entrance: I gain a fabulous son-in-law who makes our family so much fun. Exit: My second daughter leaves home for college. Entrance: A new dimension to our relationship where we sneak away to do lunch sometimes, or chat over a cup of coffee. With every successful release there is a growing appreciation and sense of awe at how faithful God is to help me and my husband raise healthy adult children. I'm getting more comfortable with the rhythm of children coming and going. I am excited for them as they go out to experience new jobs, new places, etc. and I am equally as thrilled when they visit home to tell me all about it.

I guess our home has become more like a landing strip for our older children. They've taken off in a sense, but they make regular return visits.

As I've watched my children fly after their high aspirations I find that I am also inspired to pick back up some of my own deferred dreams. Seeing their courage to face life inspires me to want to do the same in certain areas of my own life. My kids cheer me on in these areas and tell me they are proud of me when I take a risk. Once again, I marvel at the wonderful irony. Somehow these precious children who I'm learning to release are the very ones who are helping to release me into the next chapter of my life!

So fly, Hannah! Fly, Abby! You go, girls! I'm right behind you!