The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Joy Set Before Him

It's Thursday before Easter.  Last night I went to church.  Once a month our church has a Refuge Service which is an extended time of worship and communion.  As we are heading into Easter, the service centered around Jesus's last days.

Pastor Kip asked us to read Mark 14, 15 and 16 focusing on the events leading up to the resurrection and camping out in the story.  This morning, Thursday, I did just that.  Well, 9 verses anyway.   I got through 9 verses.

Mark 14 begins with the religious leaders plotting to kill Jesus.  Back door meetings, quiet whispers, covert operations to create a plan to kill Someone the people adored.   Extremely powerful men plotting to kill a poor rabbi loved by the very people the powerful men led.

The first verse tells us the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are 2 days away.  In reading I realize the Passover would begin on a Thursday at sundown.  Today is Thursday.  Today at sundown Jesus would begin the Last Supper.

The Last Supper.  A sacred event I have celebrated hundreds of times.  The disciples hadn't.  They didn't even know it was the Last Supper.  They only knew there was something different about this meal.  Jesus told them to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him.  But He was standing right in front of them.  I imagine the heaviness in Jesus's voice; the questions running through the disciples mind yet no one uttering a single one of them.  What could He possibly mean by this?

Today is Thursday.  Jesus begins the Passover.  I've only read one verse of Mark 14.

It's hard to comprehend the horrific details of the execution.   The betrayal, the beatings, the nails.  I've never been hit, but I have been betrayed.  The pain of betrayal pierces; shaking everything you know to be true.  Your very core is rattled.  The emotional toll is heavy.

Jesus experienced both pains; physical and emotional.  And it began on Thursday.  Today.

My contemplation is on the disciples.   As the night grows dark and violent, fear grips their soul.  I think back to the most traumatic event in my life.  How many moments I stood there questioning what was happening, doubting any of it could be true.  Confused.  Scared.  Yet I was never terrified for my own life.  

The disciples were.

Their rabbi who had done no wrong was being beaten and tried and sentenced to die.  If the Teacher faced this, then surely they could too as they were His closest  friends; His students.  

They ran.  They hid in fear.

They didn't have Mark 16. They didn't know about the resurrection.  There was no fast forwarding to the good parts.  The disciples only knew the terror around them.  And it was real.

Hope was gone.

They didn't know the joy waiting for them on Sunday.  Right now, they only knew hopelessness.  And fear.  Great, deep fear.

My mind drifts to Jesus.  His willingness to being scourged by a Roman soldier.  A military man taught how to punish using methods to bring the greatest amount of pain.  This wasn't a bar room brawl.  This was torture by a trained killer.  What horrific pain and agony He endured.  

A verse comes to mind, "...who for the joy set before Him endured the cross..." (Hebrews 12:2b). 
What joy could be so great as to shadow such deep agony?



The joy so great as to make the agony pale in comparison was the thought of us spending forever with Him.  

For the first time in 49 years I completely understood depth of that thought.   I felt it.  I swam in it.  In humility and disbelief I let it sink in how intensely He wants to share life with me.  The joy of me - of us - drowned out the pain inflicted by a trained killer.  I am far from perfect, my heart is messy and at times I'm not even nice.  Yet the thought of me brought Him joy.

As I celebrate Easter on Sunday, I will sing a little louder knowing the resurrection brings me a taste of that very joy Jesus contemplated.  A joy to be made complete on the day we meet.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Soul Sister

The rental car office was several city blocks away.  Kathy, Karen and I had just departed the train in downtown Portland. A girls weekend in Oregon's wine country promised laughs, wine and a half marathon.  Pulling our luggage behind us, we made the journey through parts of Portland's under-belly.   Soon enough we found ourselves in more desirable neighborhoods and closer to getting our rental car.  We still had about an hour's drive to our hotel.

A glass front to a tiny office being the only indication we found our place.  Concrete walls enclosed a rental counter, two computers and a tiny reception area.  The only color to be seen, or felt, came when our personalities walked through the door.  

Laughter, jokes and the joy of a weekend away with friends started 6 hours prior when we departed town.  Our entire trip took whole new meaning after meeting a fabulous family from a tiny town in southern Washington.  Fran, a woman who's smile never left her face, introduced us to her "boyfriend of 59 years".  A couple traveling with their daughter and grand-daughters helped the hours pass quickly by listening to their stories of love, heartache and adventure.  Together they told stories of their 8 children and 59 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  When we parted ways, they promised to put on a 5k on their property if we'd come down and run it.  Without hesitation we told them yes and to make it a fundraiser for their grandchildren's love of horse archery.

The quiet little rental office, exploded with the energy we brought.  However, there was no one there to enjoy it.  Shortly thereafter, a man, looking much like an old dowdy college professor, walked in the room.  His words were short and to the point.  As Kathy was in charge of securing our rental car, she went through the process of completing the paperwork.

A chime rings and the door opens.   A mother and daughter walk in and come to the counter.  A woman from the back room comes out to help them.  She has a dynamic personality.  The mother-daughter duo and Ms. Personality were fun to watch.  The 3 of us are now determined to make Mr. College Professor laugh; alas to no avail.  Karen and I sit down as the counter is a little crowded with all of us there.

Soon I am called up to the counter as Kathy has listed me as a second driver.  The daughter is also being listed as a second driver.  Mr. College Professor repeats his memorized speech informing Kathy and I that she is responsible for all damages to the car regardless of who is driving.  

Naturally I ask, "Does this include me taking the car at 100 mph and launching it off the city street hills?"    

He glances up looking at me above the rims of his black framed glasses, "Yes".

The daughter says, "MOM!  I'm going to do that too!"

Mr. College Professor doesn't glance up, doesn't acknowledge any of our banter.  He slips me a paper to sign and states, "Lucky for you two every day at 3:00 pm we close the streets of Portland for Second Drivers.  In that time frame you can do whatever you want to the rental cars."

The daughter and I exclaim, "YES!" in unison and give each other a high five.

Mr. College Professor does have a sense of humor.

Ms. Personality leaves to retrieve the mother - daughter rental car.   The mother leaves to use the restroom and the daughter takes a seat. 

Karen calls out my name. From the rental counter, I turn to look at her and she motions with her eyes toward the daughter at the same time she touches the forearm of her left hand.

Looking at the daughter's arm, I see the big, bold lettering of a tattoo with the recognizable words "It Is What It Is".  I was surprised and said to her, "I like your tattoo" and I pointed to her arm.  

She rubs it fondly and says, "Thank you.  I got it to honor my dad."

"Really?  Why?"

"My dad had pancreatic cancer.  That saying was his mantra."

I blinked in total disbelief.  Kicking off my sandal to reveal my tattoo, I said "My mom's too."

She looked up at me, down at my foot, and back up to me.  "Are you serious?"

"Yes.  My mom fought ovarian cancer for 16 1/2 years.  My sisters and I had the mantra tattooed on our feet in Mom's very own handwriting."

"That is so cool."  She stared at my foot. "That saying got my dad through a lot."

"My Mom too.  It was never a saying of defeat, it was always a saying of 'Ok, this is what I'm dealing with, let's go fight it.' "

"Exactly.  Never, ever an admission of giving up."

"Always a declaration of the starting point."

"Yes.  I'm sorry about your mom."

"I'm sorry about your dad."

Our rental car has pulled up and I am called outside by my friends.  We stand at the rental car loading in our luggage.  

The door opens and the mother comes out.  

"Excuse me.  Can I see your tattoo?"

"Absolutely."  I take off my sandal and show her my mom's handwriting.  The mother smiles and looks up at me.

"As I came out of the restroom, my daughter said to me, 'Mom, I just met my soul sister.'  I couldn't believe the story she was telling me.  Losing my husband has been so hard.  What an amazing story you two share."

"This wasn't a chance encounter, and one we'll both share forever.  I'm so grateful we met today.  Tell your daughter I'll see her at 3 for the 2nd Driver Race."

As quickly as we met, we parted ways.  Our journeys going now in separate directions, but forever entwined.

When we set out for our girls weekend away, I never dreamed I would meet my soul sister.  A good reminder for me that we all have stories.  If we stop and take a moment to look at each other, talk to each other and listen you just might find a strong connection you never knew existed; a tie that binds.

And I found mine with a stranger in a concrete rental office in downtown Portland.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

But Peter Ran

This past week we celebrated Easter.  As so, I spent my mornings reading from Luke specifically chapters 22, 23 and 24.  My entire faith hinges on the events of those chapters.

Faith isn't always easy.  Sometimes it's downright hard.  It's dry, it's dusty and it does nothing to quench a thirst or breathe new life into a soul.  It's how I've felt lately anyway.

I become intentional in my reading and I focus on Luke.  Luke is a doctor, and writes as such.  As I read I try and do so with the eyes of a doctor. 

After witnessing the beating and crucifixion of Jesus, I am certain Luke could see the effects of trauma on the others; even himself.  Each of them trying to make sense of what they saw.  

He had his eye on Peter.  Oh dear friend Peter.  At dinner Peter told Jesus he would die for Him.  Jesus told Peter he would deny Him 3 times before the rooster crows.  And he does.  Once the night turns violent and he witnesses the brutality inflicted on his great Teacher, he denies knowing Him.  He denies Him to three separate people including a servant girl - a child really.  What harm could a young girl bring to a grown man?  Yet, he denies knowing Jesus first to her.  Upon the third denial, a rooster crows and Jesus looks at Peter.

But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about."  Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.

"The Lord turned and looked at Peter  And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a rooster crows today you will deny Me three times."

And Peter went out and wept bitterly.

~Luke 22:60-62

Wept bitterly.  His body shook, his soul blackened with shame.  His words had stung with betrayal the One he loved the most.  The thoughts he must've struggled with - did he wonder if he was any better than Judas?  Judas had betrayed Jesus for money, Peter's words betrayed Jesus to save only himself.  

Who he thought he had become under the teachings of Jesus is certainly not who stood in Caiaphas's courtyard that night.  How do you begin to show your deep regret and ask forgiveness of the one you hurt when He has been executed?  

Peter felt hopeless.

Luke saw this.  Luke, the doctor, watched Peter closely.  He was deeply concerned for his friend.  How do we know this? 

The women had gone to the tomb to give Jesus the burial He deserved.  His death was that of a criminal, but His burial would be one of honor, of this they would make certain.  At the tomb they found His body gone.  An angel tells them He isn't there.  He is risen just as He told them He would be.

They remembered Jesus saying this.  They enter where the 11 apostles are together and tell them what they saw.  An angel?  Risen?  He was dead ladies, this can not be.

But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.  But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping in and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
~Luke 24:11-12

But Peter ran.  Luke doesn't mention John outrunning Peter to the tomb as written in the other book, Luke only mentions Peter.  I imagine Luke saw a spark of hope in Peter's eyes that day.  Luke, the doctor, knows the good hope can bring to a body.  Seeing the empty tomb, Peter knew those bitter, bitter tears could be wiped away by the only One who could forgive him.  The sting of betrayal could disappear.  

Jesus being alive brought hope to Peter.  Jesus being alive brings hope to all of us.  The hinge of my faith; our faith.

But Peter ran.  I've thought a lot about those words lately.  The spark of hope I find in those words brought some much needed water to this runner's desert.

May you find it too.