Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Last Piece

Over Christmas I decided to do a couple puzzles as therapy. My good friend, Michele Cushatt says, "it’s cheap two dollar therapy." She’s right. I needed to chill and this was it.

When I work on a puzzle, I always comment to my husband, “…the company didn’t pack all the pieces…I’m missing some.” 

Of course I'm not. I just say it to bug him. And make his eyes roll.

But this year, when I finished the puzzle, I was missing a piece. It was a new puzzle, just taken it out of the box to work on it, so it wasn’t one of my kids or my lack of putting things away. 

There was a piece missing. I looked everywhere…around the table, on the floor, under chairs, etc. Jeff even helped me look. Nothing.

So it’s been sitting on the dining room table for three weeks now because I need that piece to finish the puzzle. 





I can’t put it away. It’s not finished! So there it sits. An eye sore on my dining room table. 

I’ve been struggling lately with too much driving. A good part of my day is spent driving to school, picking up and sports related activities. Because we are split schools right now, that car time has only increased and so has my stress level. I’m not getting to do my daily tasks of laundry or dishes as much as I should and my house looks like a hoarder’s house. Piles everywhere. I've basically dropped out of all my social groups, no activity except...driving. It's preventing me from helping my mom, preventing me from meeting my writing goals and keeping me from getting the exercise I need to keep my arthritis at bay.

It’s been happening since September, and though I try, I haven’t been able to keep up with everything. Add family health complications and I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m upset that things keep happening that are not in my control. I’m upset that friends are dying. I’m upset that I need to help my mother with her brother and don't have the time to do it properly. I’m tired of driving when I think things could be easier. And they could. And I’m tired of blaming people who could help resolve the situation but don’t. I’m cranky and I’m mad. I want a clean house and to be organized. To get back to “normal.”

Yesterday I looked at the dining room table. The puzzle was sitting there like an eye sore. I walked over to it. I once again looked all around for the missing piece. No luck.

And right there and then, God said, “Yep. No luck.”


“You’re not gonna get resolution in the way you want, Loretta.”


“Because life isn’t always neat and tidy.”

But I try so hard Lord.

“Put the puzzle away.”

But it’s not done!

“You are not going to have closure on this puzzle and you’re not gonna get closure with these circumstances.”


“Get over yourself. The missing puzzle piece is a lesson.”


“There is no peace in this world. It is only through Me you will receive peace.”

I’m talking about piece, not peace.

“Ha ha ha. So am I. I will give you peace if you let go of that piece.”

I don’t know if I can.

“That is your choice. But no piece, no peace.”

I think God thinks He’s funny. He’s right. He is.

I’m putting the puzzle away. 

I need the last peace.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fear, Fish and Dancing

We all got “stuff.” 

Stuff from our past that prevents us from moving forward.

Stuff in the present that inhibits us from living fully. 

yoga for worrying The common denominator is always fear. 

Fear is a great motivator. It keeps us from changing because we are afraid of the effort it might take.  St. Augustine once said, “Give me chastity and give me continence, but do not give it yet.” He knew he would have to put in some effort and he wasn’t ready for that. It meant a struggle.

I believe we all struggle with something. Some of us worry about our lives or what God is calling us to do. Some worry about our families and if we’ll survive. Some worry about the safety of our children. Some worry about our country and feel the weight of its failures as the beginning of the end. 

But it’s what we do with that worry, that fear that defines us. We can stand frozen and let it devour us, or we can act and ultimately defeat it. 

How do we defeat fear? Look to the Word. How did Jesus deal with fear?

The gospel of Mark presents a very real situation of fear and anxiety when Jesus tells his disciples to feed a crowd of over five thousand people with five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:34-44). I’m sure the disciples’ response was, “Uh…how do we do that?”

But Jesus’ response is just as relevant now as it was then. 

“Bring what you have to me…”

There is more than one miracle in the story of the five loaves and two fish. The multiplication of the physical food was a miracle, to be sure. 

But the underlying miracle, the underlying theme is that when we give Jesus what we have, it will always be more than enough. When there are insurmountable obstacles, it is then that Jesus calls us to give him what we have and he will bless us abundantly. 

We all worry about different things because we are all made uniquely and different things affect us in individual ways. That is part of God’s plan. There’s enough to go around…

What would happen if we each gave God whatever gifts we had for whatever worry we feel called to fix? For whatever shortcomings we experienced? For whatever fear we felt? Can you imagine what would happen if we all worked God’s plan in sync each tackling a different problem within ourselves and within our society? Talk about “nirvana!”

And yet, that is what we are called to do. Each person in the body of Christ has a task and we can’t allow fear to take that task away from us because it is when we all work together that we create a symphony of love. 

A friend of mine reminded me of the manna that came from heaven every day to feed the Israelites lost in the desert (Ex 16). It was only enough for that day, but it was enough. And today we need to remember that God will feed us bread from heaven every day, and we will be satisfied.  Five loaves was enough for five thousand men. 

We may only have two fish but God promised, through the act of His son’s miracle that those fish will be enough. We can’t worry about tomorrow. We have enough for today.

It is the promise that we will be filled if we allow God to work through us.

My daughter introduced me to a YouTube video that says so much. It’s the “Everything Skit by Lighthouse.” I encourage you to take five minutes and watch it. It's very powerful.

What I noticed was the beautiful dance that Jesus does with us when we work with him. I also noticed how far we fall when we get distracted from dancing with Jesus. I felt the heartache when the dancer tried to get back to God. That is our struggle. All of us. Struggle. With. Fear.  

One of my good friends, Robbie Iobst has written a book about dancing with Jesus. It's called, Joy Dance: 52 Joy-votions that Free your Heart to Grow in Jesus. Robbie shows us the delight we receive when we dance with Jesus. 

We are all meant to dance with Jesus. How do we know?

The last psalm, Psalm 150 gives the final doxology, or final instructions for our lives. It says praise, play instruments and dance. Each day. And that will be enough.