Boundaries

I don’t like being told “No”. A sign that says “Do Not Touch – Wet Paint” is an open invitation to reach out and test the true wetness. Too many times, “Do Not” becomes “I Dare YOU” in my mind. In many cases, I don’t like boundaries.

When I was six years old, my aunt pointed out some pretty pink flowers during our family Easter egg hunt and said “Don’t touch these flowers.” I probably wouldn’t have paid any attention to them if she had not been kind enough to point them out to me. I kept wondering why I couldn’t touch those flowers. They were really pretty. I decided my aunt was just being stingy and she should really share. So, I went directly to the hot pink flowers and grabbed one. Unfortunately, these particular flowers were attached to a prickly pear cactus. Instead of the pretty flowers, I ended up with two handfuls of cactus spines. I cried as the spines were pulled from my fingers and as I heard my aunt say “I told you not to pick those flowers!”

Sometimes boundaries are necessary. They keep my dogs in my yard and hopefully other dogs out. I know to stay on my side of the road and I try to park my car between the yellow lines. Cell phones are not welcome in movie theatres (I have been know to sneak a quick peek!) I’m expected to be at work during specific hours. A married person is off-limits, no matter how unhappy or “free thinking” they claim to be. As a single-again, I’ve learned to appreciate the art and even the importance of “No.”

Personal boundaries are the most difficult for me. I have no problem erecting a high wall around my personal space. It keeps me safe and secure. I find that I want to push out of those boundaries and test the life I see living around me. But, you see, I have some issues with knowing the difference between the prickly pear flowers and the plain gardenia. Too often, I’m drawn to the drama and the excitement and totally miss the quieter opportunities that God has presented to me. And then, when the drama and excitement leave me in tearful pain, I run from even the most joyful and delicate choices. How does one love completely and unconditionally and avoid the pain? You don’t.

I believe the key is to love unconditionally. There are flowers I can appreciate and enjoy within limitations. While they may be beautiful, I’ll never get too close for fear of the spines or odor or other irritants they harbor. But the flowers that I love completely, are the ones I can hold and sniff and enjoy up-close. I am aware of how delicate some of the flowers can be and I handle them carefully. There will be times that I’ll come across a thorn or a bug hidden among the petals, but it doesn’t change the complete adoration I have for their grace and beauty.

Relationships are similar. There are some people/relationships that are toxic or even dangerous for me. I can appreciate the people involved and love them for who they are. But, I cannot lose sight of all that God has for me and get caught up in the excitement of the life they represent. I may to be in their world, but I cannot be a part of it. Thankfully, there are glorious opportunities for friendship that God has placed in my life. They remind me that it’s worth getting up every morning. These are the friends that I trust and invite behind my own personal walls. The few that I love completely, without reservation. Our only boundaries are trust and love. These are relationships that take time and effort to cultivate. They don’t always look exciting or even interesting, but the end result is indescribable.

I would like to think I’ve learned how to push my boundaries as I’ve gotten older. I try to see the beauty in everyone I meet. I still look for thorns before I rush to pick a flower.

And, I still leave finger prints in the wet paint!

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Five Minute Friday – Grateful

Featured Five Minute Friday:
Here’s the deal. Five Minute Friday. You go find the little prompt at the wonderful Lisa-Jo’s blog, set the time and write for five minutes, and then just stop. Where you are, no edits, just publish raw words.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on the word:::

Grateful
GO

Some mornings, I look around and wonder if it’s really worth all of the hassle and effort. It would just be easier to stay in bed and hide from the world. I listen to that inner voice that keeps telling me that I’m not good enough or that I’m failing in some way. But, I’m reminded of the truth in Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” And, I remember.

I remember that no matter how sad I may feel at time, God is there to lift me up. He provides friends and encouragement. I don’t need to spend time thinking about what was or what will never be. God has my life planned. He has “eternal pleasures” for me.

I remember the gifts He has already given to me: a good (if too short) marriage, true and faithful friends that listen and encourage, beautiful kids that have joined with me to overcome the grief that death brings, a supportive and loving family. How can I doubt?

When life doesn’t go quite as planned (or even reasonable close for that matter), I am still grateful. Not always for the events in life, but definitely for the experiences, the learnings and the love.

I am grateful.

A Best Friend

I hear the term “best friend” or BFF in conversations all the time. So what is a best friend?

A best friend:
Loves me for who I am and sometimes in spite of who I am.
Will be there to laugh and to cry.
Picks up on my moods and is honest when I’m just being a whiner.
Recognizes when I need a hug and steps up to the challenge.
Will defend me to others when necessary.
Is an encourager when I’m discouraged or frightened or hurt.
Never hesitates to tell me what I need to hear even if I don’t want to hear it.
Celebrates even the smallest victories.
Spends time with me “just because.”
Is never embarrassed to be seen with me.

This is the kind of friend I want. And, it’s the kind of friend I want to be.

A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes. (Proverbs 17:17 NIRV)

Celebration

We celebrated this weekend. The focus of the celebration was the Twenty-Fifth anniversary of my pastor and his wife at Westland. But, I celebrated a lot more than that.

I celebrated the children that have grown into wonderful young adults through the years at Westland. Some of them are now raising their own families. I love watching the generations grow.

I celebrated friends. Friends that knew both Terry and I as well as new friends that only know me. I spent time with some very special friends and was reminded how wonderful it is to have them in my life. And, I was a bit ashamed that I don’t spend more time with them “just because.”

I celebrated memories. Memories of the last 17 years at Westland and the people who have passed through the doors. Some as quick blips in my life, others that have made a big impact and then moved on their way.

I celebrated the God Strings that pulled us all together, weaving our lives into a tapestry that is as unique as it is wonderful. The tears, the laughter, the coming and the going are all elements that have shaped my life. I pray that the rest of my life is as full and rich with the treasure of friends and family as it is today.