What is it about finding out that you can’t get something that makes you obsessively want nothing other than that thing you can’t get?
Sometime during the middle of last winter, my beloved polar fleece booties gave out. I have worn polar fleece bootie slippers for decades. They are like pacifiers for your feet, making them feel all comforted and happy. Mr. Sparky hadn’t really liked the redesigned pair from Lands End, so he gave me his barely worn pair. They were fine except for one glaring issue:
They weren’t red.
Don’t be laughing, now. It matters. Red is warmer. Mr. Sparky’s pair is navy. They are dignified and manly and very un-red.
By the time I needed new slippers last year, the stock was getting low and so I decided to wait until this year to get new ones since there would be a fresh selection of designs and colors. Little did I know, Lands End would not be offering the polar fleece booties this year.
So I checked out L.L. Bean, which is indeed offering the booties in the design I actually like best (although they call them slipper socks for some odd reason). This would be exciting except for one problem.
You guessed it. No red.
L.L. Bean is offering their booties in two colors: navy and dark gray.
I just can’t.
I’ve scoured Al Gore’s internets and dang it all if I haven’t come up empty-footed. I don’t want polar fleece socks. I don’t want moccasins. I don’t want crafty booties that are polar fleece on the bottom without a real sole of some sort. I don’t want booties made of sweater knit, fur, satin, or quilted stuff that looks like the Stay-Puf marshmallow man. I definitely don’t want granny scuffs. I would consider settling for another color if it wasn’t so…drab. But $40 to settle for drabness?
I just can’t.
It’s a first world problem. I have the slippers Mr. Sparky gave me last year, and I can probably get another season out of them. I have awesome fuzzy socks which are fun. And I live in Florida, which means my risk of frostbite on my tootsies is quite low. I’m blessed.
I don’t know what it is, this thing that drives us to want what we can’t have. Maybe it’s just human nature. Maybe it was the chink in the armor that the snake exploited in the garden of Eden. Whatever it is, it’s so much deeper than a pair of slippers.
Because it’s not just that we want what we can’t have. We also obsessively want what we think we can’t have or what we perceive is being withheld from us, even if isn’t really. And if we think we can’t have it, then we’ll almost certainly entertain jealousy towards those who do have it. It’s a nasty cycle that perpetuates a very distorted concept of justice and fairness.
I do my best to avoid rolling like that, but just to be safe, do a sister a favor and don’t be gloating if you have red polar fleece booties.
Unless you can tell me where to find a pair for myself, that is.
It came like a river and washed me over.
I would like to say I waded in, but nothing could be further from the truth. One moment I was on dry ground, and the next I was in over my head, tumbling and turning and hoping my head wouldn’t get bashed upon the rocks, although for that matter I don’t even know if there were any rocks.
Funny how the speed of the suddenlies can convince you you’re surely about to die, and it’s probably going to be violent and gory. Surely it will be tomorrow’s headlines, and what if someone posts an unflattering photo of you dying with your mouth open, looking silly?
Or worse yet, what if nobody even notices you’re gone?
But I didn’t bash my head on any rocks. Instead, I discovered that beyond the panic there was a rhythm to the flow, furious and relentless as it was, and I didn’t have to be a victim of its raging torrents.
Better yet to face forward and learn to defy gravity.
Some may call it swimming, some may call it flying. Some will surely stand at a safe distance and call it chaos, although it is actually anything but except to those with an unhealthy attachment to dry land.
I thought I would write a blog post tonight.
That is before I actually sat down to do it. Now that I’ve sat down to do it, and have continued to sit here staring at this screen for over and hour, I’m not sure why I thought that.
Once upon a time I knew a lot of words. It was fun to string them together and see how they sounded, what sorts of twists and turns they might make. They could make stories and rhymes. They could chat about the day. They could tickle and punch. They could sing.
On occasion they still do.
But these days they are more likely to dotter and slouch. They slip on a pair of scuffed corduroy house shoes and shuffle out to get the paper from the front stoop, dragging the untied belt to a bathrobe, and mumble through the funnies and the want ads, making that horrible throat-clearing noise. I don’t think they’ve combed their hair for months.
Nobody knows quite what to do when the shine wears off.
Just a smidge over three weeks ago I returned home from Brazil.
The trip was beyond amazing, as I expected it to be. I reunited with probably close to two dozen folks I’d met last year (if you include leadership), and I met at least seventy new people on the team.
For nearly two weeks we did life together, 24/7.
Doing life together in Brazil on a Global Awakening trip is community life on steroids. We all came for a unified cause, although the reasons we did it were as varied as the zip codes and the colors of our passports.
For nearly two weeks we shared hotel rooms, meals, and bus seats. We visited churches together, we worshiped together, we prayed together, we interceded with and for one another, we ministered with one another.
We learned one another’s habits. We began to understand who liked a little extra space, who preferred to listen even when they didn’t say much, who could entertain a phone pole with jokes and schtick, who greeted life with a constant smile, and who was going to be last to get on the bus every single time.
We invested in one another. And now that we’re home, we’re still invested.
During a personal message exchange today, my friend Paul said this:
“It will be awesome to see how things continue to be revealed and developed through this group. I am thirsty for what happens next within this team. Isn’t it interesting that even though the trip has been over for almost a month that I still have this sense of “team” and that our trip has only begun?”
The truth is, most of us would say we feel this way. I am confident the team I was with in 2014 would agree.
I have to wonder if this sense of team and traveling together isn’t so much about spending two weeks in Brazil together but how we spent that two weeks. We were immersed in concentrated multi-faceted community and kingdom business with one another.
This is no small thing.
We operated in risk and vulnerability with one another. We shared a deep hunger to see God move in one another and through one another. We were there for each other’s sacred moments. We witnessed and celebrated some team members have their first experience praying for someone who was healed on the spot. We cheered each other on. We rejoiced over victories together, and ached over defeats. We watched one another confront fears and anxieties, stepping into new levels of kingdom realities. We were there as Holy Spirit touched some of us with laughter…and some with peace…and moved some to deep tears…and blasted some with overwhelming power. And we joined in the laughter, blessed the peace, handed out tissues, and helped wobbly legs find their way to chairs and beds.
We lived as open treasure boxes with one another, and held little back. It was two weeks of wildly joyful, deeply poignant, and outrageously fun holy ground.
This is life in the kingdom at its best.
The most challenging part about these trips is coming home and realizing the folks around us have no grid for what we’ve just experienced. We can tell the stories—and boy, are there ever stories to tell—but it is exceedingly difficult to express what really happened to us there. Something fundamental in us changed and the only people who really understand are those who experienced it alongside us: the team. And so pieces of our hearts remain tied to a scattered group, and we have a vision awakened for a present community around us that operates in the same kind of authenticity, vulnerability, bravery, and determination.
In our day-to-day lives we long for this kind of team…this kind of community…this kind of church.
Because isn’t this what the church is really supposed to be?
I know, lousy photo. Late night, terrible lighting, iPhone operator refusing to use flash. Ansel Adams I ain’t.
But look at him. All curled up in his little bed, all 14 POUNDS of him because the once 12-pound wuss dog is getting a little tubby. Guess having nine bad teeth pulled gave him a renewed appetite. He is particularly fond of cat food. He also licks his bed.
I know he looks all sweet and cozy, tucked into a little ball like that. But do not be deceived. Jake the Jerk-Faced Dog is suffocating in a cloud of his own pfffft!
How do I know? That little bed is three feet away from where I am sitting and typing right now, and I have decent hearing.
I also had a decent sense of smell until about five minutes ago.
I just found a sad thing in my clothes dryer: two pairs of my socks.
It isn’t sad to find Mr. Sparky’s socks in the dryer because he goes though 1-3 pairs a day on average, depending on what he’s doing. Work socks, cycling socks, soccer refereeing socks, be-bopping around socks…lotsa socks. I’m used to it.
But me? This is Florida. I am in sandals or flip flops as much of the year as possible. I tend to be warm-natured, and when my feet are hot, I feel miserable all over. So except for the socks I wear while working out, I am sock-free for much of the year. And if possible, I’m shoe-free too.
Shoes and socks are straight-jackets for the feet, I tell ya.
But this past week my feet were actually in my purple boots twice, hence the two pairs of socks. And if my feet were in my purple boots, that is a clear sign of a major seasonal change. The boots don’t come out until the weather has started to turn, and boots also usually mean long leggings, tunics, and maybe even jackets.
More/heavier clothing + boots = winter is coming.
If only all seasonal shifts were that easy to discern.
As I begin to write this it is a little past midnight and I am feeling exceedingly whiny.
You see…I hab a code id by ndoze.
Actually, it’s bothering my throat more than my nose. And I haven’t had a cold in a really long time—at least, not one of any significance. A day or two of stuffiness, sure, or maybe a slightly scratchy throat that goes away in a couple of days. But this?
Scratchy throat, fighting a cough, sinus pressure and stuffiness, and I can feel my eustachian tubes.
You’re not supposed to be able to feel your eustachian tubes, y’all.
It started a couple of days ago and I refused to be convinced it would develop into anything truly bothersome. And it’s really only that: bothersome. I’m not going to die from it. I’ll probably feel a lot better in just a day or two.
In the meanwhile I’m grateful for essential oils, Afrin, lots of safe drinking water and hot tea, and a nice rainy evening, because it somehow feels better to be pitiful to the sound of rain. Oh, and tomorrow for the first time in about six weeks, my phone calendar doesn’t have a little dot on it telling me I have to go do something. So other than the laundry which can’t be put off any longer, I get to rest and let my immune system rise up and do what God designed it to do.
So my brain is calculating all the stuff I have to be grateful for, which is a ton. Probably two tons.
Bud my ndoze an throwd are all sduffy an cranky, and they’re campaigning for grape gatorade because, you know, sick, but I said no because, you know, sugar. So they said “just you wait until 3am” and I said “don’t even think about it”. But just to be safe I’d probably better slip myself some melatonin, since I think I’m out of bigger guns of Benedryl.
Earth suits can be so demanding.