Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fill My Cup

Jim drinks coffee like an addict.  I joke that his blood has been replaced by coffee.  If he were ever in an emergency, they wouldn’t ask blood type, they would ask decaf or regular.  I would respond with Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut Full Strength-Black as his life source.  I’ve known this since our first date when his cup of java kept my hands warm.  I don’t touch the stuff.  Can’t stomach it.  I had to take some medicine with cold coffee once as a child on the way to school and haven’t gotten over the effects.  So I’ve used Jim’s coffee as a hand warmer and house scenter since our first days together.

For our first anniversary we went to Seagrove, the pottery capital of the world (or maybe just the south). It’s a great town just outside of Asheboro.  The weekend before Thanksgiving there’s a pottery festival where area potters display their wares in one of the school’s gyms.  There are potters on the school grounds, some throwing, some firing right there.  It’s really awesome seeing all of these goods that are made by hand.  The talent here is simply amazing.  They make it look so easy to throw clay onto a wheel and create beautiful vessels.  And useful ones at that!

We were on the search for lots of things that weekend.  The most important thing was a coffee cup for Jim.  He wanted one that his hand could slide through the handle and hold the mug.  I liked the idea for warming my hands.  We tried countless.  We went to many potter’s stores, even some of their homes in search of the perfect fit.  Just as we were leaving the last night, right as it was getting dark, we stopped into Lufkin Pottery.  It’s one of the last ones on Highway 220.  A husband and wife greeted us and pointed us to the mugs.  Jim found THE mug and picked up two to be on the safe side.  Coffee mug bliss. 

He began using the mugs daily, often not washing them.  It was as if they needed a coffee patina.  Gross, I know, but I didn’t use them.  Enter our precious children.  One day Brady was being helpful and tried carrying one of THE mugs into the kitchen for Jim.  It broke.  Brady was crushed, Jim was crushed and part of me was crushed.  We had to remember and teach Brady that it was a material thing and we were all okay.  About two or three weeks ago Jim opened the sacred coffee cabinet to start making his brew.  Something fell out of the cabinet and dropped on the mug.  It fell on the last mug at just the right angle to break it.  We were really crushed this time.  Our last mug.  Just months away from celebrating its ninth year with us.  I put it in my noggin to get in touch with the potter to buy another, but was planning it for our anniversary.

Apparently THE mug couldn’t wait a few months.  This morning Jim woke up and said, “I was thinking today would be a good day to go to the zoo.”  Okay, we have a membership thanks to my sister making it a great, free family day.  We were just getting on the interstate when I look at Jim and say, “Hey, why don’t we head to Seagrove...”  As he then proceeds to finish my sentence “...and go to Lufkin to get a new mug.”  I love  that we are SOMETIMES so connected.  It sure beats when he’s speaking blue and I’m screaming PINK.

We detoured the family fun trip to Lufkin before heading to the zoo. Surprisingly the boys were excited about it. Nathan asked if he could make something (I had made a bowl on our anniversary trip) and we said we were just getting a mug.  God, thanks for taking care of every little detail.

We got misdirected (thanks Google maps) and called Lufkin Pottery.  They so kindly directed us right to their front door.  Literally, their house is next door to their shop.  We were greeted by two little dogs and a hidden barking dog.  A few minutes later Sally Lufkin Saylor entered.  She is not only a very talented artist, but a deLIGHTful person.  She immediately guessed the boys ages and talked with them.  She allowed us to walk around the corner to meet the barker and her three three-week old babies. OH MY GOSH, pure sweetness.  We talked, Jim picked out mugs.  Sally made hand plates with the boys (yes, Nathan did get to make something today) and I sat in a rocking chair holding a dog cherishing the day with my family. It was one of those moments in time where I envision God looking down at His children and smiling.  I can’t even put the day into adequate words.  Jim paid for his mugs and Sally’s husband Don looked at us and said, “I want to do something for you guys.  God has just placed it on my heart.”  He showed us a Witness Crock. Something Sally makes and sells in the shop.  I had looked at it when we entered and briefly read about it, but when Don read key parts (or maybe my heart only heard key parts) tears started flowing from my eyes.

Witness Crock

We have all been made by the Potter
He has made each of us beautiful vases, crocks, pitchers
or whatever shapes He has chosen.
But, beauty needs to come from within
One side is the perfect side we wish we were.
Someone who has gone through life without any hurts.
Now see the cracks, the smalls slits, the holes and the dents.
The is the mental or verbal abuse we endured.
This is the divorce.
This crack is the death we did not understand that wounded us so badly.
The devil says, “What good are you, you cannot even hold water.
You have been rejected so much. Who would want you?
God loves you and wants you.
When you yield to Jesus, you will never be lost and alone again.
When you accept Jesus, you become part of a family
that will love you, stand beside you and teach you.

Now watch the miracle of God’s love as a candle is lit.
God’s love shines through the cracks and holes.
His love for us is a protection that nothing can ever hurt us as badly, again.
He wants our love to shine through the cracks
and reach a lost world that feels they are too broken
to be loved by such a wonderful God.
Tell your healing. Tell the love you have felt.
Let God’s love shine through you to reach His lost children.
May this crock be a tool in your witnessing.
May God bless you in your journey.
    ~Sally Lufkin Saylor

I know that God doesn’t make a mistake and planned this day and our visit for this purpose.  He put this couple in our lives nine years ago and again today to be His light.  I’ll admit that my light has been dimming.  My light was wavering.  Others may have seen it shining, but it wasn’t keeping me warm.  Have you ever felt yourself shining for others but not for yourself?  That’s what I was doing. One hour this afternoon in Seagrove, my light was relit and my soul restored through these words and their caring.  I don’t know how to respond to them. So much love in such a short amount of time.  Even if we didn’t have to return in a few weeks to pick up the hand plates or return to shop seeing them in Heaven will be a joyous event.  We’ll probably have to go without the boys because Nathan has cried himself to sleep over those puppies. It was his first time holding a puppy and he really wanted to bring one home.  Way too early for bringing one home and we’re so not ready for one now.  Kodi would throw himself into traffic.

Today we went in search of a cup.  We came home with two and my cup was filled to overflowing.  God is so good.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Honored and Blessed

I have some pretty amazing friends.  However, I always doubt my value in their lives. I mean, I know how much I think of them, but do they think the same about me?  Do they want me to be closer because I know I tend to remain a bit distant, saves hurt feelings, you know?!  And how do you step from friendship to family?

My bestest Aimee and I did that pretty quickly.  Her family adopted me freshman year at Elon and they haven't been able to get rid of me since.  Being blessed with them in my life is something I dare not attempt to put into words!

I have a friend, Nikki.  I met her two years ago when she and her husband, Matt, moved here from Maryland to join our Family Ministry Team at church.  I literally met them as they were moving in, I think I beat the moving van.  I had picked up some pizzas for the crew to eat so I might as well help them move a few things in.  I'm guessing a stranger grabbing your couch cushions connects your hearts for life!

Over the past two years, Nikki and Matt have adopted the boys, even spoiling them with a late night at Krispy Kreme with chocolate milk and sugary doughnuts.  Needless to say, our boys were quickly in love with this couple willing to love them and spoil them. They've watched the boys several times and I don't know who has more fun, Nathan and Brady or Matt!!

This weekend I was honored to bring their bags to the hospital for them to welcome their first born, soon to be spoiled rotten, gift from God into the world.  I was hopefully optimistic I would get to stay, but completely expected to drop the bags and run on home.  When I wasn't kicked out (perhaps offering a back rub won them over) I did the happy dance inside.  See, I missed the chance to labor much myself and my sister vetoed anyone being in the room with her.  Being in on the action this time was better than being a bridesmaid, I didn't even have to dress up!  Sweet Nikki labored all night then had a c-section so Jude could come out right then (yes, I was that impatient and no I didn't tip the docs to do it)!  Being there right when he was born and hearing him protest being out of the warm, dark womb was magical. I honestly can't do justice with my words.  

Beyond being honored to share in such an amazing moment with this family, I was able to be in Jim's shoes for the deliveries of our children.  He had to wait outside the OR for Harris to be born and that was an ugly experience all around for him.  He dressed up in a space suit for Nathan and Brady's deliveries and was super-d-duper excited to watch every aspect of their births.  He loves to say he's seen me from the inside out.  Only he would look that hard!!  I felt a large amount of what he must have gone through while he waited to become a father.  The hours spent in the hospital waiting and waiting and waiting were tedious.  Jim and I were blessed with going in and getting babies out within minutes or an hour for ours.  We didn't have to wait, yet I know the moments we were apart and waiting for the babies to come out had to have been the most gut-wrenching in the world.

Coming home Sunday morning to my family made me realize, again, how very priceless they are to me.  I relieved pretty much all of my Harris laboring experience that day, but celebrated with a happy ending.  Knowing Jim was home praying for me and them as he is always my solid anchor allowed me to get through it.  Of course, some special nurses helped, too!  As I returned to the land of the living I don't know the last time I've been more thankful for my husband.  For what he went through for us to have the boys or as he lifted me up and cared for me all weekend. 

I have been honored by friends and blessed by Jim and God.  What more could this mom ask for?  
Oh yeah, Nathan and Brady are in love with Jude already!  We're already trying to figure out how to sneak him away!!  And we're so ready for him to be able to eat his first Krispy Kreme!

Monday, July 25, 2011

What's in a name?

Our church is in the midst of our summer series.  This year’s theme is the many names of God. Each pastor chooses a name and speaks on how that name rings true for us using biblical examples.  During yesterday’s message I was pulled into thinking of one of my favorite names for God, Abba Father. 

Every pastor has discussed their own names or their offspring’s name.  My name is Bridget Shea, I was supposed to be Bradford Stuart III.  Being the fourth and final girl proved that the Harris line wasn’t going to continue so my parents wanted to keep the BS going if nothing else.  For a while my family called me Bridget until my mom overheard me being called “Bridget the Midget” and a neighbor named their child Bridget.  By two I was known as Shea to all but my grandmother who couldn’t quite get me as Shea.  My mom didn’t consider the name calling that would come from that as I was soon called “Shea, the horse’s hay.”  And later on have been called Shea Stadium, Shea Butter and my favorite, Sheabee.  My name is significant to me because it was well thought out in a family with names like Trilbie, Tysh, Gail Cannon, and Virginia Caroline.  I wonder what I would have become if my parents didn’t want me to be BS.

My childrens’ names are of equal import.  Our first, Harris Michael, was to carry on my maiden name and my husband’s father’s name.  It was a beautiful name that I envisioned on important documents and can’t tell you how many times I wrote it out in those months of knowing who he would be!  Our second, Nathaniel James, is our “gift from God” as his name means and James continues the legacy of my husband while being a favorite Bible book.  Bradford Ellis, our final gift, is keeping on the Bradford-a name I treasure and have high hopes for.  Ellis was not only my sister’s middle name, but my grandmother’s maiden name.  Obviously a lot of thought went into these names and I feel that each child wears their name as designed.

During a mission trip in high school I heard God referred to as Abba Father for the first time.  This name struck me and has always had an impact on me, every time I hear it.  At the time my “Diddy” hung the moon.  My parents were divorced and I lived at home with my dad, taking care of household duties.  Everything from laundry to cooking meals and cleaning.  My dad and I had a great relationship and because of his love for me, my sisters and even still my mom, I thought he defined love.  After hearing about my Abba Father I had to reconsider it.  In fact, during an interview for Teaching Fellows, I was asked to define love.  I shared about my dad’s devotion and amazing love for all of us.  The interviewer asked me about God’s love and how he was surprised I didn’t use His love as my definition.  I was taken aback.  Being seventeen and taking baby faith steps had not taken me this far.  I shared how my earthly father showed me the love of my Heavenly Father.  At that moment I realized just how blessed I was.  I had the love of my Abba Father living with me every day. 

The phrase "Abba, Father" appears three times in Scripture.  In Mark 14:36, Jesus said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me, nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will." In Romans 8:15, "You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father'." And again, in Galatians 4:6, "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father'."

I call my dad “Diddy.” I don’t know when it started, but I knew he had embraced it when he signed a birthday card, “Love, Diddy.”  Some people call their dad Pops, Papa, Daddeo or even just Da as one of the first sounds to come out of a babe’s mouth.  There’s an intimacy that comes from calling someone something other than their name.  If you met my dad, you would call him Stuart, if you’re his grandchild, you would call him Papa Stu (or Papa Dew at first) and if you have the pleasure of being his youngest daughter, you would call him Diddy.    If you’re a really close friend of mine, you would call me Sheabee.  A nickname my sister gave me, normally prefaced with Baby-Baby Sheabee was not how I wanted her college friends to know me.  Yet, they do.  If you call me Sheabee then chances are you know too much about me and must remain my friend!  
The word Abba simply means father.  Each time it is used in the Bible, it is followed by the Greek word, pater, which means father.  Calling God, Abba, brings His great love for us right into our hearts.  I imagine it as a child’s first word.  When simple sounds are what we long to hear.  The simple, yet, intimate name of Abba is what our Father longs to hear.  Saying Abba Father allows us to have a child-like love of our Father, much like Diddy while Father allows us to have an understanding of who He is and our relationship to Him.  Connecting Abba with Father allows us to have an emotional and intellectual understanding of our relationship.  

When Jesus cries out to his Abba Father asking for His will in His life, we are humbly brought to our knees by the relationship they have.  You wouldn’t call my dad Diddy, you would call him Stuart or Mr. Harris.  You don’t have the relationship with him I do.  But you can have the relationship with God Jesus does.  You are His child, you are called to be intimate with Him and constantly aware of Him. He wants you to reach out to Him and call Him your Abba Father.