Break My Heart

God broke my heart today.

I dared to peek. Dared to look around a little. Dared to hear the raw weeping of this world.

And He responded to my courage by shattering my rose-tinted glasses.

He didn’t apologise.

It was all God’s fault anyway….

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I was looking for light words of affirmation in His Book, and instead I found myself being shaken to the core by the gentle power of an uncomfortably and unashamedly uncompromising letter:

“For Christ’s love compels us… 
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ…
And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” *

And then, as my eyes took in these stirring words, my ears picked up this spine-tingling song that played in the background:

“Open up my eyes to the things unseen.
Show me how to love like You have loved me.
Break my heart with what breaks Yours…” **

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An older gentleman wept as he told me of the death of a friend, just 3 days ago. His voice trembled, his tears shuddered down, and my heart ached for his pain.

A family member took the blows of another’s unfair and irrational words, and the blade of grief stabbed my heart so that it bled.

A friend lost her precious baby to illness and death, and my heart helplessly cracked a little more.

diamond


Yes, God broke my heart today.

Just enough so that He could fill the crack with His deep and gentle love.

And suddenly, I knew that this will always be my privilege and my prayer.

Break my heart.

Yes, may my heart keep breaking with the opening of new crevasses, so that it cannot help but spill love from these cracks and overflow out into this world.

Break my heart, God, with the things that break Yours.

Break my heart.

 

© Emma McGeorge 2014

* II Corinthians 14, 18-20
** “Hosanna” by Brooke Fraser

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Shopping – A Guide for the Non-Shopaholic

Shopping.

The buzzword that brings delicious thrills. Delicious thrills of FEAR.

I am not an ardent shopper or, unfortunately, even a skilled shopper.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve left a store before I’ve even made it past the first dress, I’d be rich enough to do something other than shop.

I’d like to attribute my bargain shoes, cute-yet-cheap accessories, beautiful and comfy clothes to my own brilliance. My tenacity. My endurance. My no nonsense “I sniff a sale” eyesight (coz this is something you smell with your eyes, peeps). To say that I have an all-round “happy to be laden with every size, color and weight shopping bag” shop-a-lot-a-personality-a.

But I can’t. It’s just not me. (No really – those awesome bargains and cute accessories were not my own finds. Ever.)

Actually, most of my buys are because one or both of my shopaholic sisters has mercilessly spent hours rifling through racks, waltzing from shop to shop to Chopin, and loudly and honestly telling me their opinion of my piffling grey button-down cardigan. They’re out to shop well, and they make darn well sure I shop!

“Shop till you drop” takes on a new meaning – the literal kind.

But shopping can be fun! Look, I’ll even say it out loud: __________________!

I mean, why wouldn’t I want to breeze through at least 20 different stores on aching feet? Or hang onto bulging bags of bargains that cut off my arm circulation? Or tirelessly try on 50 different outfits so that I don’t miss the ONE that fits and feels and looks and is… yeah…. Or troll through racks and racks of colour and texture and shape and size and bling and sing – oh wait, singing is reserved for my Mom and brother waltzing down the grocery aisle…

Anyway, you get the idea. I do like shopping. But my attention span only lasts about 15 minutes. After that, I need to find a snack. Or a book. Or a good bit of ceiling to reflect on.

But, if you too prefer to shop in small doses (like, once a year doses) do not fear the day when it comes – take heart!

You’ll survive.

I did.

Am.

Will.

*sigh*

So why do I shop?

Well, according to my youngest sister, even a non-shopaholic like me does indeed serve a vital purpose.

“You,” she patiently informed me, “are our sober driver.”

I Choose Life

How deeply is God in our humanity? And vice versa?

Must His leading always be a clear, spiritual moment? Can He not guide us using our human sense and intuition also?

If Christ is in me, can I not simply walk as I see the way before me? Not in arrogance or ignorance, but in the freedom of knowing that He is ingrained within my very soul. And knowing that it does not matter if I step to the right or to the left,  because I walk in Him, and Him in me…

I don’t want to live in perpetual concern that I may have missed a step or veered too far off to the side.

I want to LIVE.

Yes, there will be loss and mistakes. There will be pain and confusion. But isn’t that a part of life?

I’m tired of scrambling to ease the concerns of every person who feels I’m not doing “the right thing”.
Right by whose standards?
Yours? Mine? God’s?

I want to be free to laugh and cry and go hither or yonder, light in my step and firm in my heart because Christ dwells within.

It’s not pride – it’s passion to thrive.
It’s not delusion – it’s wonder in the joy.

Life is full of beautiful and unexpected moments. Must I ask permission or seek approval in order to delight in those moments? Or to dwell in their depth?

If I step forward, not knowing everything, yet knowing that God is my heart beat and indeed my very breath – why should I be made guilty for choosing to do more than merely exist by others’ rules?

God is in me. And I am in Him.

Yes, I am human. I live in a fallen world. I will experience darkness. It will discourage me. Maybe even crush me.

But it will not destroy me.

Because even my humanness is somehow sacred.

The presence of Jesus is mine, whether I’m basking in the sunlight or shivering in the shadow. Whether I’m humbly bowing amidst the gracelessness of this world, or fighting a battle I didn’t ask for, or running forward in reckless, joyful abandon.

I refuse to toe the line. I won’t fold myself into the box.

I will not allow the angst or apathy of others to stop me from diving into the pure and beautiful joy of living.

I was made to do more. I was made to be more.

I was not made for existence.

I was made for life.

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Needle

Why do I write?

I pondered this question once whilst admiring a friend’s beautiful embroidery.

Sewing, it seems, is a key ingredient to a well-balanced woman. Crochet for gifts, quilting for one’s family, mending and patchwork to hide the inevitable marks of childhood, stunning works of art captured in a swirl of thread – this is one skill that no self-respecting young lady should be without.

I am self-respecting. I am not, unfortunately, a seamstress.

Please know that this is not for lack of want or trying. In fact, I used to host rather grandiose visions of myself competently mending children’s clothes, stitching fun and creative home-warming items, making gorgeous gifts, and adding my own fashionable flair to any outfit.

The problem is that things are so much more plausible in my head – my mind’s eye is so much sharper than my needle-threading eye.

For some time, I sported an embroidered sewing kit, multiple spools of thread, 3 thimbles, a pair of mini scissors and the all-important “quick unpick”. Because there is also something to be said for NOT hand-sewing a garment to the skirt you are wearing at the time of said sewing – much unpicking required…

So I may not be too handy with a needle and thread, but surely I can wield some import in the kitchen? I’m a whole half-Italian for goodness’ sake!! Buon Appetito, si?

The problem is that things are so much more plausible in my head – I too easily get trapped inside that head, with my imagination cooking up a storm, but sadly failing in the context of the storm that is actually brewing inside my neglected cooking pots.

I have been told that if I stopped stirring ideas and started stirring pots, I may not burn quite so many a promising dish.

Some of the lessons I have learned, always the hard way, are as follows:

– turning on the oven goes a long way towards cooking a meal
– stirring the rich homemade pasta sauce too vigorously can give it the tendency to leap out of its confining pot
– a little cornflour and water can fix anything
– a little cornflour and water cannot fix anything
– it is never a good idea to toast the cord of the toasted sandwich maker inside your sandwich. Especially if it is not your toasted sandwich maker, or even your kitchen.

Sadly, it seems that all Nigella Lawson and I have in common is our firm belief that “Whitakers’ 5-Roll Refined Creamy Milk Chocolate” is indeed the best kitchen paraphernalium ever invented.

So, back to my original pondering – why do I WRITE?

I must note here that I do not write because I can’t cook. Or because I can’t sew. I can do both (‘Struth! Would I lie to you?!). It just takes a more concentrated effort, and the strength of will to be present in the here and now.

No, writing is not an effort to prove something.

So, why DO I write?

I came across this recurring question not too long ago in a book about, of course, writing, and tried in vain to think of some sparkling, witty reply. Some profound sentence that would capture the inspiration and beauty and power of the written word, in a perfectly crafted sentence with cadence and flow.

But not having a pen in my hand severely impedes my thought process, and it took me some time to stumble across part of the answer, knowing that the whole answer is still a mystery that I chip away at every time I pick up my pen…

Why do I write?

Because there’s something profoundly inspiring about the light strength of a pen, the quiet anticipation of a blank page awaiting my next move. True, most of the time I am not quite sure what that next move will be – but the magnet of the written word, the flow of words from heart to page is unstoppable.

I write when I am happy, when I am sad, when I am angry at injustice or delighting in goodness, when I know uncertainty, when I know fear, when I don’t know anything except to write.

I write for the joy of seeing pen and paper kiss.

I write for the peace of my soul, knowing it needs this outlet of expression. I write for the pure delight of others. I write for the wonder of shared words that heal, bless, provoke, inspire, love.

I write because I cannot NOT write.

What is something that you do, for no other reason than the fact that you do? What greens you? Shines you? Reminds you that YOU are YOU?

If it’s sewing, please know that no needles or threads were harmed in the making of this pondering.
If it’s cooking, please know that I am currently rostered to cook only once a week, so that our pots are given 6 days of rest.

© Emma McGeorge 2013

That Moment When…

That awesome moment when you’re driving in the rain listening to Newsboys, and they’re singing in time to your windscreen wipers…

That awkward moment when you tidy up your appearance using the window reflection in your office, then realise there is someone on the other side of the window…

That gross-out moment when you reach into the letterbox to grab the mail, and instead grab a handful of slugs…

That enticing moment when you smell fresh baking in the kitchen…

That frustrating moment when the printer jams just as you start a colossal and urgent print run, and you have to try to find a serviceman on a Friday afternoon…

That glowing moment when a little baby beams at you in the elevator…

That disheartening moment when you’re overwhelmed by everything, and struggling just to keep going for the next 5 minutes…

That shared moment when you laugh in delight with another person…

That depressing moment when you check your chocolate wrapper for the third time just in case, but it’s definitely empty…

That weird moment when you stare at your own reflection in the bathroom mirror, and wonder if this is what other people see…

That blissful moment when you curl up with a cushion and a well-read book…

That down moment when you’re feeling so unwell, and everyone helpfully keeps telling you how terrible you look…

That refreshing moment when a complete stranger asks you a question in the supermarket, and you end up chatting for 15 minutes like old friends…

That embarrassing moment when you’re caught at work dipping chocolate bars in your tea…

That determined moment when you sit down to plough through a substantial task…

That contemplative moment when you watch the raindrops dashing to the ground, and you can almost hear them laughing in pure joy…

That un-funny moment when it’s well past midnight after an exhausting and stressful day, and instead of settling down in her soft-lined box, your cat wants to play tag in the pitch black of the back garden…

That exciting moment when you blow bubbles and chase them like a little kid…

That pause in moments when you realise you have lived each moment, and there will never be another moment like it…

© Emma McGeorge

When Words Ring Silent

For some people, words are the superfluous squiggles in the book that simply tell whether or not the princess lived happily ever after. To others, they are a torturous tool that must be wielded, however begrudgingly, in order to wade through the basic necessities of life.

To others, however, words are something irreplaceably necessary.

For these people, words can be relied on to convey information from other people, the world, and life in general. Yet an even more irresistable power of words is clutched by such a wonderer – they know that words can bring to the surface the world that is sometimes trapped deep within the inner person.

Words make clear crystals of fuzzy thoughts and feelings. Words make sense of chaos and expound upon order, and put great (or not so great) ideas into concrete form. (This is particularly useful when one’s entire persona is such that concrete is only known as something that threatens to trip one’s feet, while one’s mind floats blissfully somewhere among the clouds…)

But what does such a person do when the words have run dry? When page after page of black, swirling ink is silent?

In this deplorable state, the air is completely sucked out of the one who breathes the oxygen of words. It is a place of invisible words and unseen sentences and whole paragraphs lost in translation from heart to page.

A place in which, suddenly and inexplicably, a soul can no longer be written upon a page in order to be read. To be understood and accepted. To be loved.

In this place of darkness and uncertainty lingers one underlying fear – the fear that the words are lost forever. That they will be the voice of the heart no more.

Who can mend broken words? Who can decipher an empty page?

It is a mystery – a beautiful mystery – that those who do not need words so desperately, can somehow empathize with those who do. They are not shattered by the crossed out lines and the crumpled pages. They do not cringe at the smudges and the errors and the scattered punctuation.

Instead, they fill the gaps that have been erased and twinked and re-inked to no avail. They take the place of the hidden words with gentleness and strength. They speak to the heart, and they let the heart know its own beat, even with no words – and that it is still good.

They calmly unravel the confusion, speak the words worth speaking, and stand quiet and content when the words begin to fall again like autumn leaves.

They are a gift to the one who is trapped and wrapped in a jumble of words. They are the valiant keepers of the heart that beats a rhythm – one that is not always rhythmic – of words. They are the mirror by which a story written in a backwards font is still able to be read.

They are the clear and beautiful bell that rings true, when words ring silent.

© Emma McGeorge, 22 August 2013

Sarah’s Dress

The pink, glittery bauble caught my eye and froze my feet in their tracks.

Soft rose hues of fabric overlapped a darker, richer pink, and the whole ball was flecked with silvery diamantes. It hung delicately from a graceful, glittering thread, slowly turning to catch the light and throw it back in coloured sparkles.

It was a perfect match to the dress.

Slowly, I took in the tall pine, the basket of Christmas decorations on the table, and the small sign propped against the basket: “Remembrance Christmas Tree – Auckland Hospice.”

Two sweet old ladies seated at the table smiled amidst the ignorant and harried passers-by. I too had hurried past this Christmas tree in the mall countless times, but one brightly-coloured decoration had halted me in my tracks.

The towering tree stood like a beautiful and silent sentinel, its branches laden with baubles every colour of the rainbow. But what made this tree special were the little twists of paper affixed to each decoration and handwritten with a message or prayer.

Suddenly, I knew what I must do.

I dropped some change into the tin, took a piece of white paper, and slowly lifted a pink, glittery bauble from the basket. As I gently cradled the trinket in my hands, the discordant sounds of last-minute Christmas shoppers and shouted bargains became a background hum.

Yes, the little burst of colour nestled in my palm was just as pretty and dainty as the dress.

I stared, mesmerized, at the pink globe shimmering in my hands, struck by the memories that flooded my mind. Strangely, they were not grey memories of the cancer and death that had slowly taken Sarah’s earthly body. Instead, I was flooded with colourful thoughts and moments of beauty and life.

My heart lifted remembering a delightful walk around a lake with Sarah in her wheelchair. We had laughed and talked and revelled in the beauty of the scenery and the joy of spending the day with friends.

I smiled thinking of her continual and infectious laugh, and her mega-watt smile. I chuckled at our girlish escapades and games, whispered secrets, silly moments and sweet, supporting prayers. I pondered on her deep love and care for others.

With sadness, I remembered the last time I visited Sarah in the Hospice. Even then, as she lay ravaged and pained by disease, her heart ached for those around her. She held my hand in her cold, brown palm, and tried to whisper comforting words. “Are you OK?”… “It’s alright.”… “I love you.”

Sarah’s life was not long on this earth, but this did not stop her from touching hearts and blessing souls by the hundreds. Even now, when I had just thought of Sarah, I had been struck again, not by her sickness, but by her warm concern for others and her deep joy in life and God.

From her sickbed, my friend taught me to genuinely care for others, find joy in each day God gives, and live each day to the full. Sarah taught me to love life and people, and to leave many precious memories of that love…

I smoothed out the slip of paper and slowly penned my message:

“Dearest Beautiful Sarah, you and your whanau are not forgotten. Love always, Emma.”

I tied my note to the shiny pink bauble and gently hung it on the tree. A few salty tears escaped my eyes, then I quietly walked away with my last memory…

Sarah lay in the coffin, surrounded by her dearest family and friends. She was smiling peacefully, gently, free forever from pain and death, beautiful and sweet, and wearing a dress that must have been a special last wish – a pink, shimmering dress that glittered with hundreds of sparkling diamantes.

Dedicated to my beautiful friend, Sarah, who embraced God in person on April 19, 2010.

© Emma McGeorge