Thursday, February 28, 2013

Carry Me Home

Tell me a story, Daddy
Tell me of castles and keeps.
Read to me of heaven and wonder
Of dragons and princes,
Of lost golden treasures,
Of elves and wishes,
And magical kisses.
Stay until I fall asleep.

Fairytales and bedtime stories
Sleep in soothing lullabies.
Sing in the land of Ever Afters,
And laugh in the Once Upon a Time.

I’m all grown up now, Daddy
I’d rather read all on my own.
Thanks for the time and the stories
The nights at my side,
Descriptions and glory,
We laughed and we cried.
I’m kind of sorry but please,
Dad, I can do it alone.

Fairytales and bedtime stories
Sleep in soothing lullabies.
Sing in the land of Ever Afters,
And laugh in the Once Upon a Time.

Now that I’m forty, Daddy,
I miss your deep rumble tones.
Read once more of kings and their queens,
Of ivory towers
And twinkle-star dreams,
Enchanted potions,
And mythical things.
Let your love carry me home.

Fairytales and bedtime stories
Sleep in soothing lullabies.
Sing in the land of Ever Afters,
And laugh in the Once Upon a Time.

I wrote this poem several years ago.  I even turned it into a song, a lullaby for my dad.  It's kind of autobiographical.  I know it's not great literature, but I like the images. I like the idea of singing and laughing in magical places, of sleeping inside of lullabies.  I've always loved fairytales.  I've always found sanctuary in lands of make-believe.  As long as I can remember, I've read stories about lost kingdoms, myths and legends, and shadowlands.  

I think of my dad because of his voice.  I remember laying my head on his chest and feeling the vibration of it when he spoke.  It was thunder-rumbly and came from deep inside.  It was the perfect voice for stories.  

There are three verses.  The first is that memory of childhood and dependence.  The second is all about letting go.  The final verse is saudade - longing for the comfort of childhood.  I am constantly amazed at how my life and feelings in this world, become writings of God's plan.  How amazing is He, who can use me this way...   My life - in a nutshell - childhood with God, vibrating His love to me through stories.  Then my independence from Him - leaving, even with regret, because I thought I could do it alone.  Finally, letting His love carry me home - to Him.  

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15: 20

Thank you, God,  for never abandoning us, even through our pride and willfulness.  Thank you, for your steadfast love, and for joy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Coming of Robins

We are about to lose Winter for the year  
Days of February have meandered by 
Cloudy, rainy, sunny by turn
March is coming  

Yet, snow falls 
Insinuating itself into the bare places
Transforming the land
Peaceful snow quilt
This comforter
Muffling sound and insulating cold

The sun will rise 
Ice will melt
Droplets will fall from ice-shrouded branches
And robins will drink


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Crochet and Creation

This is crochet.  These are pictures from a hoodie I made for my niece's baby girl.  One of the attributes of crochet that I find fascinating is the variety of stitches and patterns that can be made.  I especially like the textural look and feel of crocheted cables - the Aran look.  It involves something called front and back posting - skipping some stitches and then coming back to them from the front or the back.  The cables are literally twined relief stitches - they actually go behind and in front of each other.  Cool, huh?  If you're interested in the pattern, you can find it here.

But there's more.  It has to do with the making.  It satisfies me.  So, what's so satisfying about crochet?

Crochet is a process of creating fabric from yarn, thread, or other material strands using a crochet hook.  The word is drived from the French word "crochet", meaning hook.  Hooks can be made of materials such as metals, woods or plastic and are commercially manufactured as well as produced by artisans.  Crocheting, like knitting, consists of pulling loops through other loops, but additionally incorporates wrapping the working material around the hook one or more times. Crochet differs from knitting in that only one stitch is active at one time (exceptions being Tunisian crochet and broomstick lace), stitches made with the same diameter of yarn are comparably taller, and a single crochet hook is used instead of two knitting needles.  Additionally, crochet has its own system of symbols to represent stitch types.

So, I guess you aren't actually making something from nothing - you need a hook and you need some yarn.  (Actually, hooks aren't always necessary, either.  I've seen some beautiful crochet done using the hand and arms as a hook.)  The point is, though, that creating a product fills an empty spot in my being.  I suppose it always has.  I like to draw.  I like to cook.  I write.  As I sit here, I think part of the satisfaction I get from writing lesson plans for my students is in the actual creation of the lessons.  

Imagine, then, how God feels.  He created this world and all that is in it from out of the void.  He made something from nothing.  He is the ultimate Creator.  He created us - in His image.  I'm thinking that he created that empty spot in us, as well.  He wants to share the satisfaction of creation with us.  

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth....God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Genesis 1

Thank you, God, for Creation.

Monday, February 25, 2013


The sons of Levi:
Gershon, Kohath and Merari.
                      1 Chronicles 6

Biblical names can be a mouthful.  Whole chapters of names boggle the brain.  So I can't help but think about why these tedious, meticulous chapters of names appear in the Bible - God's word to his people - to me.  Somehow, God wants to speak to us through these names... through this long genealogy.  

I love technology.  Computers and the internet amaze me.  There is more information at my fingertips - through my keyboard - sifting through cyberspace than has been available in the whole of mankind's history.  If I have a question about something - anything - I google it.  Yes, I have to sift through the results.  Yes, some of the information out there is not very reliable.  But, goodness, information is out there!

So, imagine first, a world without technology.  A hierarchic world of the twelve tribes of Israel - God's chosen people - given God's promise and blessing.  This world of haves and have nots - shepherds, farmers, builders, craftsmen, musicians, priests and their attendent assistants.  Like in medieval times - families passed down their occupations, fathers to sons, to sons, to sons.  In this world, wouldn't it be paramount to know your father, grandfather, and great-grandfather?  Wouldn't a certain amount of pride be taken by those haves - knowing that they were descended from national heroes (not that they would think of Aaron or Moses in those terms).  

And we are the same.  Just look around.  People are searching for their roots.  Here in the US, they get excited to know they are descended from George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson, or some other famous statesman, inventor, or military hero.  There are entire computer programs and websites dedicated to helping us research our past generations.  Companies are dedicated to tracing the ethnicities present in our DNA.  We want to know where we came from.

So did the Israelites.  Chronicles does just that.  It tells them.  But it tells them in a way that they can remember, pre-technology.  With repetition and rhythm.  I read first Chronicles, Chapter 6 today.  The twelve tribes of Israel were actually sons of a man named Israel, who was a son of Esau, who was a son of Isaac, who was a son of Abraham.   I remember hearing stories about Israel, Esau, Isaac, and Abraham as a child in Sunday school.  I'll bet there were family stories about most of the names written in Chronicles.  I'll bet they were funny, or sad, or told to teach a lesson - just like family stories today.  

Chapter 6 is all about the priesthood - descendants of Levi were set apart to serve God in the tabernacle.  Once I got past the names, I realized that this chapter listed from the back to the front, and then again, from the front to the back.  It was like the writer had to show the whole picture first, the progression from Levi to the time of the writer.  And then he had to prove that the people who were in the appointed positions were actually justified to be there - so listed their genealogy back to Levi.  I like the purposeful-ness of that kind of thinking.  I like the symmetry and order.  I bet it was comforting in those times to feel that kind of fit, that kind of belonging.  

Too often, today, I feel the disconnectedness and the live-in-the-now, live-for-the-moment of our broken society.  We are broken.  Across families.  Across communities.  Across nations.  We live in separation from our parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters.  We live in communities of strangers, behind privacy fences and locked gates.  Where is our fit, our belonging? 

So here's my take on Chronicles.  It's all about God's order and perfect plan. These names represent a pedigree for occupation, they represent family connection - linearly to the base of the family tree as well as horizontally across the branches, and they remind us that we, in the present day, are not so different from the people in biblical times.  We are not so different from each other.  We are children of God - our fit and our belonging is with Him.

Thank you, God, for showing me again, that my place is with You. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops.
What if your healing comes through tears.
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near.
What if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise...

There was a time in my life when I thought that God was kind of like Santa Claus; he came bringing presents - like Santa around Christmas.  Then there was a time I didn't believe in God at all; let alone, a God of gifts.  Life has changed my way of thinking.  God, in my life, has changed me.

A couple of weeks ago, a talented musician in our church sang the song "Blessings" by Laura Story, during the offering.  What a beautiful song; it moved me to tears.  The chorus, however is what spoke to me the most.  Listen.  

I remember learning the 23rd Psalm in Bible School years ago.  My sisters and I went to this little church a couple of blocks away after school on Mondays.  My favorite parts of those afternoons were the felt-board stories - stories about kings, and lions' dens, and angels, giant-killers, and strong men with magic hair, the songs - Jesus Loves Me, Stop and Let Me Tell You, and the New Testament Song, and I loved the crafts.     I did NOT love the memorization we were expected to accomplish.  Looking back, I am thankful for the verses I was able to memorize:  the Lord's Prayer, John 3:16, and Psalm 23.  

I was a child.  Psalm 23 was scary to me.  It spoke of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  I pictured skeletons, and a hooded Grim Reaper with a sharpened scythe.  I didn't want to ever go through that valley.... little did I know then, that years later I would be living entire chapters of my life in that valley.  

Laura Story, the woman who wrote and sings Blessings, has said that God doesn't always give us what we want; He gives us what we need.  Psalm 23 is like that.  God gives us green pastures and still waters.  He restores our soul - he comforts and strengthens us.  He lifts us up in front of our enemies and blesses us.  These are the gifts we recognize, kind of like Santa Claus at Christmas.  But he also leads us into that scary Valley of the Shadow of  Death.  It's not a yea, though as in if - it's a yea, though I walk as in when.  When I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, you God, are with me.  Your rod and your staff will comfort me (and bring me safely through...).  Thank you, God, for the unusual blessing of the Valley of the Shadow.

It is an unusual blessing.  We are tempered in the Valley of the Shadow.  We grow; we mature; we ask forgiveness; we seek Him.  For whatever reason - God takes us through that Valley.  To strengthen us, to help us hone our faith in Him, to allow us to feel compassion, to appreciate peace, to yearn for His stillness.  Our God is sovereign - we simply go where He leads.  

What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Song lyrics from Blessings, by Laura Story