Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ocean and Sky

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. 
Micah 7:18-19

It's been a quiet morning.  My husband left early to go back to work for a couple of hours-unfinished business-work is never done... My nephew is sleeping on the sofa bed, curled up, blanket half on, didn't even bother to put a sheet under. But he's 17, what do you expect.  I've been enjoying the sound of the waves and the changing of the sky, and my daughter's excitement for the coming day.  She already has her favorite bathing suit on, and is finishing up her breakfast.  My sister is asleep on the small sofa-hugging a pillow to her chest, knees drawn up, hand to mouth.  Restful.  Peaceful.

It's that ever-changing sky that has my attention.  How the clouds gather, then pull apart along uneven lines allowing the light of heaven to shine through.  The light of heaven.  God's glory.  Shines through and ignites the water below so that it looks like rippled glass - ever moving, ever shifting, rolling forward in uneven waves to the shore.  

I keep bringing my camera out to try to capture the movement, like a kinetic sculpture, and I realize that I probably won't quite get it.  The lens only sees so much.  It only focuses on bits and pieces of the whole - like being inside a life-sized jigsaw puzzle.  Even as I write, the sky has darkened again, clouds knitting together to close those ragged edges of glory.  The ocean is gray and gray - still rolling toward the shore.

In my head, I know this ocean.  I know this sky.  I know this earth.  But my heart, my soul is still filled with the mystery and wonder of it all.  I imagine the water on my skin - the salt water and waves lifting me -holding me.  I feel the rocking of the deep - ancient, strong, possessive.  Mine.  You are mine.  Ocean lullaby.  Rocking in God's hand.  

And I return to the sand, to the shore, to the earth and life.  Renewed.  Refreshed. Clean.  Whole.  By water, we are baptized - by the spirit we are freed.  Our iniquities have been cast away and we begin again.

Heavenly Father, God of the ocean and sky, thank you for renewal.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Light and Glory

The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
Isaiah 61:19


I used to like to watch this show on television - something about a young doctor who has to practice medicine in a backwater town in Alaska in order to pay back his student loan.  It was quirky with some really off-the-wall characters and situations.  I could relate to the episode that had the whole town wearing visors with little light bulbs in the brim.  Someone in the town had invented the things because of the long hours of darkness in the winter - because the people needed light.  So they carried it around with them.  The little lighted visors kept the townsfolk happy.  Quirky.  I got it; I crave light as well.

Several years ago, I went to Indiana to care for my grandmother who had undergone surgery for an aortal aneurism.  I spent autumn and part of the winter with her in the split level home my grandfather had built for their retirement.  I don't know that I had ever spent much time with her in the cold months; I think a Christmas here and there...  She did this thing to insulate the windows.  She folded newspaper and pushed it between the window frame and the window - sealing the cracks, she said.  Then she spread newspaper across the whole window and taped it in - then closed the curtains - for the winter!  She said when I paid the utilities, I would understand...  But it was like turning out the sun.  I remember going out to sit on the front porch, bundled in my down coat and hat, just so I could spend some time in the light.  Not the artificial-light-bulb light; I needed sunlight.

I did some research on light.  It was kind of fascinating in that I'm-not-a-physicist way that I probably didn't really understand everything I read.  But from what I could tell, it took awhile for anyone to figure out light.  It ends up being a combination of things - particles that act like waves - that radiate (like 'rays').  It reflects.  It refracts.  It can be absorbed.  The light we see isn't even a thousandth of the kinds of electro-magnetic radiation that travel around.  Radio waves are a form of light.  So are microwaves.  And infrared, ultraviolet, x-rays, and gamma rays.

There's more...  Colors.  We don't actually see the color, we see its reflection.  Whatever is not absorbed by the object, whatever is reflected off of it, is what we see.  So an apple isn't really red.  It's all the other colors.  Red is exactly what the apple isn't because the red we see is reflected from the apple.  Away.  Not part of it.  How cool is that??

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

So, imagine a light brighter than the sun.  Imagine the creator of light.

Maybe what I've always craved wasn't just physical sunlight.  Maybe it was glory.  Maybe I, too, have that God-shaped hole in my inner soul - a God-shaped hole that can only be filled by holy light - the light of God - the Glory of God.  Maybe I need to allow God to be my everlasting light.  Hmmm....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Covenant of Peace

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. 
Isaiah 54:10

It has been an eventful two weeks.  We signed for our house.  We installed a new floor, and painted two rooms.  We handled a couple of plumbing issues.  We moved our things from the rental to the new home.  We cleaned, patched, painted and mowed at the rental.  Our service provider for internet and tv said he'd have to dig under the driveway for installation.  We canceled, called around and found someone else.  We are now hooked up.  We had the truck inspected in order to get it registered.  It failed.  The people who worked on it, did not do the job correctly.  We titled and licensed the truck.  Little things - nothing like shaking mountains or removable hills - but enough to fill our days and make for uninterrupted sleep through nights too short to completely replenish.  

Tired.  Sore.  A little bit grumpy.

We are in a beautiful house.  We have met the neighbors; they are wonderfully friendly.  Household stuff is getting organized and put away.  Our dining room set that has been unavailable for the last year is being assembled, cleaned, and readied for use.  Moving furniture, hanging curtains and pictures, deciding on bathroom towels and rugs.... Every house we've lived in has had its own personality - its own needs - its own way to show off.  The challenge is to discover that personality, those needs - to facilitate the making of a home.

House and home - two different things.  A house is a shelter, a base of operations, a physical place.  A home is a refuge, a sanctuary - comfortable, safe, efficient.  We have just moved from a house to a home.  Like a covenant of peace.  Just a little more work to go...

Heavenly Father, thank you for our new home.  Help us to make it a place of comfort and peace for all - for our family and for our guests.  Help us to recognize you in every part of our lives and our world and to put you first in everything we do.  Thank you.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#TellHisStory: Why Not?

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. 
Isaiah 62:10a

My daughter cracks me up.  

The other day, my husband decided he would vacuum the family room (I know, he really is pretty  wonderful...).  Thorough man that he is, he saw there were some crumbs in the sofa, so he spent some time vacuuming them up as well.  And of course, I heard about it.  Because we have a family rule:  no eating in the family room.  He knew who'd been eating.  The evidence was clear.  Apparently there had been massive amounts of crumbs embedded in the sofa right where my daughter sits during the day - to work, read, and watch her movies.  Hmmm....

So I asked her about it - 

Me:  Were you eating in the family room?
Sierra:  No, I wasn't
Me:  Really?  You didn't eat in the family room?
Sierra:  No, I wasn't
Me:  Kevin found some crumbs in the sofa...
Sierra:  No, not me
Me:  He said it was a lot of crumbs
Sierra:  At 3:00
Me (realizing that her schedule had her snacking at 3:00):  Oh, do you get a snack at 3:00?
Sierra:  Kevin's chips
Me:  You eat some of Kevin's chips at 3:00?
Sierra:  Yes
Me:  Do you eat a lot of chips, or just a few chips?
Sierra: Two
Me:  You eat two chips?
Sierra: Three

OK, you have to know, I was having a really hard time keeping a straight face about now in the conversation.  A little background - my daughter has Down Syndrome.  She just turned 22.  Her academic IQ is not especially high; in fact, it puts her in the 'moderate' range of functioning.  But she definitely has something special on the social scale.  I already knew she wasn't eating very much of a snack because I buy the chips and my husband hadn't noticed them being gone.  Conversations with my daughter are always fun - I don't want my questions to influence her answers, so it's more a process of teasing out extra pieces of information, sometimes one at a time, until the whole story can be told... 

Me:  Three?  You eat three chips?
Sierra: (smiling now): Four 
Me (smiling too - not sure how much more I can take before I really laugh): Four?
Sierra:  Yes, four
Me:  So you eat four of Kevin's chips when you have snack?
Sierra:  Yes
Me:  Do you eat them on the sofa?
Sierra (voice dropping off just a tad...): Yes

Whole story.  The crumbs were Sierra's.  From eating four chips in the family room, on the sofa, at three o'clock.  I felt like I was playing Clue.  From there, it really was just a matter of re-telling her that she needs to eat her chips in the kitchen - her four chips....

Here's the thing.  I can't imagine my life without my daughter.  She will probably always live with my husband and me.  She is definitely differently abled and so our lives have been differently lived - not in a bad way.  I think we all begin with certain expectations of how our lives will be.  I know I did.  And Sierra was not my expectation.  But I believe she was God's.  Years ago, when she was born,  I know I wasn't the only one who asked, "Why me?"  God said, Why not? and I've been thanking Him ever since.

God, thank you for my daughter.  Thank you for her sense of humor, for her honesty, and for her presence in our lives.  You knew - thank you.

Linking with TellHisStory

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In A Heartbeat

"Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."  But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD. 
Jeremiah 1:6-8

My husband and I sit in church together.  I like that.  I like that we listen to the same message with different ears - with different perspectives - even though we have technically shared the same life for the last 18 years.  He surprises me sometimes.  I like that, too.

One Sunday, after a message about giving up all your worldly goods to follow Jesus, I asked my husband if he would do that - give everything up.  We had just bought a home - our first home purchase - and he'd done some updating and remodeling.  I loved going to work and coming home to spacious and pretty.  My home had become a kind of sanctuary to me, a retreat.  So I asked him if he'd be willing to give it all up to follow Jesus - like the disciples - to, in a sense, become homeless...the shirt on his back, not knowing about his next meal or where he'd sleep...  He surprised me.

"In a hearbeat," he said, in that no-uncertain-terms way he has.  Like of course I would, wouldn't you - I think he saw the look on my face - the look that doubted, that second-guessed, that said I wasn't sure.  

"It's Jesus."  He told me, like how can you even think otherwise.  Like there was only one answer to that question.  Like how can you even doubt.  It wasn't his answer I wasn't sure of - it was mine.

And my head said, how could I ever give up? How could I live without?  But what about... and surely he didn't mean...  And my heart said, why not?  Why are you anxious?  What do you fear?  And I pictured myself on a long road, without any cars, without any buildings, without any people - alone - except for all my worldly goods, scattered around me in boxes and disarray.  All mine.  Empty things.

And I thought oh-my-goodness-I-would-give-it-all-up-to-follow-Him... Just one second, just one minute in His presence would be more than any sanctuary, better than any retreat.  I want to live for, with, and forever about HIM.

And everything falls into place - Jesus with his disciples - speaking to the rich man.  Telling him he has only to give everything away.  Only.  And the rich man walking away - he couldn't do it.  And Jesus telling his disciples it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle...  And his disciples asking him how that was possible - that - the eye of the needle - and Jesus saying they couldn't do it - they'd never be able to do it except through God.  And that's the crux.  That's the point.  Nothing is possible without Him - all things are possible with Him.

And my heart echoes my husband - in a heartbeat - and my head says Yes, in a heartbeat.

I Can Only Imagine     Mercy Me

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by Your side
I can only imagine 
what my eyes will see
When Your face is before me
I can only imagine  Yeah

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You Jesus?
Or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing, Hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
And I find myself standing in the sun
I can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine, yeah
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You Jesus?
Or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing, Hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

When all I would do
Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine

Heavenly Father, thank you for different perspectives.  Through you all things are possible.  Help me to trust you more.

Monday, June 10, 2013

#TellHisStory: Well-Chosen Words

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
I Peter 4:10

That moment when you've tried your best at something you really care about and you can't go another step without sharing it with someone.  So you handpick that certain someone and show them what you've done.  You wait increasingly impatiently until the whisper inside your head has become such a roar that you can't possibly hold it in anymore.  Well...?  You say, as calmly and in the most normal voice you can muster, but you know that if you have to ask then it isn't good at all.  Not nearly what you'd hoped and your heart sinks inside your chest and you do everything you can do to keep your face from falling, to keep from showing that handpicked someone how much you just wanted to hear Wonderful, Amazing, Better than good.  This is what you were born to do.  It's a gift.  Those simple words would be the best gift you could hope for - the one that says well done, it was worth the effort, it was worth the feeling of nakedness, of exposure - sharing that part of yourself that's most important, that you care so very much about - the most precious, intimate part of who you are.

I am a writer.  I thought I was a writer years ago, before college, but taking a college class early threw me off.  No freedom - stick to the basics.  I didn't know those basics well enough to use them to my advantage.  Words of encouragement from my high school professor helped - This writing doesn't even look like your work, he said, shaking his head.  You can do better than this.

He gave us an assignment - I don't even remember what, except that it's on the back of a note he wrote to me... a note I still have.

It's about 5:00 pm, and I'm rather tired of correcting papers.  After reading this mess, I felt a closeness with Ms Janet, and decided to stop correcting papers and speak awhile to her.

There may have been times in the recent past where I spoke or dealt harshly with you -- if you don't remember them you were fortunate enough not to receive a bit of the distaste that I've felt for you in the recent past.  For it's true, I have been rather disappointed with you as a student occasionally, not as a human being, for I've got more respect for you as a human being than most of the rest of my students.  But as a student, Janet, I've not been terribly excited about your behavior.  It seems to me that Janet is a really intelligent, perceptive, high-strung, emotional woman, very sensitive to the world around her, yet full of dodging shrouds and veils which are constructed or worn to hide that reality.  In short, Janet doesn't want to be Janet, she really wants to be "high-school heroine," immature, swaggering, adolescent.  You're unwilling really to be the mature, bright kid you know you are; you'd rather be "one of the gang."

That, of course, isn't "all bad."  But the possibility exists that some potential growth may be stunted as a result of the mask.  And any stunting to someone with the wealth of potential you have is not only destructive to you, I believe, but to me as well, and, strangely enough, the world around you.

Don't misunderstand me, Janet, there's been nothing in your behavior to make me feel you're a delinquent, and you haven't upset me at all with any antics.  What bothers me is the pattern, the mold you seem to take from those around you, while I see in your writing, a powerful mind whose intelligence and maturity transcend the greatest efforts of you peers.  That Jekyll & Hyde business is tough to play, an there are times that I think I see the sweet-sour face of the proverbial "crying clown."  And that's sad, from my point of view, for two reasons.
One, it's not good for you.  As you continue to modulate between two self-appointed roles, your real self becomes more vague, your class image more distinct.  That's a loss.
Two, it's not good for others, for they could be profiting from your leadership in other ways, other ways far more meaningful and important to them as individuals.
In my years of teaching, I've not had too many students as bright as Janet, but that very limited number I've not had any that try to hide their brilliance quite as much as you do.

You are to be the recipient of this year's award for best English student, Janet, because you are, with little doubt, my best student.  But you aren't even as good as you could be, because you refuse to acknowledge your own intelligence and maturity.

In the very near future, you'll find the real happiness that you sometimes now feign.  If you don't know now what all of this means, you'll certainly know then.

It's been a pleasure having you as a student Janet, and I hope someday to read your articles in English Journal, or some such rubbish!  Best wishes to someone whose future is as open as the Arizona sky.


He cared, didn't he?  He wrote this on the back of an assignment I hadn't finished.  It was a tough read - encouraging, convicting.  I didn't believe him, back then, so many years ago.  I didn't think I was wearing masks and veils.  I didn't think I was hiding anyone - and of course I wanted to have friends...  I didn't believe the parts that said brilliant, powerful mind, best, intelligent.  But I wanted to keep those parts; I wanted them to be true.  I wanted to be special; but I didn't believe I was.

A lot of other things came between me and writing since this oh-my-goodness-it's-been-almost-forty-years-since-high-school note.  Other careers.  Other encouragers, other influences.  A lot of successes.  Some disappointments.  Maturity.

I am a writer.  Writing isn't something you do - it's someone you are.  It is my passion; it is my trial.  Yes, I still want to hear well done - I still wait impatiently for reaction - I still feel exposed.  Words.  They mean so much.  Encouraging words, discouraging words.  I was the fortunate recipient of well-chosen words.  I think about that note when I go into my classroom - with my students, when I'm with my friends, when I talk to family - even when I write to the unknown and faceless.

Writing is a part of who I am.  It took years for me to fully understand what this man was saying.  It took years to connect all of the dots - the dots he drew by taking his time, his thoughts, his carefully crafted words.  He used his own gift, to try to help me with mine.  I am ready to own the writer inside, but with ownership comes responsibility.  I owe a lot to my high school teacher - this man who went on to teach at a small Christian College - who retired just last year - whose well-chosen words I still look forward to reading.  He made a difference - even years later.

Heavenly Father, thank you.  You always know exactly what we need - when we need it.  Sometimes it takes the form of a note on the back of a high-school assignment.  Help us to use our gifts to glorify You - help us to be positive and encouraging.  Help us to choose our words well.

Linking With Jennifer at TellHisStory

Friday, June 7, 2013

#TellHisStory: Nothing More

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Isaiah 55:1

Once, an old man in a village had weak eyesight.  Much as he tried, he couldn't see the details of the world around him.  This state of affairs had been going on for so long, that he was beginning to forget that details existed.  His world was getting smaller, and plainer - every year a little bit smaller, a little bit plainer.  Finally, he stopped looking at objects or people as individual and unique.  He just went through his days fulfilling his obligations.  Nothing more.

In the same village, lived a woman who was losing her hearing gradually.  First high-pitched birdsong and whistles.  Then the low, gravelly speech of the village elder.  Season by season, year by year, she missed more and more of the sounds of the village.  Until she finally rose in the morning, worked in the day, and went to sleep at night in a blur of muted noises.  She could no longer distinguish the sounds that used to annoy her:  the rise and fall of her neighbors arguing; her husband's nightly snores; the noises of the village children.  She could no longer differentiate music, or laughter.  It was all the same - a background tapestry of subdued sound.  She just went through her days fulfilling her obligations.  Nothing more.

There was a beggar in the village - a simple-minded young man with a raggedy coat and a crutch to help with his limp.  Day after day he sat and wandered, sat and wandered, looking for scraps and leftovers from the people of the village.  He slept in the village stable in exchange for cleaning out the stalls.  He smiled and he laughed as he went through his days fulfilling his obligations.  He didn't know a better life; it was good enough.

One day, a stranger came to the village.  He was dressed in an ordinary manner.  But the villagers didn't find him to be an ordinary man.  No, indeed.  Wherever he walked, wherever he strode, it seemed he took light along him.  Colors became more vivid in his wake.  Hard lines softened - what was dull, sharpened, what was dim, brightened.  When he spoke, the words came out like music, like poetry; just the sound of his voice caused a stir.  When he smiled, the sun shone.  When he laughed, the air seemed to chuckle as well.  He moved with the gracefulness and gentleness of grass in a breeze.  Strong, resilient, fluid.

No one knew what his business was - why he had come to their small hamlet.  Curiosity reigned.  There was a familiarity about him; recognizable.  Something about him resonated within the village.  First it was the children, then mothers and wives, the old, and finally the men - who began to follow the stranger.  Walk with him.  Drink in his words - the music from his lips.

But there were three who were unable to join the crowds - the blind man, the deaf woman, and the beggar.

So the stranger went to them.

"What do you see?" He asked the old man with weak eyesight.

The man looked out to the fields beyond the road.  "I see the blue of the sky and the green of the grass."

"What do you see?"  The stranger asked again.

The man looked at the crowd that had gathered - his old eyes swimming with the effort to focus through the fog of his vision.  "I see a sea of faces floating on an ocean of cloaks - some darker, some lighter, some smaller, some large."

"What do you see?"  The visitor took the old man's face in his hand, and turned him so that he gazed upon the stranger.

The atmosphere around them, around the two as well as the following crowd had curiously changed.  It felt like a wind a blown, yet no cloak or hair had moved.  Arms were tingling, goosebumps forming.

The old man stared.  And was silent.  The crowd held their breath.  The old man squinted, then relaxed his eyes and stared again.  And again, remained silent.  The crowd inched forward.  The old man opened his eyes wide.  He focused on the face of the stranger before him.  And he started to smile.

"I see you, Lord."  He whispered.  "I see you."  A low murmur went through the crowd.  He sees, they remarked, he sees... And from that day on, the old man saw.

The stranger went next to the woman who had lost her hearing.  He took her hands in his.  They stood for a moment, as if alone, the visitor welcoming her into his peculiar light-filled presence.  Then he took her in an embrace and put his mouth next to her ear.  None could hear what he said.  None knew the words.  All saw the result.  When he released the woman, the joy on her face shone like a full-moon night - lighting the darkness of the crowd.  She began to sing.  Her clear, pure voice floated above them; it twined between them, like a vine, growing and reaching. The melody of it filled their ears with music.  It was the sound of healing.  And it was good.

The last to be seen by the stranger was the beggar.  They sat together in the dirt, by the stable where he worked, where he slept.  The boy smiled at his visitor.  Trusting.  Simple.  Pure.  The stranger gazed back, the light around him encompassing them both.  He turned to the crowd.

"Leave us."  He commanded, softly.

Disappointed, for they wanted more, the people turned and made their way back to their homes, to their families, to their obligations.  However, the village never quite returned to it's ordinary self.  The light seemed just a little brighter.  The air seemed a little clearer.  There were fewer arguments, and more music.  More smiles.  The villagers set about to prepare a feast for the stranger, a celebration when he returned for all he'd done.  The old man and the woman - the two made whole by the stranger also left - their gratitude immeasurable.

The stranger took the boy's hand in his.  At his touch, the boy began to laugh.  He laughed as they walked, hand in hand out of the village.  They laughed together.  Nothing more.

Heavenly Father, thank you for grace.

Linking with Tell His Story

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Breaking Into Delight

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Saturday morning is family time for us.  Unless my husband has duty, we get to do a little sleeping in.  We get to have coffee together - all of us - my husband, my daughter, and me.  We catch up on the week; we discuss weekend plans.  We decide on our upcoming meals and menus and put together a shopping list.  Mundane, ordinary, comforting.  

We are a military family.  My husband is a soldier.  That means a lot of different things in our home.  It means wake-up at 3:30 AM.  It means physical conditioning.  It means long days and phone calls in the middle of the night; it means brief kisses and hurried meals.  It means a closet full of gear and a closet full of uniforms - all hanging and organized in neat rows of digital camouflage and army green.  It means deployment - skype, email, text messages.  Expectations.  Being Army Strong.

Saturday is grocery-shopping day.  That means a trip to the commissary on post.  That means ID cards, and going through the gate.  That means guards - serious soldiers in uniform checking those IDs.  It also means my daughter, in the passenger seat with a grocery list on a clipboard.  Smiling.  And waving.  Reminding me to get my ID ready.  Waving at the guards - who peer through the open window and break unexpectedly out of seriousness and into delight.  

She does it everywhere we go - on post and off post.  She charms people.  Tough, worldly, burly people.  Rank doesn't matter.   Size doesn't matter.  Race doesn't matter.  She smiles and they melt.  It's a visible reaction.  

So, imagine God, the Mighty Warrior, taking delight in us.  What a concept.  The strong melting for the weak.  Our soldiers are trained in war.  They are expected to exemplify army values - loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.  If our soldiers, how much more a Warrior God?   Do you picture strength?  Do you see a defender?  Do you see the upright posture, the confidence, the leadership?  Now snapshot a child into that picture.  The Warrior God bends, reaching out a hand, leaning in to listen, smiling, nodding.  The Warrior God delighting in his children - in his family.   

Like the guards at the gate - leaning into the window to share my daughter's joy.  The strong rejoicing with the weak.  It's an amazing thought - our Warrior God takes great delight in us;  He rejoices over us with singing.  He sings for us!  

Heavenly Father, thank you for your strength, your watchfulness, your devotion - thank you for your delight - even in our weakness.  Thank you for showing us the tender side of your warrior nature.  Thank you for your love.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Maybe They Would Even Use Words

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9

"I don't know."  He could hear his voice climbing, louder, higher in pitch.  He was stabbing his towel at the dishes.  He knew he should have made the phone call earlier - the one to the cable company - to ask about the addition on their bill.  He had told her he would.  But, darn it, he was busy.  He'd had to attend yet another foolish-get-nothing-done meeting, and he'd been volunteered to oversee the next presentation by the same guy who had called the meeting.  Again.  

Picking up another dish from the drainer, he watched his wife as she washed.  The same motions, over and over.  Pick up dish, submerge in soapy water, wipe with the sponge, check, wipe again, rinse.  She hadn't answered his outburst yet.  She was doing that thing she did.  The thing that annoyed him more than anything.  That tiptoeing thing.  He knew she knew he was close to the edge.  He knew she could hear it in his voice.  He hated that she could hear it in his voice, but after 20 years of marriage, what did he really expect....someone who couldn't read his mind?

"I can't read your mind, you know..."

Uh-oh.  She really was doing it again, she knew exactly what he was thinking.  Here was the place where she would talk about the importance of communicating.  He could feel his eyes roll before he could stop them.   She was going to use words like frustrated, and confused - talk about how she felt - how he made her feel - tiptoeing around the fact that it was his fault.  God forbid she actually tell him right out that it was his fault.  He didn't make the phone call.  Done.  He hated that she felt so cautious - so skitter-y.  Times like this, he thought, she was actually afraid of him.  

He stabbed the towel at the next dish and allowed it to clatter on the countertop.  He knew they weren't really getting dry the way he was handling them - and that noise just now had been a little bit satisfying... It sounded like how he felt - a bull in a china shop - his wife the china.  He didn't know how to dance around issues.

"I'm just confused, I guess..."  

Yeah, confused, my foot.  This was her way of saying it was his fault by way of being her fault.  Confused, ha!  Slam, went another dish.

She jumped.  Then looked at him.  He could see it start, the nose was getting red, the eyes were watering.  She was going to cry - over some silly dishes and a mistake on the cable bill.   She had her hands in the water, still as dead fish in the suds.  And he had the sudden urge to take her in his arms and protect her.  Protect her from her tears.  Protect her from her pretended confusion - from her tiptoeing around his temper.  Stupid temper.  Stupid phone call.  

"Don't cry," he pulled her wet hands out of the water and reached his arms through hers, turning her toward him, away from the sink, away from the dishes.  "Don't cry.  I had a rough day.  One too many meetings about things that don't matter."

She had her brave face on - the one that just let the tears fall silently from wide-open eyes - the one that said she desperately wanted everything to be alright.  The face that asked why-do-we-make-an-argument-out-of-everything?  

And he didn't know the answer.  He knew that when she cried, his temper melted away.   He tried to shake the thought out of his head.  When she cried... his temper melted away.  When his temper melted away, they talked.  When she cried, they talked.  What an emotional roller coaster that must be!  No wonder she tiptoed - she already knew where the roller coaster was.  She knew the exact turn, hill, roll, and curve.

He turned her face up to his; he was onto something.  It didn't have to be that way.  They really did need to communicate more - she was right.  But they needed to do it in a healthier manner.  He needed to keep the anger and frustration out; she needed to stop tiptoeing around straight issues - like a missed phone call.  They needed to talk.  He looked down at her, a smile gathering on his mouth.   I'm sorry, he mouthed.  Me, too, her eyes said.  He took her hand and squeezed it.  She squeezed back.  His smile grew wider.  Maybe, in a little while, they would talk, maybe they would even use words....

Heavenly Father, help us to communicate clearly without the muddying effects of temper and manipulation.  Help us to love one another in our words and our actions.  Help us to feel your peace and to translate that peace to others - especially to the people we love the most.  
Thank you.

Monday, June 3, 2013


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8


in the beginning
void void void
infinite spirit
floating in
above and through

was the Word
authority and power
Let there be
whisper soft
and there was

and the Word was with God
glorious light
come, join
take comfort, rest
it was good
verily verily

He was with God
passion and strength
- and there was evening 
- and there was morning

in the beginning
through Him all things were made

in Him was life
in the image of God
His Son

the Light shines in the darkness
the darkness has not overcome it


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kicking and Screaming

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

God has a funny sense of humor.  Well, I guess that kind of goes without saying...  If you think of us as created in God's image... and we have some pretty good comedians... then God must be a pretty good comedian.  This Christianity thing, though, oh-my-goodness-is-it-ever-so-serious sometimes.  And it doesn't have to be.  I think God likes to laugh.  I think we'd better learn to laugh with him because he certainly laughs with some of our antics.  We might as well enjoy the fun.... 

Yes, I believe.  Yes, I try to obey - operative word is try...  Yes, I believe I am being changed, grown, cultivated, into a stronger, better, more Christ-like person.  And yes, I do it willingly. 

But it wasn't always that way.  Once upon awhile ago, even after a blessed childhood in a good, Christian home, I left the faith.  I denied God and in the process I denied Jesus.  It hurts to even write about it - so, no - this isn't the funny part.  Yet.  After a good decade of nothing very important, I decided I was going to look into the Christianity thing again;  I decided it was time to find out what the faith club was all about; I finally decided it was time to fill that God-shaped hole in my being.  It's easier to write it in shorthand than to go through all the reasons - because the story isn't in the decision itself.  The story is in the process.  Read:  My Journey Toward the Christian Lifeby Janet.

God literally pulled me into Christian living kicking and screaming.  First, I went to the classes.  They met once a week at the local church I had sporadically attended.  I liked the music and some of my friends went there.  The very first class convinced me that my oh-so-logical viewpoint of Christ was wrong.  He was, in fact, not only a good man (which I knew by his actions), but he was the Son of God (which he told everyone who would listen).  He was really the Son of God because, a. he wasn't crazy-deluded, and b. he wasn't an evil villain out to pull a world-changing charade.  He was who he said he was which meant my carefully-crafted theology of non-belief was wrong.  Dead wrong.  If he was the Son of God, than there was a God.  Uh-oh.  I was in trouble!

Yes, you can start to chuckle at the frantic scrambling.  Of course I was now obligated to attend every single one of those classes.  The ones that explain the whys and wherefores of Christianity.   Kicking and screaming.  I had to make room in my schedule of teaching and a second job in order to attend.  I had to stay up later than my normal bedtime (losing beauty sleep...).

Then I was told that reading Scripture was part of the Christian life.  Huh?  I have to attend classes, and now I have to read the bible?  Oh, and by the way, we should really read Scripture daily.  Every day!  Daily as in every day??  So, hang on, I have to keep up with my family and work, go to these weekly religion classes, AND read my bible every day?

Scramble scramble.

Next, came the praying part.  Of course daily-every-day.  And no, reading the scripture is not praying, and praying is not reading the scripture, and even though you're doing both during class once a week, you really need to be praying and reading God's word daily.  At least daily.  Maybe even more than once a day.  Someone snuck in a more-than-once-a-day when I wasn't looking!  Because I was so busy trying to be a good Christian...

Scramble scramble.

I actually started to complain in the classes when they brought up journaling.  Kicking and screaming - it was the last straw.  Either the leaders of my small group thought I was totally nuts and were placating my schizoid behavior, or they'd seen it all before and knew I'd eventually come around.  They calmly went on with the discussion.  Kind of like ignoring the tantrum of a two-year old.  Even my husband was keeping his distance from this crazy wife who was trying to fit a new life into an old one; I was trying to stick a square peg into a round hole.  God was up in heaven just cracking up.

Scramble scramble.

Have you figured it out?  What was so funny?  Why God was laughing?  Here's where we are:  Weekly classes, plus I started to sing in the choir, so a service and a half on Sunday, reading the bible daily, praying - a LOT, keeping a prayer journal to track asked-for prayers, and answered prayers, and yes, even taking notes on my scripture reading - drawing diagrams and organizing tables - comparing and contrasting.

Scramble scramble.

God, am I doing ok, yet?  Do you love me yet?  And the whole time, the Holy Spirit was in me, working His magic.  Transforming.  Square peg slowly rounding up...Certain words and verses started to stick out in my reading.  Forgiveness, grace, unearned.  Undeserved.  Me.

Yet...yet... Do you hear him?  God laughing?   Not at me, never at me.  With me.  All that scrambling, all that kicking and screaming - trying to deserve, to earn - when all I had to do was accept.  Yes.  God chuckling now, it was a good I get it.  Somewhere I had missed the point.  Not through works, but by His grace.  Thank God for grace!  He wants us to walk with him, to talk with him.  How else but through His Word?  (Oh!  the bible AND the Son!  See how the holy spirit works...)  How else but through conversation in prayer?  It's not a scramble scramble thing.  It's not a kicking and screaming thing.  It's an open-your-heart-and-learn-the-language thing.  It's not work - it's I want to.  Because I know I can't live without Him, not one day, not one hour, not one second longer than I did when I denied him.  And He already forgave me for that.  He just wants me to be wholly His.  And sometimes, we just have to laugh together at how He made it happen.

Heavenly Father, thank you for all the silly kicking and screaming; thank you for the memories of my scramble-scramble to be yours when all I ever had to do was accept You.  You.  Are.  Wonderful. 
 Help me to walk humbly with you. 
I love you.

God has graciously placed me in a full-time position at a school as a long-term sub for a woman who is battling a life-changing, life-threatening illness.  Except for the fact that my writing time has dwindled down to nothing, it is a good fit.  I pulled this from the archives - wanted to share.  I miss my blogging community.

This week I'm linking with Beth at Three Word Wednesday, and Emily at Imperfect Prose.