Monday, September 8, 2014

Surprised and Humbled



There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:4-6

Remembering back to a time and place about 30 years ago... and a lesson learned that I will never forget -

We sit at the campfire and talk, freshly caught trout, cleaned, seasoned and clamped into the basket over the flames, hot chocolates in our hands.  We talk, and we laugh, and we wonder at the stars because here in the north country, we can see the stars winding away in a wide path more like a sparkling, spiraling yellow-brick road, silvery-white rather, and leading not to an emerald city but to mystery and marvel, to a universe of possibility.  We talk.

He is a middle son from Mississippi.  Five older siblings, six younger, twelve kids altogether.  We talk about the dinner table, the nicknames, the chores, the escape from snakes and swamp and prejudice.  He makes me laugh at the chicken story.  With a family that size, everyone gets their own part of the chicken.  His part is the neck.  He says he thinks he would have grown taller, stronger, bigger if he'd gotten a part with a little more meat.  He was, after all, a 12-pound baby and now, at 30, he only tops out at six feet.

I think it might not be his size that is affected, but perhaps his patience.  I see it with the fishing line when it becomes hopelessly tangled in my reel.  I see it in his watching and waiting, line in the water, hooks dangling, hands loose and ready to feel the slightest of tugs.  Ready to react.  I also see it when he stops by the bar on his way home from work.  He orders a beer and sits with it, watching the currents of people who ebb and flow through the room.  Sits with it, nursing it, slow smile loose and ready to feel the slightest of tugs.  I hear it in his words, in a slow Mississippi drawl that comes out just a little bit muddy sometimes, but worth the listen because he speaks wisdom .  Wisdom from navigating the pale waters of Phoenix in his skin of brown.  He is a reader of people.

We talk about families and marriage and my heart skips a beat because I have considered marriage to this man.  But even though I feel I am somewhat progressive in my thinking, in my living, I am old-fashioned in the asking.  I will not ask him.  Asking is not mine to do.

I am surprised at the campfire.  He tells me I would not be accepted by his family because of my white skin and my white ways.  He tells me his mother would eat me alive.  I smile.  It is not a smile leading to laughter, but a smile of humble.  Of rue.  How entitled of me; I had never considered my acceptance to his family; I had only anticipated the reactions of mine.

Heavenly Father, you have helped me to see through different eyes and I understand.  Help me to bridge the gap between understanding and doing, between recognizing and welcoming.  Help me to help.  Continue to pull veils from my eyes so that I can see your Kingdom. 

Linking with Unforced Rhythms, Monday's Musings,  Inspire Me Monday, Unite


Friday, September 5, 2014

Reunion

This is 5-Minute Friday, where a bunch of writers take a one-word prompt and write about it for five minutes.  No editing, no polishing.  Just one word and go.  Today's prompt is Whisper.


Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

The sun shone brightly on a warm Texas day.  A crowd was already gathered and I forgot about my camera in the looking.

There were young mothers, with waddling toddlers and babies in strollers.  Little hands clinging to the hems of mom's t-shirts or clutching stuffed animals close, some carrying sippy cups, some carrying flags.  I marveled at the tattoos - decorative, beautiful, graphic - on ankles and calves, on shoulders, across backs.  I marveled at the choice of permanent art on youthful skin, and wondered how these choices would look in ten years, in twenty.  Would they fade?  Would they fold in and out as the skin grew old and wrinkles?   Would they look like a dusty old canvas, or would they age elegantly like a fine wine?  I marveled.

There were grandparents, silver-haired and purposefully slow - protecting knees and hips from the slight unevenness of the grassy lawn.  Red, white and blue dominated the colors in the crowd - a show of patriotism, a show of support for the troops to come.

There were soldiers, in digital-camouflage, attentive eyes and courteous smiles.  They held the background and blended - peacekeepers and crowd shepherds.  Standing by the cordon ropes, positioned at the grandstand seating, directing, pointing, answering with 'Yes, M'am' and 'No, Sir'.  A polite and official presence in the waiting.

We were waiting for the white busses.  The transportation that would bring our soldiers home from a long year in a far off place.  Finally.

The crowd roared and clapped when the busses came.  My daughter waved her flag and then she burst into tears.  The waiting.  The soldiers disembarked for their final formation.  Flags raised, marching forward, only the faces individual in the wall of green.  The crowd hushed to a whisper waiting.  Waiting for the words they had come to hear.  Waiting for the real touch, the real voice, the soldier in the flesh.  Reunion.

And the words finally came - "...Dismissed.  Families, find your soldier...."

Linking with 5-Minute Friday

Just a note - this post is based on my husband's homecoming from his second deployment.  Beth, I was thinking about you and your soon-to-be reunion with your deployed husband, as well as other military families who live through the separation of their loved ones in this life they've chosen.  I chose to include the first verse of Psalm 91 because it was my daily prayer for my husband's safety.  It is a good prayer.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What Is Home?


Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.
John 14: 1-4

I sit in the office, brain trying to wrap itself around what to write, and I allow a slow-moving, slow-rolling wave of past experiences wind its way through my mind's screen.  Images of childhood, first days of school, climbing trees, swimming.  Images of high school, images colored in instagram sepia because the memories seem to come from a place long ago and far away.

I sit in the office and look around at the misplaced, the off-the-walls, the stacked, signs of work that's going on in this house.  Work going on to make it ready to sell.  Sell it so that we can move.

Once again.  Where the army takes us.

We have a list of everything that needs to be done to the house.  For the house, because this work has been more of a labor of love and we have gotten to know this house intimately.  We want her to shine; we want her to feel attractive and generous, and fulfilled.  We want her to feel needed.

Did I say 'her'?

Yes, this house has become a member of the family.  And we've only been here a year.  Does that happen to you?  I walk her familiar rooms and run my hands along her walls and woodwork.  I know her scrapes and scratches.  I heal her wounds.

My husband speaks of her construction.  She has good bones.  He says.  She was well built.  He says.  I watch him sanding walls that have been bumped - sand and touch, sand and touch.  He talks to her as he works - cajoling, soothing, laughing.  He wants her at her best.  I watch him dress her up with crown - it is elegant and fitting.  I help him lay tile - rugged and wonderful, right next to the gloss of dark wood.  I am amazed at the transformation and I feel the house breathe solid and strong.  Contrast between rustic and sheen.  I watch my husband custom craft and fit so that the new blends perfectly with the old.  Nothing shouts I am here, look at me - the beauty is in the whole, not the parts.

I sit in the office and look around at the red ladder, and the stacked-and-ready-to-be-installed door handles, and the door frame that is only half-painted.  This too shall pass.  Soon, she will be at her company best - all dressed up - eager to please.  And we will sell her so that we can move.

Once again.  Where the army takes us.

My sister once asked me about our many moves.  She said it was overwhelming to her - to think about setting up a new house in a new place - on a regular basis.  She said it would be hard to make all those new places into a home.  And she was right.  A house is only a house (even if I do insist on calling it a 'her').  It is only a place.  A building.  Home is the living that goes on inside the house.

Home is family, and love, fighting and making up.  It is shared decisions and planning.  It is working together on the house in order to sell it.  It is my daughter who hears "Neighbor Day" instead of Labor Day and insists that we go talk to the neighbors.  It is thanksgiving.  It is sweet dreams and security.

A little over two thousand years ago, Jesus left a home he loved to light our way in the darkness, to redeem us, to show us the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He is preparing a new home for us - one that He bought to give to us.  And He bought it at a steep price.  It won't need to be spiffed up and polished; it is already perfect.

Our home will forever be with Him, wherever that takes us.

Linking with:  Three-Word Wednesday, #TellHisStory

Friday, August 29, 2014

Reach

Once again, it's time to join the community of 5-Minute Friday writers.  Take a single-word prompt, set the timer for five minutes and write.  Doesn't leave much time for editing or polishing; and the results can be a little rough.  But it's always interesting to see what pops out in those five, short minutes.  Pics and scripture are definitely outside of time...  The prompt this week is REACH -



He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
Micah 5:4

Reach.

Reach out.
Reach toward.
Reach across.
Reach a goal.

I can't reach.
It won't reach.
Look at that reach!

When do you plan to reach?
What made you reach?
When is reaching not enough?

Reach deep.
Reach in.
Reach for.
Just a little reach.

Reach a decision.
Reach a verdict.
Reach an impasse.

Reach for a hand.
Reach for help.
Reach the edge.
Reach the border.

Reach your family.

Beyond your reach.
Beyond our reach.
Beyond their reach.

In the far reaches.
Never beyond His reach.

Reach.

Linking with 5-Minute Friday

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Warp and Weft


You are the light of the world. 
A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. 
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 
Matthew 5:14-15

I want my rose-colored, Pollyanna glasses to take away the pain.  I want to turn up the volume of praise music so I won't hear the heartache, or change the channel to entertain, or read a book and escape.   I want to move away from the crime, and the crowded, and the prejudice and live in an old-town community of barn-raising and pot-lucks and quilting bees.  But I can't seem to get away from this world.

Perhaps because this world is in me.  It is part of me.  It helps define me just as much as I define it.  Sometimes the differences overwhelm the similarities.  Sometimes the hurt outweighs the hope, and love is lost in a labyrinth of discontent.  Sometimes I feel like I'm at the bottom of a half-empty glass and can't find my way to half-full.  Sometimes we're on that forever treadmill, running and running away and discovering we haven't moved at all.

I can't run away from who I am, and neither can you.

Maybe it's not a question of running from, but a determination to run toward.

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? 
May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? 
Without all doubt, we may. 
Herein all the children of God may unite, 
notwithstanding these smaller differences.” 
― John Wesley

They say there needs to be a separation of church and state, and so prayer and mention of God has been taken out of our schools.  

They say there needs to be a separation of church and state, and so prayer and mention of God has been taken out of our military and our law enforcement.

They say there needs to be a separation of church and state, and so prayer and mention of God has been taken away from our legislators and our court systems.

But we are children of God; we believe in Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life and following him has changed us.  You, who are starting school, who have to follow rules and regulations about what to say and when to say it - it's ok.  You will speak volumes through your actions, because Christ is in you.  Remember him.  

You who patrol the every-day streets, who safeguard our freedoms at home and on foreign soil, you who are trained in battle and war-weary, you who work within a roiling soup of disrespect and discontent, who dedicate yourselves to serve and protect, you who have to make life-and-death decisions in split-second time on snapshots of information - You, too, are a child of God.  Christ is in you.  Remember him.  Pray.  Nothing can separate you from the love of God, and his love will guide you.  You will speak volumes through your actions.

You who sit in judgment - officially and unofficially.  You who write laws and guidelines and handbooks and directions.  You are a child of God.  He is with you when you ask.  You don't need to pray out loud.  You don't need to call attention to yourself.  You may carefully choose your words, but you have the gift of words and He will guide you. 

You are like a tapestry, intersecting threads across the loom of your life.  The warp threads, the foundation of the weaving, is Jesus.  He stabilizes you; He strengthens you; He is your constant.  The weft threads, woven in and around, the changing colors, the design - those are you.  They are your experiences, your beliefs, your knowledge, your emotions; they are the different sides of you.  Together, warp and weft,  you are strong and beautiful - a work of art.  A child of God.  

The warp cannot be separated from the tapestry.  You cannot be separated from your Savior.  And this world needs you to be strong and beautiful.  Different and unique.  A work of art.  A child of God.

Jesus said to love your enemies.  He said the world would not be fair.  He said treat others as you would like to be treated.  He said love God and love your neighbor.

This is our warp.  This is our foundation.  This is what we should be running toward.

Heavenly Father, 
In these days of Fergusons, and shooters at Army posts, and mountaintops in foreign places, 
in these days of separation of church and state, of violence and evil - 
help us to remember that we cannot be separated from you. 
Help us to embrace you in the stillness of listening and to find you in the heat of arguing.   
Help us, even in the hard stuff, the want-to-run-away-from stuff.  
Help us to glorify you through our words and our actions. 
Help us to do what Jesus taught us to do.

Heavenly Father, come.





Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Doing


Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8

We are catching up on Doctor Who episodes during meals.  I know - turn the television off and talk...  But that's exactly what we do.  We talk.  There is action; there are strong characters; there are choices to be made.  It is concrete enough for my daughter to talk about at her level, and it explores interesting concepts and situations - darkness and light, forgiveness and hope - so that my husband and I can carry on our favorite 'what if' conversations.  
"So, what if you knew you only had one day to live?"  He asks me.  "What would you do?"


I think about his question for a half a second - just enough time to fleetingly picture different times and places.  One day to live.  I try to imagine my favorite things.  Going to the beach, camping, sightseeing, spending an afternoon at the amusement park.

A little more background.  We are in the process of getting our house ready to put on the market - and it has involved days, weeks literally, of work. The kind of work where you fall into bed before the sun has gone down and drop to sleep despite the stiffness in your fingers and hands, despite the redness of your knees and the aches in your back and shoulders.  This is what tired feels like, and I admit, I'm not used to it, and I'm glad I don't regularly do this kind of labor.  But, my favorite army guy, my husband, took a week off to get the 'big stuff' done, and we've been laboring together where the weekend melted into those precious week days, and then, too soon, the weekend again and he must return to the his Army job.


But I keep coming back to the work.  In our last move, we acid-washed, painted and re-tiled a pool together.  We've built fences and done landscaping work - spreading tons of rock across planters and flower beds.  We've stained and hung cabinets; we've constructed countertops; we've laid entire houses of floors, ceramic tile, travertine, bamboo, laminate, and now slate.  Together.

I tell him this may sound very strange, but this working together thing, is what I would do if I had one day to live.  Funny, huh?  I would choose the tired, the aches, the pains, the practically falling asleep on my feet feeling.


"When you expect the world to end at any moment, you know there is no need to hurry. You take your time, you do your work well.”
Thomas Merton

Not so funny when I really think about it. We are working together toward a common goal, a common vision - which is concrete and seeable as we go - and therefore, fulfilling.  We fellowship - while our hands, feet and backs labor, our minds connect in conversation, planning, joking, laughing.   We work through issues and make decisions together, partners in the project.  We are mutually tired and mutually sore - so we even commiserate together.  See, it's not really the work I'm choosing; it's the time -
moments becoming days - shared.

God has chosen us for His day.  We are his creation - his work, his time.  I don't want to waste His day on rumor and gossip or fighting.  I don't want to waste it on one-ups-manship or keeping-up-with.  I don't want to waste his day in fear, or sadness, or despair.  I don't want to waste it on drama.

He chose us.  He created us.  Don't I want to live in thankfulness for that?  Don't I want to glorify my Maker?  I will do my work well.

There is joy in that.

Linking with Unite



Friday, August 22, 2014

There Will Be Change



Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Like a breath of mountain rain 
Like birdsong in the trees
Like the phases of the moon
And waves upon the sea

There will be change.

Like thunder's muffled booming
Like a softly sinking sun
Like prairie grasses swaying
And my daughter's morning hugs

There will be change. 

Like fresh-ground coffee brewing
Like someone lullabying
Like spreading rings of water
And a single eagle flying

There will be change

Like a seedling in good soil 
Like a wise and ready bride
Like the shining of a lantern
And the pruning of a vine

There will be change

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, 
the new creation has come: 
The old has gone, 
The new is here!  

There will be change

Linking with 5-Minute Friday

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Amazing God and Lessons a Day Late



Yesterday I wrote a poem about an acorn.  See, I like to take pictures of things that often go unnoticed - like green, unripe acorns held in the boughs of mighty oak trees.  Unnoticed because of size, because of the canopy of leaves, because of the camouflaging color.  This one stood out when I looked back with the advantage of my computer's full screen.  So I wrote a poem.

It really was about the acorn.  And about the acorn's future - from summer to fall.  And about the splendor of autumn colors.  And finally, about that summer acorn held closely in the branches of the oak.

But it was also a metaphor of time and purpose.  It is summer now; the acorn is forming and growing.  It will be fall when the acorn will drop to the ground below and seed - a new tree in the making.  But the acorn is in the now.

It was also a metaphor for our lives... We live protected and young.  Then we grow older and wiser.  We save up and then shower the world around us in gratitude for the blessings in our lives.  As youngsters, we look forward to the party, but we are still protected and young.

Then I wrote a story about a young girl who didn't know that she was someone else's mission.  It was about a young girl who wanted to help others in need, not knowing that she, indeed, was one that others thought in need.  It was a true story, one I don't have an answer for.  Is it wrong to BE the mission when you want to DO the mission?

My daughter and I have come up against this issue at our church.  My daughter has Down Syndrome and the church hosts a Friendship Group class for differently-abled adults in the community.  It is an appropriate class.  However, when the class chose to help out on Mission Sunday, they surprised many of the members.  The members didn't know what to do with this group of adults  - because they perceived my daughter's class as a 'mission'.

What's the relationship between the acorn and the story?

Who is the unnoticed, camouflaged and small? Who is protected and young, perhaps ignoring their purpose?  Who needs to live in their own skin, in their own time - appreciating the now and letting the future take care of itself?

So, here's the God moment.  I had no idea if there was a relationship between the two as I wrote yesterday.  But I trusted that God did.  Why else would they both be on my heart?  Is it possible, that the message is we can be more than one thing at the same time?  Can we be both the present AND the promise of the future?  Can we be both the mission AND the missioner?  Can we be both the seed AND the tree - the child AND the adult?  Look at the passage that I included - I am just now seeing the connection...

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

We are God's handiwork - Created in Christ Jesus - Prepared in Advance

Amazing God!

Linking With: Unite, Thriving Thursdays

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We Are God's


For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

The promise of Fall
Concealed tenderly inside  
A summer acorn

Young, not yet hardened
Perfectly formed masterpiece
Like a nestled star

Autumn is coming

I think the leaves are
Banking the sun-colored hues
For a last hurrah

Shades of red and gold
Sultry-warm, a feast of light
In the foliage

Autumn is coming

But now an acorn
Summered protectively green
Perfectly seasoned


Once upon a time, a young girl lived with her family.  Moving with the seasons, finding work where they could, the family did not have a place they could call their own.  They were migrant.  And they were poor.  

But the young girl didn't know this.  She smiled and laughed with her fellow workers, with her sisters and brothers in the field.  She went to school when she could, and she went to church on Sundays.  She liked her simple life.

One day, she saw a notice posted in the work shed.  

Donate your clothes to the poor. 

Oh!  She thought to herself, how selfish of me.  She berated herself for never having given the poor a second thought.  She felt so rich in her own life that she had not noticed there were some without.  

She convinced her sisters to help her collect clothes to donate.  They sifted through their own belongings.  Only the best, she thought, because a gift isn't a gift if it isn't already loved.  She and her sisters left their bag of clothes outside of the work shed, under the posted sign.  

And they continued to work.  To sing.  To laugh.  They lived in fellowship.

On Christmas morning, an anonymous delivery was made to the young girl's family.  It was a bag of clothes.

Oh!  She thought, as she and her sisters opened the bag that they, themselves, had gathered and donated.  Oh! We are the poor...

Heavenly Father, help us to see what needs to be seen, to hear what needs to be heard.  Help us to be sensitive to those we are trying to help.  Father, infuse us with wisdom for today and for tomorrow, for this season and the next.  We are your handiwork.   



Friday, August 15, 2014

Show and Tell

So this is 5-Minute Friday and I cheated.  This definitely took longer than five minutes because, with me, stories always do.  But I did want to finish - the end is too cool for waiting...  So I hope my fellow FMF bloggers will forgive me - The prompt this week is "Tell".  Thank you to Kate for continuing the FMF link.  It really is too much fun.


In a loud voice they were saying:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Revelation 5:12 (NIV)

Curio was excited.  Today was Show and Tell and her name had been chosen to be first.  But what?  What could she bring to her class of little angels?  She was flummoxed.  Velvety wings quivering, mouth drawn up and puckered in thought, she searched through her closet. No, no, and no - she would not bring the slightly bent halo from her cherub years.  She would not bring the silly pink tutu she had insisted on two birthdays ago.  She would not bring the cuddle-bug lamb, her slightly frayed, squeezed-lumpy, night-snuggle friend.

She wanted to impress her teacher, with the kindness eyes and the joy smile.  She wanted to hear him say How marvelous; How wonderful; How amazing.  She wanted him to tell a story about her object, like when her friend Patience brought the mustard seed, and when Primus brought the apple.  But what?

All through dinner, all through her toss-and-turn sleepless night, all through breakfast - she couldn't think of anything to bring.  Anything good enough, anything meaningful enough, anything strong enough or new enough, or shiny enough.  Nothing.

And finally it was too late to bring anything at all.  Her wings fluttered slowly, dragging in the ether; she barely made it to her seat before the Teacher entered.

He looked like a man.  Just a man.  Her friend Rumor told of his life in the long ago and far away.  Rumor said he was born low in a manger where cows and donkeys ate.  Rumor said he was the son of a carpenter.  But Curio knew he was more than what he seemed.

His hands were pierced, scars healed.  He had scars at his hairline, torn and ragged from the crown Rumor spoke of.  The crown of thorns placed on his head at his trial.  The trial that convicted him to death.  Convicted him for saying he was more than a man.

She saw the slight stoop in his shoulders where he had borne indescribable weight - the weight of sin.  Curio shuddered at the thought of the world's sin on the shoulders of a man, hanging on a tree, sliced and bruised.  She remembered the day - she thought the universe would end when he died.  She had seen the veil torn - between heaven and earth, she had seen the line between the darkness and the light. In that line, in that space, was her teacher.

And the Creator turned his face away.  For an instant, for a split of a split of time.

Curio stuffed a fist in her mouth to stifle her gasp.  Her stomach clenched, her throat closed up, her face grew hot; her eyes filled.  She felt, for an instant, for a split of a split of time, depths of pain and loss like a bottomless ocean.   Like a star-less sky.  Like a never-ending fog.  Like a speck of dust in rolling desert dunes.

She looked at her teacher.  His kindness.  His compassion.  His good-ness.   Just as plain to see as the robes swirling about his legs and torso.  He stood by her bench and gently plucked a tear from her reddened cheek.

This is Curio's Show and Tell.  How wonderful!  How marvelous!  How amazing!

He raised it high for all the class to see.  A single tear, sparkling and precious, held between his finger and thumb.

Curio saw, then, what he saw.  What the class saw.  In the impossibly tiny, tiny space of that single tear was her Creator, Master of the Universe, Lord of the Angel Armies.  And then Curio heard the music, the music she loved from the throne room of her King:  Worthy is the Lamb...


She smiled because she understood.  God, her great God, was capable of anything.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It is God



But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. 
I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.
Jeremiah 17:10 (Message)

We are standing together, shoulder to shoulder with friends and strangers.  The lights are low.  I see people in silhouette, arms raised to the ceiling, faces upturned.  Like black cutouts against a luminous stage, I see their bodies sway in time to the music.  The music is what we came for, my daughter and I.  Just the girls.  A Christian concert at a local church.  Some friends invited us.

My daughter.  I glance sideways to see how she’s doing, to see how she is navigating this sea of emotion, to see if her head is above the spiritual waters.  This image is frozen like a snapshot on my brain.  Eyes closed, face tilted in the dark slightly raised hands in front, palms up to receive.  I think about her.  This daughter.  This blessing.  I wonder if she understands that this is worship.  This is praise.  I wonder if she is copying the hands of others.  She is, after all, a concrete girl and this… this is an ocean of abstract.

“Sierra,” I bend down and whisper, “what are you doing with your hands?”

She opens her eyes and I think I can see straight into her soul.  I don’t remember these depths, these layers.  I think I don’t know this girl.  I see complication, and understanding, and compassion.  I see abstract.  I see clear eyes full of wisdom.  I see an old soul in my daughter with Down Syndrome.

“It is God, Mommy,” and she raises her hands higher for me to see.

Oh God of the Universe, Help us to open our hands and our hearts to receive you.
Help us to be your hands in this broken world.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Before the Day Begins



So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
Genesis 2:21-22  (NIV)

I can feel him breathing next to me, in the dark and comfort of the bed he made from redwood rails and wrought-iron trellises.  It is not the deep-sleep breath of slumber, and I know that he, like me, is already awake.  It is early and the day is ready to hold us in arms of hustle and bustle.  It is early and I push my back deeper into the mattress trying to capture some few last moments of rest.  I can feel him breathing next to me, and I know that he knows.  We are awake.  Again.  Before the alarm.

Too soon we will hear the rooster crow.  Too soon we will throw off the dreams and sighs of the night and face forward to a new day.  Too soon we will fill our cups with steaming coffee, fragrant coffee.  His will be black; I take mine with cream, thank you.  Too soon he will put the uniform on, the zippered, velcroed uniform with his name and the flag and the pins and the badges.  Too soon he will be official again, and will walk with the measured step and straight back.  Too soon I will feel his goodbye kiss on my lips.  Fleeting warmth, already a memory.

I can feel him breathing next to me.  I reach over and press my body into his.  Hip to hip, knee to knee, spooning; I store up the feel of him next to me like a miser.  I know that he is awake; we melt into each other in the early before dawn.  Before the alarm.  Before the day begins.

Linking with 5-Minute Friday

It's only five minutes with a prompt.  What you start with is what you get because there's no time to change your mind.  Lisa Jo Baker has been hosting this link-up for a lot longer than I've been blogging.  This week she is passing the baton to Kate Motaung.  The prompt is "Begin".

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Wild Flower



What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. 
Isaiah 58:7  (Message)

He rode his bike to school everyday.  She noticed that he sometimes arrived early, before students were allowed into the building, before there was anyone to supervise.  At least twice a week he forgot his lunch.  The days grew shorter and shadows lengthened: air crackled with brittle cold and icy frost lined the edges of moisture on browned leaves and fallen pine needles.  

He rode his bike to school everyday, his thin coat worn and smudged with use.  Sometimes he fell asleep in class, lanky hair hiding eyes on a face that might have seen a washcloth that week.  This wasn't a serve-breakfast school.  She told him he was welcome to come into her classroom on those early mornings.  So he wouldn't have to wait outside.  

I always eat a morning snack, she said.  Would you like a slice of apple? She asked.  And she cut, and shared.  And brought more, because he always ate whatever she had.  Bananas, apples, oranges.  Then granola bars, crackers and cheese, even yogurts with plastic spoons.

He was living in a motel - a weekly-rate motel across the railroad tracks.  Across the highway.  Barely within district.  Everyday, doing homework at the table in the room he shared with his mother, and brother, and two sisters.  Until they could find a better place.  

He rode his bike to school everyday, backpack pinned together with two safety pins, homework hopelessly creased and wrinkled, barely readable through the scribbled crayon and coffee rings.  It smelled of stale cigarettes.  One time she saw a bug escape, antennae sniffing the classroom air when he slapped the backpack on the desk to pull his work out.  Work and bugs from that temporary home.  She kept her face still because his eyes were on her.  He knew she knew.

He rode his bike to school everyday.  Two weeks before Christmas, there had been a delivery made to his home.  Christmas angels.  He had a new backpack.   He had a new coat, and mittens, and a hat to keep his head warm.  He sported new shoes.  Do you believe in Santa Claus?  He asked, showing her, his teacher, during their breakfast snack before school.  Yes, she said.  Absolutely yes.

He helped her in the classroom on those early mornings.  Unstacking chairs, rearranging desks, taking down bulletin boards and pulling out staples.  They didn't talk much.  Sometimes about his family.  Sometimes about hers.  She saw his hopeful smile, his little-boy smile, his big-brother smile.  It bloomed on his face like a wild flower along the summer highway.  Beautiful.  Unexpected. Out of place, but oh-so-bright-and-it-filled-her-heart-with-joy, in the white of winter and the dark before school.  He never showed that smile during class and she felt privileged that he shared it with her. 

And then he wasn't there.  His family had moved.  Out of district.  She discovered.  Out of state.  An opportunity at a real life.  

Dear God, she prayed, thank you.  Keep them safe.  Keep them healthy.  Hold them in your hand. 

Poverty is real in this country. Free and reduced lunches and breakfasts help, but are not always enough to fill in the gaps for students in poverty. Thankfully, church-led, community-sponsored, and within-faculty programs have been put into place to help in situations where families just can't seem to find a way. Back-pack programs help with weekend food. There are used-coat drives, and school supply giveaways. There are many opportunities to be a Christmas angel to children and to families.

Having been in public-school education for the past 17 years, I have seen teachers buy out-of-pocket for their students in need. Without fanfare and without publicity. These students are often mobile, moving from school to school, district to district, and state to state - families in search of a better life, or running from the one they have. The teachers don't do it for thank-you. They don't do it for a pat on the back. They don't do it for recognition. They do it because they care. Because it's the right thing to do. Because it makes a difference.

Linking with:  TellHisStory, Three Word Wednesday, Unforced Rhythms

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Schedule


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 
gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23

"I love you more," she says as she walks by with the sound of flip-flip-flopping from orange-jewel-sparkle sandals.  My daughter rarely ventures into the office these days - these summer days of headphones and HGTV, of books on her lap, and ipad FB messaging.  Her favorite place is the end of the sofa.  The end with the table, with the lamp, with the space to spread out.  Her nerf-dart gun.  Her flashlight.  Her phone.  Her papers.  Her space.  I think it might be the 21st-chromosome-Down-Syndrome-doubling that gives her this hyper organization.



Sometimes I sit in her seat; I tease her.  I want to see what she'll do; I want to hear what she'll say.

"That's my spot," she stands in front of me, hands on hips, chin jutting forward.  The words hang for a moment before they are shattered by an eruption of giggles.  Her posture changes; her expression changes.  Her eyes widen, as if she's surprised by the laughter - her own laughter.

"It's Sheldon," she says - in reference to a character on a popular TV show.  She has just quoted one of his lines.  Like she has to explain the context of her remark to me.  



"I love you double more,"  I call after her, smiling to myself because I am behind in my plans for the day and she loves me this time because I just finished printing off her schedule for her.  

She has been reminding me all morning.  Right after she delivered her morning hug.  "Mom, my schedule...."  During her morning coffee, "It is Monday, my schedule..."  While eating breakfast, "My schedule yet..."  Her hands in the air emphasizing - palms up in the I-don't-know position - like she wants to say so much more.  Shaking her head at me, voice accusing.  "I need it, my schedule."

The fact is, I AM running behind.  Wake up with husband - check.  Coffee with Sierra - check.  Exercise - check.  Help Sierra in the shower - check.  Shower myself - check.  Get breakfast, let dog out, get dog's breakfast, empty dishwasher, put breakfast dishes in, go back upstairs - brush teeth, wash face, fix wet hair, call mom, wash Sierra's face, fix her hair - check, check, check, check, check, check, check.  I haven't written my post yet.  I haven't checked the paint in the garage.  I haven't put a load of laundry in the washer.  I haven't checked my job status, or my emails, or .... 

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

It only needs one appointment - one change - and then I can print it.  My daughter's schedule.  Then she will be able to relax into her day.  Into her week.  She'll look at her watch, placed just so on the arm of the sofa, and she'll check the boxes off as she completes them.  She'll keep the schedule on the coffee table with a pencil - checking off boxes all week.  At the end of the day on Friday, after she checks that she made the coffee for Saturday and set the table for dinner...the last two items for the week...she will throw the schedule away.  Completed, purpose fulfilled.  She'll need another on Monday.

Context.  The I love you more statement?  Yes, she can finally pick it up from the printer.  But it's more than a simple thank you, it's also an I-know-I've-been-bugging-you-and-I-want-to-be-sure-we're-still-ok. 

Context.  The smile behind the I love you double more?  First - I'm always working on communication skills with my daughter.  According to the Down Syndrome experts, her speech falls far behind her thinking.  We are always working on ways to bring her thinking to us - to the people around us - to the world in general.  She's 23, and hasn't stopped progressing, hasn't stopped trying, surprises my husband and me on a daily basis.  So, we've gone through I love you to the moon and back, I love you to the ends of the universe, I love you most, I love you....times a million, I love you bunches of flowers... I'm proud of the way she's using a variety of these formulaic phrases.  Extend, extend, extend. Second - it strikes me as humorous that I'm giving my daughter a schedule when it is obviously me who needs one.

How often does it happen that the thing we provide to others is the thing we need the most?  I plan and provide a schedule for my daughter to keep her on track and to help her a navigate a world of independence within the big, broad world of anything goes.

Context.  So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.  Galatians 5:16-17 (NIV)

Guess what - we ALL need something to keep us on track and help us navigate a world of independence within the big, broad world of anything goes.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit.  Thank you for guiding and directing us in our busy lives.  Help us to hear.  Help us to listen.  



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Comfort


Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,
saith your God.
Isaiah 40:1 (KJV)

Sometimes I have to read in King James.  The forms of speech hold more information for me.  This is imperative - YOU need to comfort my people.  You meaning us.  We need to provide comfort.  And the tense isn't past, it isn't present.  It's future.

The future is now.
Comfort each other.
It's part of God's will.

Blessings on your weekend.

Linking with Still Saturday

Friday, July 25, 2014

Just Beginning


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17  (NIV)

Reflected in the mirror, those worldly-blue eyes,
Exquisitely lined, eyelashes thickened,
China-blue like a porcelain doll,
"It finishes the look,"
She said, applying the touch of pink, just so, 
To lips already as perfect as a freshly picked peach.

A painted dress-to-impress mask for all the world to see.

I tried it.
the lipstick and the gloss
And just couldn't master the skill
Of leaving bits of pink on straws
And glasses
And napkins
And boyfriends.

Apparently I wasn't finished enough.
Or pretty enough
Or dressed enough
Or polished enough
Or skinny enough
Or smart enough
Or easy enough.

Or perfect enough for all the world to see.

Years.
It took years for me to realize
That I would never be enough
By myself.
That I thought finished meant success
Meant perfection and polish
An end to the journey
But it doesn't.

"It is finished," He said from the cross.

But it wasn't.
It was just beginning
He gave up his spirit 
For us
Because no matter who we are
No matter where we've been
No matter what we've done
We are enough for him.

He finishes us.


Linking today with 5-Minute Friday


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That Fine Line


"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, 
and I will listen to you."
Jeremiah 29: 11-12  (NIV)

He stands in front of the dresser, feet planted solidly on the carpeted floor, a contrast of soft and tender, baby and boy, daring her with his eyes.

"Do you need help?"

The sturdy legs are clad in khaki pants, elastic band loose on his tiny frame, his tiny, fiercely independent frame.  He has them pulled just up to the little nub of his bellybutton.  She knows that precious in-and-out fold of flesh, that once-connection between them.

Not even three years.  It hasn't even been three years since she gently cleaned and dressed the little birth-wound, as she had his brothers before him.  Memories of ivory soap and baby lotion.  Yet here he was, dressing himself.  Pants on completely backwards.  One arm in the neck, one arm in the sleeve, the shirt twisted across his shoulder and under his chest.

"Not yet."

She smiles at the little-boy-voice saying those I-can-do-it-myself words.  It's that fine-line time - the time when independence stands toe to toe with need.  When helpless spars with able.  When babyhood lets go and boyhood begins.  She's seen it before, has worked her way through it with the two older brothers.  Is still working her way through with the older brothers.  And now this one.

Still smiling, she walks into the room, busying herself with this or that - folding and fluffing, picking up, putting down.  Busying herself with little things so she will be available when the not yet turns to Mommy, please.  Because she knows it will.  But not yet.  He's right; he needs to try, to learn, to grow.  So she makes herself available to help when he's ready.

A friend of mine shares little snippets of life with her four boys.  Precious life with her boys and her Army-chaplain husband.  She understands the balance between doing for and letting do, between what-will-people-think and how-will-my-child-feel, between teaching independence and learning entitlement. The end of this story?  I helped with his shirt but the neckhole is huge now and he is still wearing his pants backwards.

Can you picture God?  Our heavenly Father, a parent?  He sees us, tangled up and inside out.

He says "Do you need help?"

And sometimes we plant our feet on the floor and just want to do it ourselves.

"Not yet."

But our God, our amazing, wonderful God... he knows us.  He smiles.  He walks around our lives folding and fluffing, picking up and putting down.  He waits.  Patiently.  For us to grow.  For us to learn.

For us to ask.

Do you see him managing that fine line between doing for us and allowing us to learn to do on our own?

Sometimes he has to let us fail.  Sometimes we don't get exactly what we want.  Sometimes we get stuck.

Sometimes we just have to walk around with our pants on backwards.

Heavenly Father, in every sense of the word, 
Thank you for loving us so much that you don't always make our lives easy; 
you don't always clean up our messes.  You make us do it.  
And with your help, your strength, your wisdom, and your son, we are able.


Linking with Three Word Wednesday, and TellHisStory

Note:  My daughter and I had the joy and privilege of getting to know the family in this story when we hosted a small bible-study group at our home while my husband was deployed.  At the time, 'Mom' had two boys and was expecting the one in the picture.  The army moved them shortly after he was born, and then 'Dad' was deployed shortly after the move.  We keep in touch through Facebook.  This morning I am thinking about this family - now four boys - separated yet held together.  It is another kind of line, that separation.  

Would you join me in praying for them and others like them - praying that the family grows together across the distance of miles and circumstance, that they are surrounded and supported by the love and kindness of friends, that they are safe - emotionally and physically, and that they remain spiritually strong and resilient in the face of trials.

Thank you.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Green


He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
Psalm 23: 2-3

My back conforms to the canvas chair - striped green and white like an awning - like garden-party favors - as I rock back and forth, catching the morning breeze.   I am still surprised by the green - I who spent years in the deserts of Arizona living with volcanic rock and cactus, painted-pebble yards and cinder block walls.  Even the name sounds dry and sere.

I am mesmerized by the color green.  Variety of hues indescribable, too many to catalog.  These shades are not labeled in jumbo crayon boxes, prismacolor pencils, acrylics and oils; they are subtle.  Startling.
Cool and refreshing.

It calms me, this green.  Makes me feel subtle and cool, like the slip of water over algae-coated rocks in a glassy stream.  Like the inexorable climb of ivy, reaching, clinging, then anchoring.  Like unfolding leaves and shoots of new grass.  Like venerable tree trunks with north-facing velvet cloaks of moss.

It recharges me, this green.  Growing.  Reaching.  Ripening.  I look for it each spring, after winter.  Walking the yard, the neighborhood, camera in hand, lens narrowing my vision, focusing my eye.  The first green.  It is hope.  It is promise.  It is faith.  It is real.

Sitting on the balcony, mesmerized by green - and life goes on.  Not just growing things.  The shadow of a hawk sweeps across the lawn below, fleeting and bold.  Red, red cardinals streak through the canopy of leaves, and stop to pose against evergreen-deep limbs of feathery needles, sharp and soft.  Contrast.

Life goes on.  Sitting on the balcony, rocking, my mother tells me about her plans for the day.  She is one-thousand miles distant yet close as the words we share.  The lives we share.  Daily.  I remember the days when a phone call was anchored to the wall.  I remember writing letters and waiting.  I remember libraries and card catalogues.  But life goes on and I gladly use this technology that keeps me close to those I love.  Contrast.

Life goes on and my husband works.  Away and busy, purposeful.  Life goes on and airplanes careen from the sky, rockets flare across desert cities, children ride busses to temporary homes, soldiers watch while families wait, secrets are told, newspapers sold, marriages made, and politics rage.

Life goes on and I am surrounded by green.  I rock back and forth, catching hope in the gentle air, breathing in promise of a new day, held in verdant, growing faith that all will be well.  It is real - life goes on.

Heavenly Father, 
Thank you for reprieve from today's headlines.  Thank you for green.  
Help me to keep your green pastures in my heart as life goes on.  
Help us to find your myriad hues and purpose.  
Help us to live in you.




Friday, July 18, 2014

Small and Full of Thanks



When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8: 3-4  (NIV)

Sometimes I just feel overwhelmingly small - just small.  One person in a world of people.  One world in a universe of worlds.  Small.  And I gasp at the wonder of this small - my infinitesimal life, because I know that God loves me.

He knows me.  He knows me and still he loves me.  He knows us all and still he loves.  He loves so much that he came to live with us - to be small with us.  He gave everything for us.  That is full-of-wonder wonderful.

And I am grateful.

Linking with Still Saturday, and Sunday Stillness


Bloom




...before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom...
Ecclesiastes 12:5  (NLT)

I don't ever remember either of my grandmothers without white hair.  Powdery, silvery, cloud-like and soft.  But that's who they were to me in the long ago and faraway of my childhood memories - old and wise, welcoming and sweet.

I have been watching my father's hair go from dark to light as the years pass.  I inherited his dark hair and diligently color the gray out every eights weeks.  I think when errant white becomes common and full, it will be time to accede to this almond tree in bloom.  But not yet.

What a graceful image of aging - before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom.  

This spring, my sisters and I were blessed to celebrate my parents' birthdays - 80 and 85, together.  Daddy was the only man invited.  Four generations.  We rented a vacation home on the outskirts of Nashville and spent a weekend of sharing and caring and loving on each other - a weekend of getting to know the toddlers and babies, to reconnect the scattered pieces of living across the country, to get some face to face and skin to skin.

Bloom.  I pray that we will always choose to see the graceful image - like the almond tree in blossom.  I hope that I will bloom as elegantly as my parents.  I pray that these families, my family, your family, will bloom where they're planted, sowing seeds of encouragement, caring, and love in the gardens of their lives and the lives of the people around them.  

I hope you bloom. 

Linking with 5-Minute Friday

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pure in Heart



Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God
Matthew 5:8  (NIV)

"Oops, I am messed up."

My daughter is telling me that she forgot to rinse her plate after lunch.  It's that am in there that gets me.  She inserts those little verbs to be in many of her statements.  Usually I find it charming.  Today.  Not so much.

I don't want her to think she's messed up.

Meet my daughter.  She is a 23-year old young woman with Down Syndrome.   She recently discovered the Down Syndrome part and insists on telling me at least once a day, if not more.  At first, I thought maybe she didn't really understand what she was saying - what having Down Syndrome meant.  But she kind of, sort of does.  I knew for sure because of an episode on Dancing With the Stars (DWTS) this past spring.

A little background.  There are three things you need to understand about my daughter.  One - my daughter loves reality TV.  She IS every contestant on every show: she chooses her team color on Survivor (before the merge, of course), she sits on the judges panel for American Idol, she renovates and designs for ALL the shows on HGTV - and points out all of the 'issues' in our house (I have chosen to be amused rather than alarmed).  Two - she ALWAYS picks the best-looking men on any show and calls them cutie pie.  And finally, three - she is an empathy master.  She feels the unspoken, the unacknowledged, the unheard.

So, we were watching a get-to-know-the contestant-better clip for James-the-cutie-pie on DWTS.  Somewhere in his celebrity life, he had received a video invite to the prom by a young woman with Down Syndrome named Hannah.  In the clip, he said he regretfully would not be able to accompany her because he was booked on that date.  So instead, he sent Hannah and her mom tickets to see him compete on the show.  I don't believe they ever mentioned Down Syndrome in the clip, but my daughter looked at me as we were watching and told me that Hannah had Down Syndrome.  Then she proceeded to name everyone else she knew or had ever known who had Down Syndrome.  And she had tears right along with mine - tears for the kindness and joy.

I love when things click with her.

So when she said she was messed up, I didn't want that phrase to click.  I wanted her to know she is amazing.  She is beautiful.  I wanted her to know how proud I am of her, and how much she is loved.  So I told her.  Simple as that.  And you know what she did?

She gave me that I-know-what-you-mean look, the old-woman-wise-face, and told me she is a young woman with Down Syndrome.  Like, of course you love me and are proud of me - how could you not?

I don't know why I was worried.



Heavenly Father, 
I know I thank you for my daughter all the time.  I just want to thank you again.  She is such a blessing.  You are an amazing God - how did you know I would need a teacher like her in my life?  At this time?  Thank you.

Linking with Unite, Unforced Rhythms, and Women Helping Women

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Across the River



          You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, 
declares the Sovereign LORD. 
 Ezekiel 34:31 (NIV)

A village lay alongside a wide, winding river.  It was an ancient village, and had seen many people come.  It had seen many people go.  Farmers, builders, artisans, speech-makers, and educators.  Growing and shrinking, growing and shrinking, the village adjusted to the winds of change and the sands of time.  It remained at peace and it prospered.

Across the wide, winding river was another village.  Also ancient.  A sister-village, similar in all respects except one.  This village was no longer at peace.  This village no longer prospered.  For whatever reason, for whatever vagary of fortune, this village had become a war zone of poverty and violence.


As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. 
 I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.
Ezekiel 34:12 (NIV)

The children were the first to suffer.  Bellies aching from hunger, souls sickened by fear, they stopped singing.  They stopped dancing.  They stopped feeling.  Helplessness led to hopelessness; the darkness of the village was a looming, endless thundercloud of sorrow and despair.

I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, 
and I will bring them into their own land. 
I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, 
in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.
Ezekiel 34:13 (NIV)

There were only two ways out of the village of tribulation; death was the easier. The harder way, the longer way, the nearly impossible way, was to cross the river. Cross the river to the promised land, the land of milk and honey. Freedom land.

They tried.  Wave upon wave of mothers and children tried.  They strapped on sandals, sandals of peace, and they walked, daring to hope for a better life, a better way.  They traded helpless for courage, and hopeless for faith, and they walked.

Yet the darkness followed.  Loss of life and innocence, like twin plagues, accompanied the hapless pilgrims on their journey.  Hunger was a constant companion.  But the travelers helped each other through the difficulties and the many who made it, gathered at the river's edge.  Cross the river to the promised land, the land of milk and honey.  Freedom land.  These were the thoughts that built the rafts; these were the images that fueled the boats.  Dreams of a better life.

I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts 
so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety.  
I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. 
I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. 
The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; 
the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the LORD, 
when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. 
They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. 
They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. 
I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, 
and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land 
or bear the scorn of the nations. 
Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them 
and that they, the Israelites, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. 
Ezekiel 34:25-30 (NIV)

Those who lived to finish the journey rejoiced. Welcomed by the sister-village on the other side, they began to heal. The children grew, they shared in song and dance, the valley through which they had come. And the village adjusted to the winds of change and the sands of time. It remained at peace and it prospered.





Heavenly Father, Creator of all things, 
Heal us so that we can grow in compassion and grace, so that we can look beyond ourselves and our politics and give help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless.  Help us to spread your love and your peace beyond our own small horizons.  Help us to look across the river.  

Today I'm linking with Jennifer, and Beth.


NOTE:  The current situation of the un-documented immigration of children across our southern border is overwhelming and heartbreaking.  I just couldn't finish this story using today's headlines.  I can't imagine that sending these children and families back to the violence and poverty of their home is the right thing to do.  I understand taxes and paying for those who cross our borders; I understand working hard for my money... but I keep coming back to Jesus, time after time, saying 'give'.  He didn't say 'give if you want to'; he didn't say 'give as long as it doesn't disrupt your life', he said "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."  To understand more about the situation, you can read here and here.  In her blog Lisa Notes, Lisa informs readers about a way to help (without the political...).