Friday, August 29, 2014


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 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.


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


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".