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


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