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Archive for April, 2015

I worked around my garden last evening, with the bright daylight stretching further with the hands of the clock. My holey, gloved hands covered in the dirt of the Earth, the trees, the shrubs that I touched. Tendrils of my hair, loosened from their elastic, to fall in the middle of my forehead. Muck from the hole that was dug, caked to the bottom of my shoes. Dirt across my pants, from when I ‘cleaned’ my gloved hands.

Dirt, dirt everywhere … enough to line the bottom of my bathtub, later that evening.

And. it. was. perfectly. glorious.

For I was not merely looking at the wonders of Creation, viewing just with my eyes, I was in the midst of the Creation, the wonder, the beauty. I was a part of it, and it was a part of me.

 If appreciating beauty was simply a visual experience, a picture would fill our cup. True appreciation of beauty requires inspection, not just of it’s outer appearance, but studying it fully and completely.

To see the ocean’s edge is lovely.

But, to walk, barefoot on the sand, feeling the cool of the water running over our feet, hearing the gulls above, the crashes of the tides, inhaling the fresh salty air … that is to experience divine beauty, from all around us.

To speed on a mountain bike over a quaint bridge with a brook running under it is adventure.

But, to stop that bike, and hear the symphony of the birds songs while hearing the beat of your own racing heart, and looking at the many shades of green all around, breathing in the most clean scent of fresh rain water falling from above … that is what it is to be united with beauty.

May we each have opportunity, this weekend, to become part of a glimmer of beauty, and to enjoy the refreshment and delight that can come from that.

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I love the definition for integration, in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary :

-“incorporation as equals into society or an organization of individuals of different groups” 

In the world I work, (that of working in a high school) primarily with students who have a special needs diagnosis, integration is most commonly associated with incorporation in classrooms, in study, in learning. That is an important part of integration into a school community.

But, in the world I (we) live, integration is most frequently sought, desired and dreamed of in terms of not the academic, but the social, the relational. Those, who live with delays, disorders, diagnosis, and syndromes desire to be incorporated, as equals, into the world around them … they want friends.

“what a person desires is unfailing love …”
Proverbs 19:22

In the past dozen years of working in middle and high schools I have had the privilege of seeing such integration, incorporation, take place. I have observed students who sincerely care for and about their peers, with or without a diagnosis. I have seen parents of kids with special needs, and without, make the effort to model and encourage respect, kindness and equality for those around them.

Certainly, I have observed bullying, ignorance and exclusion, as well. But, more often I have seen the beauty of human care for each other, human love for each other.

This caring, this loving, this including of each other, it is a messy thing to practice. It is messy whether special needs, illness, or disability are present or not.

Lets face it, equality is messy whenever humans are involved.

But, to truly and sincerely incorporate and integrate as equals … what an awesome thing.

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People often ask how I find the time to write. I guarantee you, I do not find it at all, I have to carve it into my day, much like we carve time to go to work, make dinner, and go to the gym (an area which could use some intentional carving, in my neck of the woods).

Another question I get asked it why do I write. Writing is a skill, and skills require practice, so I write to practice the skill … but that is not the only reason I carve time into my day to write.

Oh sure, it would be delight if my writing could earn an income, but that is not why I write.

It would be amazing if my writing would improve my grammar, and there is so much room for improvement in that area! But, that is not why I write.

It was just yesterday, as I sat at my computer, tapping out of the keys my thoughts on the birthday of my daughter, that my reason for writing was clear, once again.

Each significant event in the lives of my kids, I write about. I write on their birthdays, graduations, special trips, funny events, sad events.

My writing is what I leave for them, my legacy.

I will not have vast accumulations of wealth or possessions to hand down to my favorite creations. I will not leave a vastly changed world, or landscape. So, what I will leave for them will be my words … my love for them through the simple words, of a simple, struggling mom, wife, woman.

Realizing that one is living in the second half of the theatrical performance of life, makes one question what one will leave behind. Though it would be a delight to have an estate to leave to be divided, I write, to leave the sweet (and sometimes sour) tastes of life for my three to remember life, and how ardently they were loved.

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2015/01/img_1835.jpg

Happy birthday to our copper-headed baby girl …

I wrote those words on my status, then glanced, for a long time, at the picture of your two-year old self.

In an instant I saw your newborn self, pink like the magnolias in bloom outside our sunlight-filled hospital room.

I saw your chubby six month self, with more chins and rolls and dimples than any one mass of skin has ever held.

I saw your first steps, taken on your first birthday.

I saw your eyes of delight whenever your dad or big sister would come home from work or school.

I saw your eyes of amazement, as you’d sneak into the room your little brother was sleeping, to wonder at his tiny hands.

I saw your elfish preschool grin.

I saw your eyes of delight whenever you spied a living thing, from fish, to birds, to creatures with fur, to our gruff neighbor, whose heart you melted, again, and again, and again.

I saw you jumping on the trampoline, with friends, big as our six foot tenant, small as the slugs that you thought would like to jump.

I saw your eyes of delight when you entered your kindergarten class … so many people to befriend!

I saw your face, smiling at your neighbor friend, over chicken strips in my kitchen.

Then I saw your tears, as elementary school was done, and you did not want to leave that place of memories.

Then I saw your tears … adolescence can be such a tough time of navigating body, mind, soul, family and friendships.

Then I saw the times of giggling, events, firsts, friendships … friendships, never was age, gender, size, color or any other differentiator a barrier for you.

Then I saw your head turn, as a boy passed you by.

Then I saw you drive off in a vehicle, without an adult.

And now, you are eighteen.

time. goes. so. fast.

You are eighteen, no longer my little girl. In a few short months you will conclude your years of high school, graduating on to study that which is a passion in your heart.

But, when I look back at your life, my heart always returns to that seven-year old day … when I saw you dance, between the sunbeams of the giant trees, in your white lace crinoline from the dress-up box … twirling and spinning, with great abandon, dancing to your own music, your own tune.

From birth, you have danced to your own tune.

From your belief that sleep was not essential (for your first two years), to your embracing of friendships from anyone (no matter the difference), to your strong will, you have refused to be anything other than who you feel convicted to be. Though this has, at times, resulted in tears (and this will not change, in this life), I know that you will never have regrets for things you have not done.

My prayer for you, today,
is that your past may give you firm footing,
that today you will feel loved,
and that in your future
you wear the wings God gave to you,
always.

 

 

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If you live in the right areas of the world you have the opportunity to view the third ‘blood moon’ in the tetrad (four) series of lunar eclipses. The shadow of the Earth will cover the moon for just under five minutes. It is a rare and exciting event for sky watchers from NASA to those under my roof.

In the Christian calendar, today is the darkest day, but it is not because of an eclipse.

Today, Christians all over the world, participate in a memorial for the sacrificial death of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, the sinless son of God, paying with his body and soul, for the sins of a humanity, who could not ever dream of making atonement for ourselves.

Today, I bow my head in prayer, and thank God that my own redemption was worth the death of His Son.

Today, is a day of thanks for the gift, but also acknowledgment of how dark was that day of scourging, torture, crucifixion, and death.

It could be said that, for Jesus, it was a total eclipse of his heart, as the sin of all humanity separated Him from His heavenly Father … a pain far worse than any torture man had done. This is the Passion of Jesus, poured out, as a light in a dark, hopeless, fearful world.

2015/01/img_1911.jpgThe quote, above, describes what was done on that day, when what Satan intended for evil, destruction and darkness, God turned into hope, light and life.

In the following video (at about 1:17), we see how, even in our physical world, darkness cannot eliminate light, through the description of tomorrow’s lunar eclipse:

“Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain, looking up at the sky.

Overhead hangs Earth, night side down.

Completely hiding the sun behind it.

The eclipse is underway.

You might expect Earth, seen in this way, to be utterly dark.

But it’s not.

The rim of the planet looks to be on fire.

As you scan your eye across Earth’s circumference, you’re seeing every sunrise, and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once.

This incredible light beams into the heart of the Earth’s shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the moon into a great red orb, when viewed from Earth.”

http://youtu.be/_70M4lkLKPk

On this day, as we remember the darkness of our sin, may we also see how that dark day has illuminated the light from it’s shadow.

“There will be no more night.
They will not need the light of a lamp
or the light of the sun,
for the Lord God will give them light.”
Revelation 22:5

 

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Spring Break provided me with ample opportunities to be still.

For hours I worked in my garage … painting, sanding, waxing, sawing, nailing. Furniture was transformed, home repairs were made, and my soul was given room to breath.

Spending my time in such a quiet way gives me the opportunity to hear better.

I find having the time and space for quiet allow me to sing (and no other has to hear my horrid voice), to contemplate, to plan and dream, to weep, to smile, to pray.

Just this week, in our departmental prayer and devotion time, the person leading did so without her own words … yet my heart and soul heard so clearly.

As the lyrics to When I Survey the Wondrous Cross play, I heard them afresh, as though the weight of them, the weight of their story, lay firmly on my heart.

An archaic, yet still-relevant, hymn of the faith. Sir Isaac Watts is said to have penned it’s words about three hundred and eight years ago.

I glanced around the room, at the lovely people there … each of us with our own public or private sorrow, weighing on our hearts. Yet …

when we consider, when we survey,

that cross, that wondrous cross,

our own sorrows diminish, fade if only for the length of the song.

“When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain (deepest pain) I count but loss (no rugged cross)
and pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it Lord that I should boast (weep for myself)
Save in debt of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm ( me most
I sacrifice them to his blood

See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet?
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

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