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Archive for March, 2017

 

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“It’s not always been this way”

I guess that sort of comment is commonplace for someone my age … and I kinda hate that.

I hate that I now have times when I am comparing the present to the past. I hate that when I do, I am often referring to the past as the good ol’ days.

But what was at the crux of my good ol’ days comment is that I was holding onto something too tightly.

I think we all do that, with different things, beliefs, people or experiences that we love. We love it/them so much, we make it of such value that we become unwilling to let it go. Our love for that thing becomes greater than our love for and trust in Christ.

The very first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3) tells us,

“You are to have no other gods besides me.”

For some it is their job, or their expectations, or their home, or even their religion ahead of Christ.

I have always felt that it is people who we most often put first. Our spouse our parents, but even more so, our children who get placed high above all else.

This recent good ol’ days comment made me realize that it was my own pride that prevented me from trusting in God to work out the situation. If I were to be honest, I would have to say part of my problem is I’m not always trusting that Jesus will do what needs to be done, without some cost to … me.

You see, my pride … it tends to be a bit of security blanket for me, and what would protect me if I gave it up to Him?

Ya, I know, HE will and does protect me. HE has a view of how this current situation will resolve, and HE is trustworthy.

The past, present and future are in his hands … imagine what he might have for me, for us, if we would be willing to hand over what we hold so tightly.

“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
1 Thessalonians 5:24

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Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 10.10.10 PMI simply couldn’t remember this feeling before.

My heart beating uncontrollably fast, my eyes unable to take in the words and contact them to meaning, a chill at my shoulders, my arms.

Never in my youth do I remember feeling anything but able, determined, fearless.

The task I was undertaking was not even one of great importance or significance. It was simply making a hotel reservation. Yet, I just didn’t feel confident in making the decision, and the more I searched, the faster my heart beat, the quicker my breathing became.

I don’t like this feeling. It is foreign to my nature, it is humbling … so humbling.

Then I came across the image (above) of the two children, dressed as angels. The one shoulders back, eyes looking beyond the doorway, knowing where she will go. The other shoulders down, eyes at the floor, fearing to even look at the possibilities beyond the doorposts.

The one, my confident self, the other, my self in that moment.

It seems as though the Psalmist had similar experiences (Psalm 55:4-7):

My insides are turned inside out;
    specters of death have me down.
I shake with fear,
    I shudder from head to foot.
“Who will give me wings,” I ask—
    “wings like a dove?”
Get me out of here on dove wings;
    I want some peace and quiet.”

It would seem as though, perhaps, this Psalmist understood well what it is to have his heart feel as though it might just beat outside of his chest.

Though he doesn’t finds any definitive cure for what ails him, he ends his prayer to God with confidence in the one who hears his voice,

“As for me, I will trust in you.”

That’s it, I will trust in you.

And that is it, then as it is now. The answers and the cures do not always come when we desire them, yet, in faith, we trust in God.

There is peace, even when our bodies, minds, souls and situations are the definition of upheaval, disease, heart-break and fear.

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Fearless of Monday

It is Sunday.

And tomorrow is Monday.

And some weeks there is excitement and joy and anticipation.

And other weeks there is dread and fear and anxiety.

And it is Sunday,

And tomorrow is Monday.

With whatever perspecive we are looking at today, at tomorrow, it’s coming. It’s coming and we will be in it, in just a matter of hours.

But there is not reason to worry.

Take a deep breath … now let it out. Your lungs opened up to fill with the the air you inhaled, and they emptied as you exhaled. Tomorrow, your chances of breathing are pretty good, and you’ve got years of experience. You have mastered breathing, you can handle this.

Now when you inhaled, was there a scent, an odor? If not peek your head outside, and do that inhaling once again. What do you smell? The undeniable, I definable smell of spring? Maybe the smell of mud, with the the frost of the earth melting away? Or the icy scent of a frigid day of winter in spring? Or the scent coming from your dryer vent? Whatever it is, acknowledge it, name it.

What can you hear? The sound of birds in your trees? Cars and trucks driving near your home? A distant (or not so distant) train? Water dripping somewhere? Sounds from a nearby television? The kids playing? The husband snoring? The coffee perking? Imagine not being able to hear it, any of it. Listen to what is available to hear.

Now what is within your reach? Your mug? The door of your home? Your pooch or feline? What does it feel like? Close your eyes, does it feel the same? different? Touch something, acknowledge its presence and your presence with it. Take note of the reality of the space you occupy alongside what you can touch. You are present.

Now, what do you see as you peer out your door? Remnants of snow on the ground? A bird searching for food? The sun pouring into your garden? The poo mounds all over the grass 🙄, from the pooch who acts life the best thing in the world has occurred when you come in the door? Whatever you see, look at it and thank God you can see it.

Finally, grab that warm mug, or that toast, or that bowl of fruit and ingest it. But really taste it … close your eyes if you must and acknowledge in your mind the qualities that you can name … sweet, bitter, salty, sour. Taste and see that food is more than just sustence, it is pleasure as well.

You and I can handle whatever this week throws at us.

“I will bless the Lord at all times;

    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

    let the humble hear and be glad.

Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me

    and delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant,

    and their faces shall never be ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him

    and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps

    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

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So yesterday was a first for me.

It was the first time a birthday number seemed … old.

It’s not like I’m fifty or more (hubby reference, snicker). It’s just that (gulp) fourth-eight sounds like the age of someone older that I feel.

But it’s more than just the numerical change, it’s also the sense that I’m not where I expected to be at this stage of life. In all areas from work, to family, to finances, to physical fitness, to spiritual growth I could easily look at my present realities and feel like I’m simply falling short, even failing in areas of life and living.

Then something about grass withering and flowers falling came to my mind.

I sought out the source of those words, and found them to be from 1 Peter 1. As I read verses 24-25a:

“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever”

But then I read the entire chapter (well worth the read), and was especially drawn to the section from verses 17-25:

“Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.”
1 Peter 1:17-25

So, who are we? And what does it have to do with what we expect of our lives?

We will wither, die. Our lives, though short, have the ability to have lasting impact, through spreading the seed of the living and enduring word of God, by loving each other, deeply, from the heart.

To do this is to really live, whether we are in our youth or at any time in our lives.

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Snowdrops

Spring has sprung, with the turning of day to day on the calendar. Though it is just the passing of time that heralds the new season in, the change of seasons on the calendar reminds us that things change, that there is always something new around the next corner.

Just yesterday, it was still winter … so said the calendar.

Over a hundred years ago, William Sharp wrote the poem, The Crystal Forest, and it so describes the most delightful winter that the Pacific Northwest has enjoyed (or endured):

The air is blue and keen and cold,
With snow the roads and fields are white
But here the forest’s clothed with light
And in a shining sheath enrolled.
Each branch, each twig, each blade of grass,
Seems clad miraculously with glass:
Above the ice-bound streamlet bends
Each frozen fern with crystal ends.”

And now, that winter has past. It was yesterday, spring is today.

I remembered that spring had come as I sat in a theatre of spring-seekers today.

“Winter turns to spring
Famine turns to feast
Nature points the way
Nothing left to say
Beauty and the Beast”

As love was declared, as the rose re-gained it’s fallen petals, as the shadows over the castle were cast away by the light, as the lungs of the ‘beast’ were filled with life-giving air, the song from the beloved story play.

Spring had come to the castle-topped mountain, and everything the light touched was transformed into something new.

Love came through Christ, and he fulfilled the work of his love in his Easter gift, casting away the shadows.

Spring is more than just a date on a calendar, it is change pointed the way through nature, and fulfilled by the Creator of the world.

“He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.”
Psalm 104:19

 

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Friday morning I experienced a minor mental breakdown, as I turned my back on the mess to grab a quick shower in preparation for a wedding later that day.

My kitchen and dining room floors were covered with various pieces of furniture, in various stages of refinishing.

My kitchen countertops littered with cans of paint, brushes, rollers, sandpaper and … dirt.

My fingernails painted with latex and my hair frosted with sand dust.

“I need the break part of Spring Break!” I muttered under my breath.

It was probably not wise to take on a furniture refinishing job over Spring Break, when my usual workshop (the garage) is too cool for painting and waxing. There is no escaping the work when it’s strewn all over ones kitchen.

Now, just two days later, I am sitting with a warm mug in my cozy chair. Though the sun is in hiding I can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The last of the furniture is primed, and by day’s end, the paint cans will go back onto their shelves in the garage. Maybe, just maybe I will even get the joy of washing up the floors and countertops before climbing into bed tonight!

Though the mess of refinishing furniture can drive me a bit batty, the process of creating (or re-creating, as is more accurate in my case) feeds my soul like little else. This process of taking dated, old and uninspiring furniture though the process of sanding, filling, priming, painting, waxing, etc., then seeing the final result. It is as though it is a new piece of furniture. It is as though it has been made new again.

Ah, yes, there is mess … but the result reminds me the blood, sweat and, yes, even tears are part of the re-birthing process.

Creating is a most beautiful labor of love.

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

 

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Freedom! 

It all started with a bunny on the road …

A few years ago,  as I was walking the beast, I almost experienced a shoulder dislocation when a bunny hopped out from under a hedge, giving the beastie the impression of fast food.

A number of weeks later, I drove down the same road and counted seven bunnies … they had certainly been reproducing like … rabbits.

Then there was the pasture of horses chowing down on the fresh, green spring grass and clover. One, wearing blinders, hopping around as if so do a dance to welcome spring.

My daughter showed me a video recently of cows being released to the pasture for the first time of the spring, and they ran and danced in such a way as to delight any who watched.

The animal shelters are filled to the brim with newborn kittens and puppies.

The ponds swimming with ducklings.

And soon the well-spun nests of miniscule spiders will empty of their tiny creepy crawlies.

Spring brings a feeling of freedom to all who are emerging out of the wombs, or emerging out from the tombs of the winter.

According to the free dictionary, freedom is “the condition of being free of restraints.”

When the Bible speaks of freedom, it is speaking of the life available, through the sacrifice of Christ, who emancipated (freed) us from the restraints (the laws) in order to be truly free, forever.

That is what the Easter season is all about. 

There is no real freedom without the sacrifice made by Christ, on the cross.

It was his emerging from the tomb that gave new life to us.

Spring is coming, and the reminder of the freedom birthed in us, through his laborious pains.

 

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