Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Regardless of where you stand on personal debt or the current economic state, there are debts that we all have. One is a debt to each other, the “debt to continue to love one another.” Now, you may be familiar with the idea about loving your neighbor. But, to consider it a debt; this is going a step farther than many of us think or are perhaps prepared to think. And, not only a debt – but a continuing debt.
I know some people who would practically feel their skin crawl at this moment, claiming independence as their greatest strength. Yet, here we have a “continual debt” given to us. The task that we use to fulfill this debt is to love each other. Not an easy task that we have in front of us.
I understand that there will be at least 20 other women I have the pleasure of meeting and worshipping with in thirteen days. There will be a task before each of us, to love one another. A debt to love one another: being patient, kind, not jealous or proud, not boastful, not demanding our own way, but rejoicing with each other. Not giving up on each other, but always hoping and enduring.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I love onions, slightly caramelized and sweet from sautéing in an iron skillet. They go so great on home made pizza, chicken enchiladas, or foccacia bread. Wrapped in a delicate paper like skin, the layers each hold flavor and moisture.
People are a lot like onions, with many different layers. We have the outside layer, closest to the protective skin and that is what a casual glance would see. Those who know us better get to know further inside layers. Who really knows the entire us though?
Two weeks away, the Great Banquet is approaching. As I approach the day to leave, I’m thinking about the layers that God has been peeling away. Very carefully, so as not to injure me, one layer after another is examined. Then, the next and the next. Each brings something new, a new challenge, a new revelation. The thing to remember is that we are all rather onion like – we all have layers.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Tick tock, tick tock, it’s the key to Captain Hook and the Tell Tale Heart, the Grandfather Clock in the hall of a grandparent’s home, and time that keeps slipping ahead. Each moment is exactly as long as the one before, 60 moments ticked out on a metronome of seconds, minutes, hours, days, stretching out to centuries.
But, time is anything but a steady tick tock momentary minuet, which is static in its movement. Instead, it fluctuates, skipping and dancing about one moment, the next dragging it’s measured feet in an achingly slow cadence. This past week has gone in bursts of busy, where thirty minutes have seemed like five, an hour seems like ten minutes, and one minute seems like an hour.
In my life, I have also seen the times vary with speed. It’s been six weeks since this ankle was sprained, and the healing seems so slow, as if it were truly following a proverbial feeling of dragging its feet. It was the first week without the boot and probably not a great week for that to happen as it also corresponded to a workshop at work. In other words, that means a lot of walking for me. By Friday, I had smashed down the heel of my shoe and wearing it as a make-shift clog to relieve some of the pressure that I was feeling due to swelling, hoping that the next step wouldn’t feel like a needle in the ankle or fire in my knee. Okay – so we have established that it is uncomfortable, if not down right painful.
Six weeks, a moment in the span of things. I suppose it’s all about perspective. Perspective – my view point of what is going on, of what is happening, and then I process all that and make a choice of how to respond. So, six weeks – physical therapy is getting ready to start and hopefully will make a big and for the better type of change in my leg. In the meantime, I’ll be keeping up my perspective and attitude of being grateful for people around me who surprise me with doing really helpful things, not because they have to – but because they know it hurts and that they can help.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Grab the calendar, the red and green markers, and starting counting the days – Christmas times a comin’, Christmas times a comin’, Christmas times a comin’, It won’t be very long…..
Don’t roll your eyes and turn away quite yet – I promise I’m not skipping Thanksgiving or any other fall wonder. Fall is my favorite season. But, it’s only 86 days till!! Soon, the trees will be coming out, the decorations, the ornaments, and the nativities. It’s with the chocolate covered pretzels and Christmas music playing raucously in the background that the white lights are unwound from their box and rewound around the tree. The house starts smelling like cookies and cinnamon, pine tree candles, and vanilla. Sweetly sentimental memory laden figures come back, bringing memories of family members near and far.
But, long before all of that happens, the Christmas cards need to start. Yes – it is time for me to pull out the address book and the ink pens, and the bright colored cards. It takes time to write a note in a card, to think about someone for a few moments, to pause over a blank card and think about the recipient. Then, pen to paper, ink flowing and the words spill out. Words of hope, words of season joy that I really would like to keep in my heart all year long, words of family, and words of memory.
Yes, just 86 days till – it’s time to get the cards started, time to start planning ahead…. Oh well, maybe I’ll wait a few more weeks…..
Thursday, October 15, 2009
A neighbor on my street, a dozen or houses so down the pavement, has a brown plaid couch sitting on the grass – near the road, waiting for trash pick up. It’s wooden arms are shiny with the moistness of frost and the brown and yellow tinged plaid looks fine, but I’m sure if I stopped and sat down it would be squishy with the morning dampness.
Wondering as I drive past, if I were sitting on that couch what would I see? The last few days, I have been leaving the house early, and the kids gather at the bus stop to get to the high school. Sitting in that spot, I could hear them walking past, the banter and laughter, the trudge and sighs of another angst ridden homework filled teenage day, and the hop of the younger children as they head to the elementary school. Cars, vans, jeeps, trucks, and parents wander past with children and sometimes dog leashes in hand. Once school is in session, sounds would change. The quieter sounds would stroll through, leaves blowing down the street with their unique rattle, neighborhood sounds of doors and dogs, tools and wood being split for winter. School recess activities, and then picking all the kids up again at the end of the day.
If I could pick that couch up, shrink it, stick it in my pocket and move it someplace else, to watch – where would I go? Let’s see – I think first I would go and put the couch on a hill top in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I would watch the buffalo move across the plains and through the valleys. Perhaps an antelope would even come close and graze if I sat really still. Then, off to Ottawa – in front of the Chateau Laurier to watch the coming and goings. High tea would be enjoyed from my seat while listening to the pipes and drums playing in the Memorial Park across the street. Puppy class, here in town, watching the dogs go through their lessons and their people are trained. They are such funny creatures to watch as they learn, the pups are as well.
It would be rather interesting to be able to have a sort of magical view spot to stop and watch and see. But of course, the real fun doesn’t come sitting on the couch – it is from getting up and participating.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Last night I heard four women raise their voice in song, musicians lift instruments to their mouths and fill them with air or graze them with their hands and pure beauty come out. Sitting on the edge of my sweet, I could feel my body surrender to the rhythm, swaying in my stadium style seat, toe tapping the metal flooring, and hands clapping together. When these four women sang together, when the violinist joined them – there was something so incredible about the combination, sweet as honey and smooth as a spring rain.
I watched and thought about how these great talents required the musicians and women to step out at some point in their lives, to make a choice. If we knew we would not fail, what risks would we take? How many more entrepreneurs would their be, how many more explorers, how many more adventurers? You know the adventurer who writes a book, paints a picture, or sings a song.
If I would take an adventure, an expedition, a journey, or even a step and knew that it was both God’s will and could not fail – what would I do? Oh – the possibilities! And how inspiring these women were.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
An action filled word, to celebrate: based on celebrant, celebrare, and celebrationem, and generally carries the connotation of something joyful, honoring, talked about, and festivities. To celebrate in the moment, is to realize that the moment is fleeting and irreplaceable. It is also a mind set, not based on emotion, but a choice of how to respond.
I remember hearing someone once talk about eternity. Standing in a large room, he strung a piece of yarn from one wall to the other and asked us to imagine that that was a small piece of eternity. Then, on that string, he pinched one section and that half inch, that is our life on earth. It’s a tiny spot.
So, knowing that it is short-lived, we start looking at moments, micro-measurements along the thread. Today was the first snow – October 10 and snow arrived! I can moan and groan about not being ready for winter to come, wanting warm weather still, or I can choose to celebrate the moment. Instead of moaning, I slipped on the big rubber farm boots and went out with the dogs. The pup thought that a million white butterflies had arrived and was giddy with excitement. She chased snow flakes, jumping up and down, pouncing the swirls, and just standing back in awe at her first view of that frozen white wonder. I thought it was a great example of how I can look at life. I can moan and groan about something unexpected, or something that I wasn’t ready for – or I can jump in and choose to celebrate.
Sometimes, things occur that are hard or painful. We may bring it on ourselves or we may be feeling the effects of what someone else has done to us. How do we celebrate in that? We celebrate that there is redemption even in the worst of things for us and for others. We celebrate that God is always with us, and provides the shelter and answers we most need right at the perfect time, though in often unexpected ways. We can choose to celebrate learning from this time, learning from the past and having a better future.
It’s the first snow – let’s celebrate it!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Pushing back from my desk, its lunch time! My stomach is growling as I head down the hall to the front door and then off to my car. On my way there, I look up at a senior assisted living apartment complex. If I leave at noon, there is often a woman in one of those windows, looking out on the street below. I wave, she waves back. I wonder what she thinks as she looks out.
Last week, I looked up and she wasn’t there. The potted plant was still hanging in the window, framing glass in green strands and leaves. I found myself wondering about that woman. Was she okay? Was she on a trip? Did she go someplace for lunch?
Somehow, this woman became my neighbor. I’ve never met her; we have only waved off and on at each other for the last year. But, yet – somehow she is my neighbor. Now, as I walk past, I pray for her and for her day. I pray for her health and that there are other things in that room beside the plant that make it feel homey.I wonder – who will be the next new neighbor that arrives in my life.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Have you checked out the writing prompts online? One of them caught my attention…. “They had nothing to say to each other.” So, with that in mind:
They had nothing to say to each other. They had everything to say to each other. The thoughts that needed to be spoken hung in the air, as if the air itself would soon force them to speak or remove it’s oxygen from them. Where to begin though, if you couldn’t begin to speak?
They had been friends for years, and then everything changed and life split them apart. Words were reduced to a few stilted conversations here and there. Slowly, the discussions, at first long-winded about life and family became shorter and shorter, more sporadic in their arrival. But, now the chance to speak, it was gone. Too much separated them and the casual comfort that once existed was now gone.
Staring through the wooden slats on the deck railing, he looked into the brown eyes of his friend. A space that they could not breach separated them, and now they had nothing to say. The good-byes had been said. The wooden slats braced his head as he leaned forward one more time. The moving van had come, the house had been packed up, and it was time to get into the van to drive to his new home.
One more glance back at his friend, the black lab turned and trotted up to his person, tail wagging and ready to approach his new adventure. His people were taking him for a ride! Good-bye to his friend Rusty, the chocolate lab next door, sat on his deck and watched his friend leave. Maybe a new neighbor dog would come that he could be friends with. No, there was nothing left to say.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Ever since I can remember, every fall I have heard the story of the Great Painter. Every fall, the leaves slowly change from their chlorophyll full green to their real shade of yellow, red, orange, and tan. The Great Painter paints each leaf; each is its own work of art – unique and special. If the leaves stayed green, we would miss the colors of fall.
Life changes too, colors of transformation. I think about ten years ago, 5 years ago, or yesterday. Each day is unique; each is its own piece of art. I can think of some days that are kind of orange, filled with warmth. They remind me of days with fire rings, low bonfires with potatoes roasting in the coals, a pile of marshmallows ready to be licked by flames and caramelized.
The yellow leaves, sunny in color are some of my favorites. Like bits of sunshine caught all the way into the cell walls of the leaf, they hold color of sweet Indian summer days, holding bits of tantalizing warmth. I’ve had some yellow leaf days, days that are full of brightness, laughter, and friendship.
Caught on misty wet sidewalks, the tan leaves stick to the concrete. They are the misty, rainy days that declare it is necessary to grab a soft blanket and go back to bed. Candle light, a fire in the stove, sweatshirts, and warm soup are all needed on the tan days. Tan days are the blah, ho-hum days. There may be some tears, there may be some wishing for different colors. These are also the days to be thankful for the other colors.
As the Great Painter paints the leaves, and the days – I’m hoping for lots of orange and yellow days, but know that there will be some tan days as well. After all, how could they orange and yellow be as sweet without them?
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I come before You Lord You’re with me somehow
My heart’s in a thousand pieces And You’ve always been faithful
Maybe even more So Lord even now
When all that I can sing
Is a broken hallelujah
When my only offering
Is shattered praise
Still a song of adoration
Will rise up from these ruins
I will worship You and give You thanks
Even when my only praise
Is a broken hallelujah
Oh Father, You have given How could I doubt Your goodness
Much more than I deserve Your wisdom, Your grace
And I have felt Your hand of blessing So Lord hear my heart
On me at every turn In this painful place
I lift my voice
Your Spirit moves
I raise my hands
I reach for You
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Crickets, a soft wind, the crackle of a fire, frogs singing their tunes, the sweetness of silence only comes when I slow myself down. Slowing down, that is so hard to do, though I’m not sure why. Have you ever tried to just be still and quiet for a little while? If I sit down for a little while, I find myself either only faking stillness with my body while my mind whirs at its normal speed or I fall asleep.
But, I need stillness. Prayer is a conversation with God. I’ve been in very few conversations that are good and while only being one way. I seem to stay awake and manage to concentrate when I’m pouring out my heart to God, but when I stop to listen to Him – it’s not so easy.
I stopped today for just two minutes to be quiet and listen. What a long two minutes! I’m going to have to work up to a longer time period. Then I think – that’s terrible, two minutes! My creator, my Lord who knows the number of hairs on my head, every prayer before I pray – and I have a hard time with over two minutes!
I’m going to make a choice, an effort, to spend time listening to God. To spend time in the quiet until it’s not so quiet. But, instead it is a time to be filled with the sound of God’s voice, sweeter than the songs of the frogs, the fire, and the crickets on a quiet evening.
Monday, October 5, 2009
My grandfather has been ill most of my life, struggling with various health problems. Living away, there have been many times where I’ve missed seeing and participating in the good days, the good months, the good years. But, on a recent trip home, I and my family were given a gift.
Sitting in a welcoming church, the pew I sit in has held many over the years. These pews were the ones my parents grew up in, though they are padded now. I know the smell, the sound of feet on the floor, the shoe and wood meeting. The pulpit has a familiar look to it. My grandfather preached here, loving the people that were part of his flock. He prayed for them, worked with them, grew them. But, for years he has been primarily home bound.
Coming in for the trip, I was pleased to see my family, my grandparents. We spent time with them at their home and then at a family brunch. I didn’t think that we would see them again that next day, after all that much activity would most likely be too tiring.
But, here I was singing, the hymnal open in front of me, watching the singers in front of me. One of these was my Aunt Tess, who I saw burst into tears. What caused that? What was going on? Following her gaze, I found myself turning around and watching my grandparents walk into the church. I could feel the tears hit the back of my own eyes at that point. What a gift it was to be able to have them there, to see them again in that place. I enjoyed singing with my family, but I really was given a gift to be able to sing with my family to both sets of my grandparents.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I can dress up, put on the best outfit where the lines fall just right, a great pair of shoes, hose, some time with the flat iron and various hair products. Lotion and then make-up, just a bit of mascara, lipstick and gloss, all applied with expert precision. Grab the perfect little bag and wah-lah - the person I am presenting you helps to create a positive perception. Or, if you would have seen me Monday night, just a bystander and fellow shopper at Wal-Mart, you would have seen me in over-sized grey sweat pants that have a few little holes in the knees. A pink t-shirt collar showed around the grey sweat shirt, again oversized for comfort. The hair was not done and therefore at poofy odd angles. A tan shoe on my right foot, my boot on my left to keep the ankle supported, no make-up and a pained if not determined look on my face. What would the perspective be there? For someone who didn't know me, it could be completely different. Thankfully, God doesn't see my limited perspective when he looks at me or you. Instead, he is looking much deeper and broader.
What does God see when he looks at me. Oh Lord - don't look at me! I am much more the sweat pant person than the swirly skirt perfect hair person. I am messy and messed up sinful fall on my face person. But, God sees me in His image! HIS image - how is that possible? How could he love me so much that he could see past they layers of problems, insecurities, hopes, dreams, and head strong stubbornness? I am thankful that he does! I need to start looking at myself like God looks at me. That means I can't ignore the difficulties, but will go out and face them, knowing that God's strength is on my side. That also means that I get to see God's perfect plan for me, His perfect will. What do you see if you look at yourself from God's perspective? I know someone who sells themselves short. A growing faith, funny and boisterous bounce in each step, I love the activity and watching the activity and bustle. But, if you listen to the perception it is focused on all the past problems, past failures and successes, past hurts, past hopes. It hurts to see someone that I care about look through human eyes and (even worse), the critical eyes that are around. God doesn't see that when he looks at my friend - he sees someone who is precious to Him, someone worth dying for, someone forgiven, and someone loved. I'll stick my glasses on or my contacts in, in my prayer life asking God to give me a better perspective.
I'm tackling a new book, about the life of David. I love the title of one of the chapters, David and the Dwarf. You might have heard the story of this shepherd boy who goes out to face this giant who was nearly 10 feet tall. NBA agents would be swarming this guy with his build, athleticism, and confidence. Then, there is David. Just a regular old shepherd boy, the youngest of the sons, and one that tends to be forgotten about at that. David goes out and faces the giant. Everyone else sees a giant. But, God saw that Goliath was though physically imposing, was really much weaker than David. David had an opportunity to see Goliath, the Giant, through God's perspective. I want to see through God's perspective. Let's go get our eyes checked together and learn to look together. What is it that is a giant to me, but is really dwarfed in God's sight?