Monday, June 29, 2015

Placing Hope

When I was a little girl, there was a place at the park where a shelter had been built to overlook a forested valley. If I stood very quietly with bird seed on my hands, chickadees and sparrows would use my palms as their dinner spot. Tiny birds with bright eyes and bold looks would gobble down the seeds and trust me to serve them properly without jumping up and down in delight. In return, their presence thrilled me as I could feel them walking about, tickling my palms and giving me the opportunity to see the details that are a mere blur in flight.

Hope seems to me to be something like those birds. Deceptively fragile, incredibly detailed and something precious to be entrusted with; I try to form it as an image in my mind. But, it is not enough to hope for anything, or it will turn to something small and broken before my eyes. I hope for health, a car that runs, to do my job well, to have happiness and many other things. But, these are small and easily overturned hopes.  Health fades, cars break down, there are good days and bad days in anyone’s job, happiness is not guaranteed. If I hope in these things, I am left hopeless.

A friend wrote about the bravery of choosing to hope in the Creator of hope recently. It seems that in a way, hopelessness may be the easier out because it hedges our bets. Her words encouraged me to continue to bravely continue to seek for the hope that comes with Christ. Hope that is not based on circumstances or culture, media or other people. It is hope that stems from what is true and good and right; from Jesus – the creator of hope.  

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

My hope is in Jesus. I don’t think it could be better placed. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rain on a Metal Roof and Other Sounds

The rain has been pouring this evening. Plunk, plunk, plunk… as the rain lands on the metal tub sitting on the porch. It reminds me of the soothing sound of rain on a metal roof. 

Sitting on a front porch and listening to a summer rain plunk on a metal roof. The porch swing chains creak as they carry it back and forth slowly, one foot lightly keeping the momentum going as the other leg is tucked underneath me. I can practically smell the purple in the vetch on the hill. Frogs near the pond jump from logs, land with a splash and add their own songs to the rain. I feel the bulk of my book; there is the weight of the actual bound print and the heft of the words resting in my hands. The words pull me in slowly, sinking me into the moment and bringing the lyrics of my book alive. The sounds of the rain bring backs lovely memories and I think of how our senses can be such a gift. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day! As a nationally recognized day to celebrate the dad(s) in our lives, this is a good reminder to pause and offer a sincere thanks to the fathers, father figures, and men who have offered to invest of themselves in the lives of others. Billy Graham said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” I would have to agree and want to take a moment to thank my dad for all of his love, time, teaching and wisdom over the years. You have taught me about faith in Jesus, family, honesty, honor, hard work, loving your neighbors, joy and many – many – other things. I’m blessed to have you as a dad!  

A father isn’t always a biological dad. Sometimes he is a step-dad, an uncle, a grandfather, a coach, a teacher, a neighbor, a pastor or someone that serves under one of many other titles out there. But, he does teach, mentor, correct, encourage and guide as we move through our lives. I would urge all of us today to make a point of recognizing that effort; today and in the days to come. Thank you for setting our example.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The View from the Stage – if the Audience Only Knew

The local Ice Cream Social is coming up soon, a big fundraiser for the Art Center. As part of that event we will be singing, hopefully to the enjoyment of those who come. The performance is what all of the practice and preparation lead up to, and yet it is really just the tip of the iceberg, that tiny fraction sticking out of the water that everyone can see. It is what happens underneath the water, in the rehearsals – that is where the real stories live. But, I sometimes wish the audience only knew a few of the insider stories that occur during practices.

There is laughter, silly faces, and some awful notes that occur during practice. It is where we can laugh at our mistakes and correct them. There is joy and effort, support and trust as we know through a gesture or look to change the range of harmony, repeat a line or switch the lead. Three dogs roam around at the same time, sitting on feet and “singing” along with enthusiasm. Lyrics become more familiar and details like clean word endings become the focus of attention. Songs chosen because of lyrics actually gain small stories of their own from how they are arranged, changed and finalized.

All of these little rabbit trails occur, and pop into my mind as I face the audience later. They only really get to see such a tiny part of the whole. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Point and Counterpoint

I haven’t thought about the theories of point and counterpoint, as in musical structure, in a long time. If those are unfamiliar terms, think of a song's melody. The counterpoint occurs when musically a juxtaposition of a new melody is woven into and on top of the first. Without going into the weeds of canons, fourths and fugues; these two independent melody lines play together in a piece of music, each complimenting the other.

Yesterday evening out for a walk in this still deliciously cool June weather, I was enjoying the beautiful sky and the forming sunset. The shoots of pink and orange caught my attention as big audacious brushes of color fanned across the sky to create mammoth rays. It wasn’t for some time after admiring those bands of color that I noticed that there were much more subtle lines of blue crossing the rays. Independently there and yet part of the whole picture.

That was when it hit me - it is point and counterpoint! Two melodic views have been joined together to create one whole, each complimenting the other in an artistic God created vision of beauty. 

Monday, June 15, 2015


The day started with a downpour. While hesitating to leave the dry space under the eaves to make a run for the car, I was also wishing for a porch swing where I could read and listen to the rain. Crossing a puddle later in the day when little drops were still falling, I had to pause to admire the ripples. One drop of water created a wave of movement that then echoed throughout the puddle. Two drops and the ripples start to touch each other. The raindrops keep coming and the patterns become beautifully complex. I had to pause because it reminded me of the ripples people leave in each other’s lives. We all leave ripples in lives we touch. Whether barely noticeable or momentously life altering, echoes of movement impact us all.

My mind is full tonight of those who have touched my life, with those in the last month especially standing out. It comes out in bits and pieces of circular waves, as images in my mind. A silver ax held behind me by a man in uniform, standing by a casket; how embraced by honor and protection I felt. Little white haired women walking with canes all told me that they hadn’t seen me since I was knee high; their greetings gave me grounding. Reaching behind for a sister’s hand, knowing it would be there; blessed by love in family. Meals, visitors, unexpected travelers, hugs, listeners, paperwork helpers and so many more offer compassion and have made these waves a bit more of a gentle swell to ride. I am still occasionally hit by the movement, knocked about for a moment and trying to regain my balance. Tears sting my eyes and I find myself again and again being ready this seasickness to end. But, the ripples today reminded me of how beautiful the movements of others have been, creating beautiful patterns across my life.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Right Destination

An elderly woman, tiny in frame, sat at her dining room table. In quiet tones, she told me about serving as a missionary in war torn countries. She told me of how bombs had dropped in her yard and potential kidnappers had followed her. She told me of the people she loved serving, and how she went to bed and slept in the middle of a war zone. Frail, petite and quiet; to look at her, this would not be the expected paragon of broad shouldered strength. Yet, she had found the right destination to lean on during troubles and in the celebration of victories. She taught me that to share our burdens with each other was not a weakness but a blessing; it both diminished our luggage load and let others be blessed by helping to carry some of that same weight.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:2

It was said to drop the distractions at the door on Sunday. Leave those disruptive troubles, hopes and plans on the stoop so that I can concentrate on the rituals and teachings of the day. But the swollen knot of stress, grief and hope that sits between my ribs and is choking me does not magically dissolve at the door step. I try, I stand there and wait for it to dissolve. I catch myself questioning, am I really just trying to be more self-reliant and self-protective rather than Christ reliant, more detached from the body of Christ rather than linked into the bond of family?  

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.John 13:34

Let’s not leave our disruptions at the door. Instead, let’s carry them in and set these burdens, both light and heavy, down at the altar. For those loads too heavy, large or grand to be carried by one, let us help one another carry them in and set them carefully on the altar. Then, once these things are at their right destination, let us place them safely into the care of the fixer, the dream maker, the healer and author of all good things. It won’t be easy; I know that I am not always so spectacular at making myself vulnerable. It can certainly be uncomfortable for most of us at any moment in time. But especially when this is baggage we have carried with caution and watchfulness, because it is important to us.

Carrying the burdens there, sharing our burdens, loving one another – it is like a city at night, the lights will come on and we will find that we have companions on our journey.  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Letting Summer Dreams Launch

Walking to work, I have noticed the signs of summer starting. Bicycles, chalk drawings and bubble wands have replaced back packs and times tests for a few months; it is such fun seeing these imaginations set loose. Great empty sidewalk canvases stretch out, ready to be decorated. I hear children calling to each other as they pass by on their way to great adventures in local neighborhoods. A little imagination and a yard or two can turn into great quests, journeys to find hidden treasures and then come home to eat a popsicle or two.

I may just need to go find my own sidewalk chalk and see what imagination can bring forth. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Remembering in the New Normal

It may seem like an odd thing to have come to mind, but adjusting to this new normal, I have been dreaming of a couch out in the middle of a cow pasture in Wyoming. It looks a bit odd to see a couch out with cattle in a pasture and nothing else around. But, imagine what a perfect spot to gaze at the night sky. Enormous, beautiful, and galactic; the firmament of the heavens is spilled out. Something so large and amazing makes me feel wonder at the complexity of the star systems and the simplicity of their beauty.

I feel the need to go sit on that couch and gaze up at the stars.