Wednesday, November 29

Bunnies? Really?

Rabbits: Cute. Furry. Lop-eared. Veggie eating. Stub-tailed. And resiliant.

Temperatures in our part of the world have dropped to forty degrees below zero. Creatures and people alike have been hiding away behind closed doors, struggling to stay warm beneath layers of quilts with steaming mugs of hot something in hand.

Today the weather broke. That is to say, today temperatures shot up to minus fifteen degrees. Balmy and walk-worthy weather, for sure. I donned my walking things and struck out into the fields ("struck" being a rather aggressive way of saying "slogged," "pushed," "pressed"), snow sitting mid-calf and untouched by anything save the winds of the past few days.

The slog was formidable and a half-hour's hike had me deep breathing and chilled as I marched my way across territory that no human had graced for several days. Because people could not have withstood the freezing winds and biting blasts of ice and snow.

But the rabbits did. Everywhere I went I saw tracks of one critter kind: bunnies. We know the little guys to be fast ~~ our dogs give them chase daily. And are daily outsmarted by the speedy balls of fur. But I did not know that they were so hearty. Their tracks ran the distance of many city blocks and shot off in all directions. Evidence of a thriving population was everywhere in that windblasted field.

I trudged home, exhausted after plowing snow for only a few minutes, thinking about how unlike those cotton-tails I am ~~ how much I should aspire to mimic them.

Sometimes the chill that blasts through my mind and emotions is daunting, unrelenting. When that happens, I want to retreat to warm safety and shield myself from the offending cause of the deep freeze. Since that's usually not an option, I might adopt a more rabbit-like approach and just keep moving from one place to the next ~~ it will keep me as warm, if not warmer, than sitting huddled out of sight ever could.

Monday, November 27


It is easy to be thankful
When the family is near and safe
When all are warm and fed
When temperatures outside whip
to a frigid -30 degrees
While inside it's all fuzzy socks
and bulky sweaters
With a hot apple crisp on the way

My gratitude has a shadow
A question follows, always, on its' heel
What can I do to give, to help, to serve
The ones who have not been given so much?

I am searching for the light that dispels that shadow

Thursday, November 23


With a flick of a switch, the morning's news assaults my cluttered kitchen, my twenty year old boom box still adequately pumping out it's woeful tales. Car bombs. A murder just a few blocks from here. A young man, just a teenager, killed suddenly in a car accident. The countries of the world in disarray.

The quiet place deep within reminds me that these stories are not the whole story. There is good to be found. Redemption . Reconciliation. Restoration.

Last night I had a dream:

The world around me was vague, hazy, full of faceless people doing unidentifiable things. I was wandering amongst them feeling hopelessly detached. Lost. A song reverberated as I wandered, "Just love them like Jesus. Carry them to Him. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. You don't need all the answers to all of life's questions. Just love them like Jesus and stay by their side." (Casting Crowns) The me in the dream began weeping uncontrollably, changing the words into a query, "How can I love them like Jesus? How can I carry them to Him?"

And from that deep and quiet place came the beginnings of an answer, "Just go to where they are."

As the top news slices through the morning air, a reminder comes that we have a part to play in bringing the Story of Hope to a floundering planet. We need to go to where the hurting are.

A recently read study professed that as the world "shrinks" and we blunder our way through the information age, our feeling of powerlessness is growing. We see a great deal of violence, hear of trauma's from places next door and around the world. Our nature is to respond, to help. But the needs are too great, the problems too vast, and we as humans are not coping well with our inability to fix the brokenness.

But the quiet place reminds us that the loss and destruction are not the whole story. There is good to be found. Redemption. Reconciliation. Restoration.

And that good, that healing, will be visited here through you and I. The Creator of All, the Savior, the Spirit of God is active. Moving. Working. Healing. He requires our hands, our voices, our emotions to present His story to the world.

Out from under the comfort of our addictions and methods of coping. Alongside our rituals of worship. Hand in hand in hand in hand with our fellow God-lovers. Servants of the majestic One. We can go to the place of suffering and offer redemption and restoration. We must offer Christ.

Tuesday, November 21

Her True Colors

Smoke-blue and dusty Green whisper her subservience. Her dreams have faded long since. She eases from one day into the next

into the next

into the next.

Unflinching Gold makes her reassuring presence known. She is certain of this: Her God is true and He is good. Come all that life can wield against a woman’s heart, Gold tells that she knows I Am.

A scatter of garish Pinks and lusty Reds foretell a trap. She moves with careful intent. She will lure. She will trap. She will own.

The Grey of steel and stone encase a heart found too close to this one. She is trapped by bars and gates long unopened. She would have you incarcerated too.

White light. Brilliant in its purity, the shimmer of her joy pulls you to her. To know her is to know Him.

Orange promises excitement, and her humor does not disappoint. But masked there, too, a faded yellow, waiting for gentle exposure to the light of the Son.

She is not who she thinks she is. Trying a garment of crimson or blue, one of peach or ash gray, none ring true. She settles for a canvas sack to hide her True Purple.

Earth and moss, cool streams and dew. She brings comfort, rest to any that sit with her. Her color is that of nature. Her nature is rich in color.

Her touch is Silver satin on weary hands. Gentleness adorns her in Blues and Ivory. Lavender mercy cloaks her shoulders. She changes her world with His character.

We show ourselves unwittingly
expressions, language, thought
Leaving an impression
a mark
A streaming color ribbon

A Game of Gopher

A Children's Story
(Written verrrry quickly to make a point for a very distracted little boy!)

Diggory and Quincy liked nothing better than to go on tremendously long walks with their people. With their ebony fur streaming in the wind, their enormous pink tongues lolling and dripping out of the sides of their gaping canine mouths, they would run from sniff to scent and back again.

Wheat fields were a favorite walk. City walks were acceptable, but a little boring for two pooches that fancied themselves to be great hunters. It was just that, of course: a fancy. Quincy and Diggory could never actually catch anything, but the chase was enormous fun and they sniffed out everything from rabbits to mice, and pheasants to coyotes.

Their very best walk, their absolute favorite of all, was a summertime romp in a field full of gophers. Diggory and Quincy, usually calm and just a little bit lazy, became wild, frothing at the mouth hunters in that field. With every peep from a gopher hole, the dogs would launch into a frenzied chase, charging from hole to hole, desperately trying to get their paws on a wiggly little rodent.

Those gophers were a whily lot, however! No sooner would the dogs arrive at one hole, convinced they’d finally cornered a critter, when a gopher squeek would sound from a completely different hole ten feet away. Off they’d run again, sure that this time they would pin the little beast down.
From hole to hole they would run and leap. From squeak to peep they would wildly chase. And the gopher’s, playing their taunting game, would just keep sounding off in different parts of the field.

Diggory and Quincy’s people had a hard time getting control of the dogs on this sort of walk; the dogs were so intent on the sounds and smells of the field that they forgot the people were there. They just ran and ran and ran. Eventually the people would catch-up, put on their leashes, and tell them it was time to go home.

When they did get home, those furry, slobbering, exhausted pooches would flop in a heap on the kitchen floor, quickly falling into a dream-filled sleep. Soundly sleeping – even snoring – they would continue to chase those gophers! Paws scritching and noses sniffling, Quincy and Diggory dreamed about the hunt long after it was over.

In some ways, I think our minds behave a bit like those two big, black dogs. Sometimes lazy, sometimes bored, and sometimes a little bit wild. Thoughts can act a lot like gophers in a wide open field: they pop up here and there. They trick us into thinking about something over here instead of the thing we’re supposed to be concentrating on over there. And sometimes there are so many thoughts we just can’t catch them all and we feel very overwhelmed.

Sometimes Diggory and Quincy needed their people to leash them and bring them back under control before they went completely, wildly out of control. And sometimes we need to do the same thing with our minds: we need to just slow everything down for a bit and choose one gopher to chase instead of trying to catch them all!

Saturday, November 18

Princess Lulu

Princess Lulu was a lucky, lucky princess, indeed.

Her castle was just so – with tapestries and statues and couches and cushions all just as she liked them. She was very rich, of course, so she had only to ask, and countless servants would rush to find anything she liked and to do whatever she bid them.

Princess Lulu ruled a happy land filled with well-fed peasants and contented lords. Each afternoon, just around two o’clock, Miss Lulu would mount her charming white pony and trot throughout her little kingdom, spreading cheer everywhere she went.

Lulu had, as all princesses do, a lot of time to do the things she loved. She read books and books and books. She invited friends (she had lots of friends – all sorts of friends!) to tea in the back gardens. She spent hours listening to her very own minstrels, and she meandered endlessly througout her vast lands.

But Princess Lulu was not happy. Not happy at all. Because there was one thing that she did not have. Princess Lulu did not have magical abilities. Other princesses, in nearby kingdoms, had magical powers. They could wave their wands and make flowers appear. They could speak a word and make trees whisper. Some could even fly.

The lack of this one thing had Lulu feeling very badly, indeed. She spent hour upon hour pondering and wondering and fussing about how she might unearth a magical ability of her own. Many days, Princess Lulu became really quite cranky because of this one thing that she lacked.

She spent a great deal of time reading about how she might acquire magical power like the princesses nearby. She even sent her most trusted servants to scour the land for a magic wand that she could learn to use, thereby giving her abilities like those of her neighbors.

But try, try, try as she might, Princess Lulu could not stir up any sort of magical anything.
Lulu’s effort turned to frustration, and then to anger. And Princess Lulu, once a caring and fun loving girl, became a grumbling and demanding aristocrat.

Tea with friends was put off indefinitely. She was far too embarassed by her useless magic wand and magic-less life to have the other princesses around. Her books stayed on their shelves, her minstrels went unheard, and her lovely horse went unexcercised while her many subjects daily went without kind words or cheerful conversation.

Lulu stayed in her bed chambers, her beautiful quilts and lovely cushions tucked snuggly around her, her servants at a loss as to what to do to change the mood of this suddenly sour young lady.

One particularly despairing day, the princess threw a fit of temper, sitting there in the middle of her princess-perfect bed and blubbing. "Why can’t I have a magical ability?" she demanded. "Why must I have such a useless, not-magic wand?" she complained. "I want what the other princesses have! It’s just not fair." And she flopped herself down amongst the bedclothes and sobbed deep, gulping, nose dripping sobs.

At just that moment, one the castle servants knocked hesitantly on Lulu’s bedchamber door. "Excuse me, Your Majesty?" the servant queried nervously, "Princess Abeline requests an audience."
"Let her come," sighed Lulu disinterestedly, quickly wiping her eyes and pulling herself together with a sigh and a pout.

Now, Princess Abeline was from the countryside, two kingdoms over from Lulu’s. She was a dear friend, generous of heart and humor. Abeline had, of course, a special magical ability: she could make brand new stars appear with just the humming of a tune. Princess Abeline was sweet tempered and gentle. She was known throughout the lands for her tender heart.

But, judging by the look on her very stern face, her heart was not tender that day. Princess Abeline, usually soft spoken and meek, marched up to Lulu’s bedside, and in a very un-gentle voice demanded, "Just WHAT do you think you are doing?"

Princess Lulu, very much surprised, and a little put-off (she had been, you remember, in the middle of a rousing tantrum before she was interrupted by her friend), looked sharply at Abeline. "What do you mean, ‘What do I think I am doing’?"

"You must stop this fussing nonsense, at once!" commanded Abeline. "How long are you going to sit holed-up in your castle, muttering and pouting about the one thing you do not have when so much has been given to you?!" Princess Abeline was angry, and her voice was rising with every breath she took. "Really! What a spoiled girl you are! Fussing and tantruming about not having magic. Silly thing! Think of all that you DO have! How long are you going to sit in here, behaving like a very un-royal, over-indulged baby?!"

Princess Abeline paused for a breath, her face reddening with effort and embarrassment. Princess Lulu, meanwhile, sat very still. Completely still. Completely shocked. She stared at her good friend, amazed at the stern words and harsh tone she had used. And while she sat, and while she stared, she had a good long think.
Abeline was right, of course. She had been behaving badly – like a spoiled princess. Abeline was right about all the things she did have, too. In fact, the list of things that Princess Lulu did have, she realized, was much, much longer than the list of things she did not have.

Lulu jumped down from the bed that very moment, her sudden burst of activity so startling Princess Abeline that she let out a shriek and ducked behind one of Lulu’s beautifully ornate bedposts. Lulu ran around to where Abeline was hiding, gave her a quick hug, and said "You are absolutely right, of course, my wise friend! I’ve been looking at this magic thing all wrong! So what if I don’t have the ability to turn toads into servants or servants into butterflies! There are so many things I do have!"

That very afternoon, after serving Princess Abeline a hot tea and sending her on her way, Lulu sat down with her royal scribe and made a list – a very loooong list of all of the wonderful things she had in her kingdom. And she made another list – a very short list of all the things she did not have. She put that list on the nightstand beside her bed – a place she’d be sure to see it each and every morning upon awakening.

Princess Lulu called for her minstrels and for her cook. She had a special garden party planned for the very next day: a party for all of her magic-doing princess friends. A party with music and readings and good things to eat. She called for a servant to bring her pony to her straight away. And she mounted that horse and had a good long ride through her kingdom spreading kind words and cheer everywhere she went. "Magic!" the peasants whispered as she passed by them. "What a magical way she has about her," intoned the lords as she waved her way past.

And it was magic. Not the sort that turned stones into crickets or mosquitos into mud, but the sort that reminded people for miles around, that once more, all was well in Princess Lulu’s kingdom.

Wednesday, November 15


Shaped to heighten or dim your senses, they draw pictures of enchantment, of promise, of cursing, of creation.
They tell tales of rescue and fear, caressing the minds-eye with painful beauty and startling evil.
Speak them, and they kill. Whisper them and they restore.
Words are Power.
The Father spoke, and it was so.
Christ taught, and it was so. The Spirit whispers and it is so.
We speak, we tell, we whisper. And it is so.

Tuesday, November 14

The Glory of Housewifery

I have flour between my toes. I have flour between my toes and in the folds of my jeans. Between my toes, in the folds of my jeans, in my hair, under my nails, and enmeshed in the knit of my sweater. The dogs are covered in it--their chops a gooey mess of gob-soaked dust turned to glue and their fur a sprinkled mass of...Oh. No problem. They've shaken it all out now. (sigh)And the kids have walked through it, scattering it throughout the house--in the couches, over the carpets, dusting every visible surface.

I have flour between my toes.

All I was trying to do was yank the sack out of the pantry to set up a Science experiment (and a cool one at that ~~ all about Mercury and its' craters). But I tugged too hard on the topmost parts thereby removing the uppermost from the bottommost and leaving a ten kilogram bag of Robin Hood flour torn tidily in two. Right into the recycling bin. I use the term "bin" loosely. It is, in fact, a recycling heap. A mound. A mishmash of everything from cardboard to plastic bags to pickle jars. (sigh)

Fortunately, I have kids and dogs ready at the bat to aid in the "clean-up." The dogs should be fine without food for a week. The boys? Well. They're just glad it was me doing the spilling and gleefully gave me permission to swear ~~ as long as I did it in German.

It's up my nose (the flour) and coating the inside of my mouth. I seem to have developed a twitch in my left eye, but that is, possibly, unrelated. (sigh)

I'll be doing a lot of baking this afternoon. Most of the white fluff has been cleanly recovered and will be transformed into zuccini cake and cinnamon buns (I'm not so easily defeated, Robin Hood!), but first I think I'll go vacuum out my socks.

Monday, November 13

(For my friends, who daily remind me that a bent knee before the King of Kings is the best posture of all )

A persistent widow
A courageous centurion
A world-wise prostitute
A king

These, and many like them, knew approaching the Maker of the world takes courage. And it takes humility. A friend reminded me today, by the manner of her living and her written words, that it’s never too late, too soon, too anything to address God; it’s never too late, too soon, too anything to be changed by Him.

She postures herself at the feet of the Savior; hands open, chin raised, eyes on Him. She waits for Him. And, sometimes, waits…and waits…and waits. He speaks to her and heals her and changes her.

A persistent widow
A courageous soldier
A world-weary prostitute
A king

We can sit, bow, stand in the presence of the LORD of Lords ~~ our posture stiff-necked and filled with justifiable offense.

We can sit, bow, stand, move in the presence of the LORD of Lords ~~ ready, open, receptive, teachable.

Better to approach with tenderness, belief, deference to His sovereignty.
To know Him like the prostitute and the king.


Friendship’s precarious balance
of honesty and grace
Her tentative steps
toward authenticity, integrity
Pursuing connection
Seeking understanding

What gives you the right to be heard?
Rejected truth telling
because it is, after all,
Only an opinion
Better to go
Where friends will say
the things you want to hear

A year
or many
You would have done well
To heed uncomfortable caution
Better not to have rejected
The ones who love you best
And their costly counsel

Friendship’s precarious balance
of honesty and grace

Sunday, November 12

If God is in us...

Fruit. If God is in us, there will be good fruit. More specifically, we will embody Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.

At this point, my shoulders sag dramatically and an enormous sigh escapes pouty lips. To look at that list, I can assume that the Holy Spirit has pitched His tent far, far away. The very first fruit—love—has me undone. Have you read the Love Chapter in the Bible recently? The list of things that ‘Love is…’ is very long and wholly unatainable to yours truly.

This all sounds hum drum and hopeless, but if God says it in His Word, then the challenge of treasure hunting can begin; He’s made a way to live these things out in our everyday, we simply need to unearth that Way.

I wonder if, for example, when He says, "The fruit of the Spirit is…" He knows that the likelihood of us trucking all of those basketfulls of excellence around with us is pretty unlikely. Maybe He’s saying that if peace shows up, or patience or goodness, that’s evidence of God in us. Perhaps every time we exhibit behaviors contrary to our own judgemental, self-seeking, greedy natures we are expressing the fruit of His Spirit.

A friend and I were recently questioning the nature of change in people. I, the pessimist, hold that people never really change—at the heart of us we struggle with the same issues all of our lives, and we walk valiantly in the same areas all of our lives. But she made a casual comment about how the changes she’s seen in her own character and thinking over the years feel like she’s simply becoming more of who she was always meant to be.

A spark lit in each of us in the next moments of conversation. What if God, in making us in His image, has built sweetness and strength and excellent character into us already? Deep, deep into us.

In our heavily psychologized era, we’re continually grasping outside of ourselves for the finer qualities of God (feeling like He is distant and His traits out of reach). What if, instead, we believed Him when He says that He’s living in us? What if we believed that because love and joy and goodness and self-control are His nature, that they are our nature as well?

It shifts the focus away from us, again, and on to Him. It takes the pressure off of us to become something other than what we are (striving and disciplining and failing) and invites us to simply let Him show up. He’s already in there! We can just let Him…well…out.

Instead of caging Him behind bars of doubt and shame, good deeds and endless ministry, we might just learn to set aside the agendas of our own making and permit Him to be wildly God. And we might acknowledge that if He’s made our hearts His home, then all the richness of His character dwells there, too.

So, while the lists of "Love is…" and "The fruits of the Spirit are…" look long, let’s be encouraged that if God says it, He makes a way for it. He has not left us. He’s in us and He’s alive and He loves.

Thursday, November 9


The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self--all your wishes and precautions--to Christ...Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self...
~C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

More Calvin Miller

And this (we) must remember:
God does not love them less because they are different from us,
nor us more because we are Christians.
There is a weakness of egotism in all of us.
We each presume ourselves to be such special friends of God,
believing that God prefers to love us
and to despise those we call our enemies.
God has no enemies.
~Calvin Miller (The Book of Seven Truths)~

Wednesday, November 8

Spider Babies

I’m not very good at killing things. Catch and release has been the preferred pest control method in our home. Everything from wasps to mice, and birds to salamanders--if it finds it’s way into our yard or house, we catch it and set it free.

God’s genius in stirring life and the instinct to survive in His creatures has always amazed me. So, I’m not very good at killing things. Let them live, I say! Let’s see what happens if we just let them live!

Which is what brings me to the page, today, because sometimes things need to die. Some things cannot be left to survive and thrive. They need to be removed or they will take on and take over places that do not belong to them.

Two summers ago my sons and I discovered a mama crab spider roosting (Do spiders roost? I think it’s appropriate to say they do—especially if their as big as this one was!) underneath our back porch light. She had a dime-sized beige abdomen and surprisingly sturdy legs. We were fascinated by her and let her be, feeling alternately astonished and terrified by her doings (She was large enough to trip the motion sensor on the porch light—an amusing conversation starter for our arachnophobic friends!).

That summer we found two or three more such critters between the rungs of the deck railing. We took pictures and wrote reports and were generally intrigued by their ugliness and size.
Last summer I started watching for their return early in the spring. I was not disappointed. Securely nestled between two deck rungs was what appeared to be a ball of spider eggs. I eagerly called for the boys to "come see!" Upon closer investigation we realized that the ball wasn’t made up of eggs at all, but of hundreds (two hundred, maybe?) of dot-sized baby spiders. A gentle puff of breath on the nest sent them scurrying frantically up and down the strands of their intricately woven haven.

Amazing, to be sure, but what had been fascinating the year before became mildly creepy, and I promptly called a bug guy to determine whether or not our safety was at risk. Two or three large-bellied, yellow, motion sensor-tripping stalkers is one thing, but a deck held hostage by crawlies was not a happy summer thought. Bug Guy excitedly suggested that we let the little fellows live and that we simply "move them" to another location in the yard.

As I’m not very good at killing things, this seemed like a viable and eco-friendly option.
But by the time I got back to their spot, they were gone. Up and moved. Out of there. I was too late to relocate them! They’d done that all on their own…all over the deck, under the deck, in the surrounding garden patches, and in various nooks and crannies in the house siding.

We were over-run. Thankfully, not all two hundred babies grew to adulthood (presumably they were lunched on by natural predators, or possibly by each other), but that summer found our deck hostage to dozens of round bellied, hissing (Okay, okay. They didn’t actually hiss. But they were a lot less intriguing and a lot more freaky than they had been the year before!), grab-you-as-you-go-by adult crab spiders.

Still, "Let them live," I said. They’re not doing any harm—unless, of course, you’re offended by the site of bug insides splattered all over the side of the house and the emptied casings of bug bodies strewn about the ground beneath their webs.

Which brings us to this summer. Again, I started an early watch for spider babes, determined to catch them and move them before they had a chance to divide and conquer (realizing that the number of last years’ adults did not bode well for the quantity of babies we were likely to find now). Sure enough! I found the baby heap, promptly scooped them up, carted them to the back of the garden and resettled them in their new digs.

And then I found another ball of babies. And another. And another. Hundreds and hundreds of teeny, soon to be freakishly large, monster babies.

The relocated ones promptly spread out, making their lodgings in the boys’ fort, amongst plants, and along yards and yards of fence. They were countless and growing and multiplying faster than ever I could hope to catch and release anything!

So this summer I’m learning to kill. Just in this isolated case, I assure you, but let’s face it! Enough is enough. "Death To Spider" Spray firmly in hand I became the stalker. I hunted down babies and mamas alike and sent them speedily to that happy web in the sky. Or I’m attempting to. They seem to be a rather hearty lot of survivors (Good for them, I say!) and the task looks endless.

Is there a point to all of this carnage? Well, yes. Sometimes things need to die. What looks harmless, fascinating, even alluring, in one season of your life can become something overwhelming and consuming in another.

We are gradually taken over by thoughts that run un-checked, self-pity that’s left to fester, bitterness that’s left to settle into the crooks and sheltered places in our hearts. There are times when catch and release simply will not do. Some thoughts need to die. Some fears need to be crushed. Unforgiveness needs to be be snuffed. Destroyed.

Moving these things to the back of our minds will not rid our souls of them. We need to see them permanently off.

I’m hoping next summer will see our crab spider population at a more manageable level, but if they insist on claiming the yard again, I’ll be ready for them, "Spider Begone" at the ready, at the beginning of the season this time!

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life…
May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.
1 Thessalonians

Tuesday, November 7

Our Father

My Father
I don’t always feel comfortable with a name so distant, so intimate,
but I love you. Today, I love you.

Who is in Heaven
Promising nearness but sometimes feeling far, far away.
I acknowledge you are here and removed, both.

Holy is your Name
A God who makes both the song of the frog and the sting of the hornet;
Calm eddies in raging rivers and lush mosses on jagged mountains
Such a One is magnificent and beyond my understanding. You are holy, holy, holy.

Your Kingdom come
Because it is the only one that will stand, though men build many of their own.

Your will be done
Because all hope rests in knowing that your way is Love and that we can be free.

On earth
This torn and groaning, glorious and beautiful planet.

As it is in Heaven
What is it like where you sit? Is it as flawless and untouched by sin as we hope it is?
Can we see here a Kingdom unscarred by the wrongs of men?

Give us today our daily bread
Bread for our bodies. Bread for our souls. Enough to sustain us. Enough to give.

Forgive us our trespasses
They are many and dark and often repeated. Thank you for second chances.

As we forgive those who trespass against us
Because they are as worthy of love as ever we are. You do not wish ill on our enemies
any more than you wish harm to come to us. We choose to forgive with every breath.
No more with-holding. Only the beat of redemption pulsing through our every vein.

Lead us not into temptation
Temptation is doing a fine job of recruiting all on it’s own!

But deliver us from evil
As we will need rescue upon rescue from it’s cloying talons. Our minds. Our emotions.
Our spirits balk at the ever-growing threat to our sanity.

Yours is the kingdom
Perfect. Timeless. Unmarred.

The power
Kind and terrifying. Restrained and fierce.

And the glory
One day we will gaze upon your beauty. That one thing do we desire:
To dwell in the House of the Lord…

Today. Before creation. Tomorrow. Beyond imagination. You Are.

Monday, November 6

We are the breathtaking bride of the Savior of the world.
"How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!"
Song of Songs

From Calvin Miller

You cannot practice your animosities while you are trying to save the dying.
~Calvin Miller (The Book of Seven Truths)~


I can't sleep. So I've been listening to frog songs, the only sound breaking the stillness of the wee hours of a summer morning. I'm praying and looking for my Lord. He's quiet. So I ask Him offhandedly, "Are you with us?" Sometimes my soul groans with longing for Him to break the silence.

Just as the words cross my lips, I glance into the northern night sky and witness the sudden appearance of what becomes the most elaborate display of Northern Lights I've ever seen.

I know I should feel something: some definitive "Wow! God's really with us!" But it isn't that sort of moment. He just keeps unfolding more lights and more patterns; beautiful green slashes and ribbons and glaciers of light. He's playing wildly and deliberately with His Heaven. I dare to believe, so briefly, that He is performing for me alone.

He is bigger than my understanding, with ways too mysterious and astonishing for my limited intellect. He is often silent. He is always creating.

Is He with us?
Ask Him.
Beyond all
Words too confining
To capture your restrained Glory
I catch my breath in fear
Of a Maker so wild, so contained
Clouds whispering the reaches of
The Face of God
Light dancing to the Song of its' Creator
Beyond all
Words too confining
To capture
Your boundless, restrained Glory

Perfect Walk

A thunder storm is pounding away just south of home.
I tug on well-worn walking shoes, grab the leashes from their spot by the back door, whistle for the dogs, and set out for the evening's hike.

The scent of fresh rain and soggy soil welcomes me as I press quickly through the yard and along the night-black asphalt of the back alley. City walks hold little charm; I know that a short jog will get me to the edge of town and into the outskirts of the farmers' field.

I'm always wary of trodding on his wheat crop. It feels sacrilegious to even think of trampling the product of something so innately Canadian. I steer the dogs away from growing stalks and we make our way around the crops' edge. The path there is worn and packed hard--testimony to other urban hopefuls straining for a taste of country air. The air: blissfully free of mosquito's (thank God!) and rich with smells of earth and sky. A perfectly cool breeze is nipping at the end parts of that thunder storm.

Lightening flashes to the east and south. Straight up and down, sky to earth blasts of light and electricity. We navigate around a patch of thicket and critter-filled brush and strike out across a patch of wild grass. I love this wooly corridor that edges city and farmland alike. I know that if I direct my steps rightly, I can wander in the wild stuff for a long way.

There is no worn path through this part of the field, and soon my five foot two inch frame is dwarfed by wild grasses and purple-topped thistles. I have a momentary twinge of jitters, wondering what exactly may be lurking in the deeps around my feet. Like a swimmer in a deep, dark lake, the chilling promise that "there might be something down there," sends goose bumps up and down my spine.

The recent rain has made the trudging soggy work; the flared legs of my blue jeans are soon sounding a satisfying "thwomp, thwomp" as I press forward through the green and growing things. Wild flowers spring up in surprising mounds and clumps and wispy tufts~~they're as startled to see me as I am delighted to stumble across them.

The dogs--thirty, forty, one hundred feet in front of me--are standing tall and resolute, neck high in the rural green. Their faces are turned hopefully toward the open fields. They look back at me briefly, willing me to send them to their freedom with a "Go get 'em!" Go deep into that boundless open space. Go after the scents and storms and free critters. Cut loose. Run wildly. Run long. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe the free air.

With a sharp whistle I bring them scampering back toward me.

I let the dogs lead the walk, then. Back through brambles and marshy places, clover-laden patches and nose-high weeds. We find the beaten path and turn our steps toward home. Away from the wild. Away from open land. Toward security and warmth. Toward amenities and ease. Enchantment wanes on the return journey, of course; still every step whispers worship to the Maker of the fields and sky, to the god who makes vast prairies and hidden wild flower patches.

I'll take the same way tomorrow
But not every tomorrow
No path should wear its' weary permanence
Out there
No two feet should trample, too often,
That thin strand of freedom

Bad Weather Friends

Just the other day, my best gal pal told me the truth. Not the stroke-your-ego and build you up kind of truth. No, no. The you've-made-me-really-angry-and-you've-hurt-me-and-I-don't-like-this-about-you truth. She challenged my listening skills and my (bad!) habit of being too sympathetic. She'd grown tired of the pitying tone in my voice and asked if I could please just be less negative.

I responded like the controlled, emotionally stable woman that I am: I blubbed like I'd lost my first love, gasped deep, gulping sobs into the phone, all while choking out a, "It's okay. No. Really. I'm so glad you told me. I'll be fine."

I, of course, was not fine. I was heartbroken and stunned. She was right in all that she said, but I was not prepared for the cold, hard facts, and her strong words led to some long and thoughtful moments. I questioned every aspect of the way that I befriend the women in my life and I re-evaluated how I define supporting them. I realized, in the weeks that followed, that when I grow lazy in listening to the heartaches of my friends, I do DO all of those things.

I've since dried my shocked tears and taken a step back from the emotion of the moment. I've come to terms with the fact that I may be less than perfect as a girlfriend. I'm working at changing the things I know how to change. And I'm moving toward gratitude.

I am grateful that I have a woman in my life that will tell it to me straight. In fact, I have several women in my life, who, if pressed would be candid in building me up, correcting me, or supporting me in whatever way was needed at the time.

These women are excellent in so many respects; they are bankers, teachers, caregivers, hairstylists, business women, and homemakers by trade, but their deepest strength lies in their character.

If you sat with any one of them one on one, they would be quick to admit that they don't feel brave or significant. They would laughingly (sometimes tearfully) tell of a misstep of the day, a mistake in business or parenting. They do not feel powerful. They do not feel exceptional. They do not believe that they are extraordinary.

But to me, they are. Each one, in their own way, exemplifies integrity, purpose, and powerful beauty. They are kind. They are generous. They are genuine. My life is made better every day by the presence of these few--and they bring this quality and substance to everything that they do and to every relationship they foster.

Theirs is a presence I need in my life. Sometimes we mishandle each other. Sometimes we completely fail each other. But there is worth, in these women that I call my friends, that cannot be matched by any other thing in this life.

So when the phone rings and it's one of the girls telling me of hurt feelings or frustration, I want to be quick to bend and change. Maybe some of the stuff she's made of will rub off on me.

Thursday, November 2

The sky is a riot of clouds and thunder
Sunshine and piercing blue

Standing on safe ground beneath a cloud that threatens a crashing,
Earth-soaking storm
I think of a God outside of time
and space
and all constraint

The God of thunder
The God of daisies
The God of power and violence
The God of humor and beauty

Sheltering in dry safety from the wind that brings a splattering,
Earth-soaking storm

I think of a God whose power,
When loosed, is fearsome
I think of a God whose creativity,
When spoken is refreshing.

I've just been sneaking a few quiet moments on the back deck and, as often happens when I take three minutes to look up instead of gloomily down, I am awed by the sky just overhead. Our city in Alberta sits at the feet of strong and towering mountains to the west; it is surrounded on all other sides by vast prairie. We have a BIG sky.
The neighborhood where my family has settled is on the east side of town, fringed by wheat fields and far-as-the-eye-can-see open land. I still catch my breath each time I see the striking dandilion yellow of a canola field, backdropped by the fierce purple-grey of a thunderstorm.
Today, I am taken with the comically large white mountain of clouds that hovers above my head. My mind wanders to last night's skies of pink and orange--vast slashes and streaks of chaotic cloud scurrying around a setting sun, strutting like they had something to do with warding off the storm that had been threatening all day. Today is a different story entirely: all is baby blue and pure-as-marshmallows white.
Sometimes the skies roil with menacing blackness, lightening stabbing and thrusting its' way through curtains of thick moisture. The sunsets (and possibly the sunrises, too; I sleep far too late to know for sure!) are as varied as we're told one raindrop is from another. The clouds are always in attendance, sometimes gliding, sometimes lurching their path across the face of the sun.
If the clouds, a simple collection of moisture and such, can be so varied, so startling in their diversity and everyday newness, imagine how much more there is to the character and quality of the God who made them than we have yet seen. Imagine, too, the pleasure He takes in the differences He's fashioned in them. And in you and I.
Our skies, here at home, are never the same one day to the next. Like their Creator, they sometimes show strength and ferocity; they often reveal unfathomable tenderness, solid gentleness, if that makes any sense. Even at their most tenuous, where they sit whispy and light, they leave me with the impression that, if I could just get to them, I could settle into them--like lovers into a hamock (well...I've always thought that may be a lot trickier than it sounds and I imagine I'd be the one, tubby butt over ears, landing with a distinctly un-romantic thud on the porch boards...but you get the idea...).
The sky and its' cloud artists tell a little of what God is like. They express a lot about what we are like.
Some of us know the ease of resting effortlessly in a hot summer sky. Life is trouble free for us, and it is easy to reflect the white light of a noon sun. Some of us mirror well the brilliant colors of a setting sun. We are lively and vibrant--even brash!
Some of us wrap ourselves firmly around unpredictable storm skies. some of us are caught in the storm itself; we're assaulted by crushing winds and threatened by angry bolts of danger and loss. Some of us show up just after the storm, soothing and tender, allowing room for hope. There is always hope. Always. What would we do without the rainbow-framed skies after the storm that promise an end to struggle?
Some of us take on crazy shapes--we're turtles one minute and sailing ships the next. We remind our world that we are born to create and to flex and to draw the attention of others to the Maker of the Sky.
While I sit on the porch (sans hamock and successfully avoiding the threat of bruised limbs) I'll take a moment to consider how truly remarkable our God is. And I'll take a few to remind myself of the many ways that you are like Him.