Praising and Groaning

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Blue sky –exceedingly blue –there are no words to describe how beautiful it is. If I were to paint a picture and make the sky this color people would argue that I used the wrong shade. It’s blue like air and water and the color of the eyes of a child: all blended and deep, as if I could reach in and pull out a handful of its blueness.

And then there is the sun- lights alive with movement- the breath of a baby – in and out– yellow and white, yellow and white. Its warmth slips through the glass and onto the wood floor; patches of warmth stretch and stop without borders.

Did I mention the aspen tree, the one in the corner of the yard, the weed we let grow, now as tall as the house with a yearling tree snuggled safely under its gold paper leaves? It shimmers and shakes in the breezes; light bouncing on and off in an unmeasured tap dance.

I haven’t even mentioned the sounds – the sounds of the wind softly brushing through the long needles of the Austrian Pine trees. If I close my eyes I am lifted away to the mountains where the Lodge Pole Pines creak and bend in the slightest rush of air. Giant pines dancing and groaning – praising and complaining against the forces of life. Is God disappointed in the pine for complaining? Had he hoped it would always and only be a tree full of praise?

Arms extended up, praising open, brave and faithful. Same extended arms, pushing forward, striving, and trying to be brave against the forces of doubt, humiliation, exhaustion and fear, or pushing back against the one who pursues and urges.

The key holder

The map-reader

The voice of truth

I push against the one who seems to push me – wanting something more from me – wanting me to bend.

Weary, I hear my bones groan like the pine tree, bending and groaning against His push.

Can I bend freely, willingly with no words, just spirit sighs praising God for his pushing?

One swift breeze and at last my knee is bent. My cheek rests against the floor – wood sun-warmed. Praise slides down liquid from my eyes- mixing water and wood and sun.

Road to Remember

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Fingers poised on the keyboard, and my mind spins words into sentences. Writing empties my head and heart of things that have yet to be systematically filed away.

Sometimes these loose thoughts and memories seem to be easily accessible – as if they were stacked neatly on a desk ready to be retrieved and read. Other times they seem to hide in the dark shadows– skittish of the light.

My head feels heavy. A game of hide-and-go-seek plays out in the grey matter – bumping into desks of neatly stacked memories – upending once orderly thoughts.

Sitting still, eyes closed, I inhale deeply. I attempt to breathe in peace and breathe out contempt. I’ve been on a journey into my story of fifty-four years and I have returned with both insight and wounds. My heart feels tender and brittle at the same time.

My eyes have changed too – reshaped somehow through the process of seeing things through the dim light of the past. Blind to black and white, I now see things only in hues of grey. My heart beats thick with regret and compassion.

The journey, my tender and brittle heart, it all seem to point to this one word. Love. My story is less bloody than most yet fatal just the same. It is not unique. It is deeply enmeshed in a history of brokenness and shame. And yet, again, the word that pulses out -mingled with blood, red and wet and shining is Love!

I am a victim and a perpetrator – one the same. I have scares from the lashing out of those who were supposed to love me – dare I say, the ones who did and do love me. And in some inexplicable shattered-world dance I have done the same.

A familiar voice in my head whispers words of hopelessness and defeat, but love is the shield that deflects its venom.

Love, it does not change my story nor does it ask me to sweep the carnage under the rug. It calls me to look and listen and explore. It walks beside me as I search the rubble and taste the pain and guides me deep inside my own heart where only through the miracle of grace I can see my own depravity.

And so, I rest and ponder the journey. Soon I will begin again on the road to Remember, in search of a greater understanding of the thing that drives me forward. Love.

Periwinkle and Storms

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Quiet Sunday afternoon, I sit legs stretched out on the window seat in my bedroom and watch the storm clouds build over the mountains. The sky, that is still visible between the clouds, is periwinkle blue. I stop and take a picture before it magically turns to grey.

Low rumblings of thunder echo from the north, I think, and the breeze makes the leaves on the aspen trees shimmer sunlight and shade. It smells like rain and wet dirt – A perfect description of my fickle heart – measuring things on some invisible scale as good or bad.  Have I judged too quickly?

Have I forgotten? The rain feeds the field and forest fires birth new trees. I have seen God redeem shattered things and bring life to dried bones I have buried as dead.

I look up again at the sky and the periwinkle is gone, the clouds have won. I stop and inhale deep, the air thick and sweet with rain yet dropped. The thunder has moved closer and the wind is now rushing through the leaves, it sounds like the sea rolling to shore.

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And I wonder, is this the sound of God? Isn’t he the breeze that makes the leaves chime delightful melodies and the wind that pushes the waves to shore?

I lift my eyes to the heavens, hands wide open to receive the storm and his power overcomes me with delight.

It begins to rain.

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power…” Nahum 1:3a 

My Cornish Miner

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The sky is the color of a blue jay’s feather, blue and light grey with white on the fringes. The air is cool and damp and I hear a bird symphony in the distance.

A young brown hare sits very still about two yards from me, trying to be invisible, as she quietly eats the spring greens that are abundant in the fields today.

It is easy to come out into the fields in spring – easy to feel joy in this season of new beginnings and renewed promises. It is easy to welcome warm breezes and days where the sun pauses longer in the sky, before retiring for the night.

I find myself taking deeper breaths and my muscles relaxing as I sit on the wood bench my grandfather placed under the cottonwood tree – at the edge of the coriander fields – a near century ago. A hundred years of days of peace and pain have left it weathered smooth. I can see him resting here in the deep curve in the middle, I imagine him quiet and contemplative, eyes closed and heart open.

I used to think I found God alone – as I searched the night skies from my bedroom window in my five-year-old self and asked him to show up. In five-year-old logic I begged him to tell me if he was real or not. My prayers, more like wishes, set out fleeces and asked for miracles. If he answered them, I do not remember, but I do remember I continued to watch and ask the night skies to grant my wishes with falling stars.

Many nights my prayers were wrapped in fears too big for my years, my room a haven from pain too deep to answer when it knocked at my door. Those nights my prayers dropped on the windowsill in tiny splashes. I didn’t hear from God, at least not in words or actions that matched my pleas, but as I sit on the bench I know he heard and moved on my behalf. A hundred years is not so very long when looking back from the bench.

My grandfather was a great man of faith. He was tall and had a broad chest, a Cornish man in a long line of Cornish miners who spent days persuading gold out of hard rocks deep in caves. He was born and grew wise and faithful in the cold thin air of the Rocky Mountains. He learned to coax love and grace out of hard life the way his father coaxed gold from the rocks.

He never spoke of our life down in the valley or the veil that wrapped our home in darkness, but I know without knowing that he prayed.

The sun, now high in the sky, covers me in damp warmth. The hare has wandered off and the symphony paused at the midday fermata.

My prayers once again come in the form of tears, but today they are vessels of gratefulness. My faithful Cornish grandfather’s prayers were springs of living water – flowing down the mountains to this valley and the fields of coriander. Spring and sun awakening his seed from its winter slumber.

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5

As Clear As Yesterday

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I see her wrestling the wet, clean sheets in the brisk Colorado winds as she pins then to the clothesline. She smelled like sunshine.

Today memories of my mom fill my heart and puddle in my eyes.

Windows wide open, clean curtains billowing in the breeze along with clean sheets and clothes sun drenched and delicious on the clothesline.  Dinner had a plan – it would not be gourmet but I still shake my head in disbelief that she cooked nearly every single day of the week for months at a time.

My mind’s eye stretches to the far corners of my memory trying to remember my earliest memory of her – she was thin and tidy, usually wearing a dress, often with a tight belt around her tiny waist, clean white sneakers without laces, short, curly brown hair, soft ruddy checks and always lip stick – always! She never left the house without “putting on her face”, something I say now without thinking about it.

The house was always clean (really, I am serious) and the windows open, at least part of the day, unless it was snowing – sometimes even then. I learned to love and appreciate simple things like flowing curtains in open windows. I feel lucky to know the way the sun smells and the crispness of sheets dried out on the line.

I love my memories of her curled up on one end of the sofa in her house-dress, bare feet tucked under her and a paperback book resting on the pillow on her lap. Somehow she managed to get the house clean, laundry hung out to dry, dinner planned and meat thawing and still have time to spend what seemed to be most of the day reading.  For some reason most of my memories are stuck in summer, and Christmas. I don’t think I have one memory of her on a grey day.

She had a great sense of humor and a knack for fibbing – but I will get back to that at another time.

She had some funny ways too, much to our chagrin – declaring every first day of summer break,” Spring cleaning day!”, which involved washing walls and ceilings, washing curtains, drapes, windows and screens, carpet cleaning, oven and refrigerator cleaning, every linen washed and hung to dry– cleaning, cleaning, cleaning – every nook and cranny of the house. Thank God the house was not that big!  I don’t know how she had the energy to tackle it all on one or maybe two days, but we all pitched in. Sometimes our friends joined in as well – strangely – because for some strange reason it was fun.

At the end of this overhaul we would all climb up on the green crushed velvet sofa, that had been pushed into the kitchen along with all the other living room furniture while the carpet dried and drink ice tea. This time invariably became giggle time – exhausted giggles because everything seems funny when you are that physically tired.

I sit here thinking about her and these days – I am sure I have added and subtracted from the actual facts of the events. How I can have fond memories of spring-cleaning is a mystery – it must have something to do with her. I miss her every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hosanna is here and in the highest

ὡσαννά “Let all the angels in heaven join the song of praise. Salvation! Salvation! Let the highest heaven sing the song!” “Hosanna in the highest!”

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?, say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! “Blessed is the coming kingdom of your father David! “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” Mark 11:1-11

I sit here, eyes closed, trying to imagine the scene above. My minds-eye puts me along side the crowd as I join the cry, “ Hosanna! Hosanna!”

There I stand on the side of that dusty road watching as Jesus rides by on the unbroken colt. Caught up in the ceremony of hope I lay my bouquet of coriander down before him in the street and join the chanting, “Hosanna! Save me!” Save me from the fear that grips at my gut, save me from the worries of the day, save me from my hidden habits, save me from the evil that not so silently hovers over, save me from my doubt!

Do I realize he has come to redeem so much more than my now and my immediate future? Do I comprehend that he has come to be King Everlasting? Can I take it in that he is the incarnate God – my eternal redemption and hope?

Do I cry for help or sing praises to my redeemer? Hosanna! Is my trust rooted in the kingdom that is ushered in on the back of a colt?

Jesus is the incarnate God- He was, He is, and He always will be. He meets me as my work-dirty hands place my wilted offering before him- and it is there that he meets me as I cry out, “Hosanna, save me!”

He meets me in those quiet times when my fears and doubts have been laid to rest by grace. He meets me when I sing out, “Hosanna in the Highest,  I am overcome with the joy of your salvation.”

When I come into the fields of coriander – whether in doubt or faith he is there, he patiently accepts me whether my faith harvest is plenty or withered. He sits beside me and his words of grace gently mend the tattered rips of my divided heart.

Psalm 86:11

“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

 

 

Pocket Change

I had a vision the other day when I was at church for our weekly staff meeting. We concluded our meeting with prayer and as I bowed my head, there in the room with 12 people I have yet to feel completely comfortable with, I had a vision.

I have been part of this staff team for about 5 months now and it is still somewhat hard for me to walk through the door and sit down. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the group; they are all wonderful, dedicated, and authentically passionate about their ministries. I think perhaps the problem is me.

I can’t quite make myself comfortable there and I am not exactly sure why. I just can’t seem to get my feet underneath me, but at the same time, I can’t shake the feeling that I am supposed to be there regardless of how it feels.

So, there along with the other team members, I bowed my head and began to listen to those around me praying. Within a few seconds their voices faded away and then I saw myself- I was just a child in a large worn sweater, standing before my Father.

Without thought, I dug at the seam at the bottom of my deep pocket. I could feel the cool metal of what felt like coins and began to gather them up into my small hands. Once I had gathered all there was at the bottom of my pocket I pulled out a fist full of change, pennies mostly and a few nickels and dimes.

Trembling, I poured the coins into his large hand.

A few seconds later I was keenly aware of the sound of my tears dropping on the table before me, and the vision was gone.

The prayer was over. I quickly wiped my eyes and hoped that no one had noticed that I had been crying. A few minutes later I slipped down the stair, and out the front door.

Once outside I began to repeat the scene to myself: I was a little girl, with deep pockets and a few insignificant coins.

I stopped cold. Is that what I have to offer here in this team, a few coins, pennies and nickels? Is that why I am so uncomfortable in this group?  Do I feel like my offering is so small and insignificant?

Then my heart heard his voice – your motives are pure – it isn’t about the value of your gift – it’s about your heart.  Your motives are pure – you searched for every last coin – you didn’t hold back.

Tears streamed down my cheeks again – this time more freely – I do want to give everything I have, I am not holding back – but I thought I had more to give – is this really the only thing I have to offer?

He spoke kindly, “I can make your pennies and nickels into whatever I need.  I will turn them into what is needed for the team. You do not know what is needed – I do. Give what you have to give, without hesitation. Dig deep into your pockets and give generously of what I have given you to give. Don’t question it. Don’t despise it. Trust Me.”

I am incurably hopeful when it comes to my potential.

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Sometimes I feel like the slowest maturing human being on earth – not only spiritually, but also emotionally (if you can separate the two).

Thankfully, I am a learner, be it ever so slowly, and I have something that I think is perhaps unusual- I believe in the core of my being that God is still growing me up into something lovely. I am incurably hopeful when it comes to my potential.

This morning I woke up, opened the blinds in my bedroom and let the sun flow in. It is cold out, but somehow the sun still made me feel warm inside.  Crawling back into my bed, I covered up in my favorite blanket and sat cross-legged, eyes closed, head back –taking in the sun and clearing my head of sleep.

I began to pray, “Lord, thank you, I love you, help me to love you more.” With each word colors swirled in my head.  Each thought painted in different colors and different strokes. With one stroke the paint was dark and deep and with the next pass of the wet brush the colors thinned into pastels. What first was a defined line became a vague change from blue to green or red to pink. Fascinated, I continued to whisper my love and hopes and dreams to God and as I did the breathtaking beauty danced in the eyes of my heart.

After quite a while I began to notice the room come into focus again, the sun, my blanket… and the visions of colors faded away, but something remained, a sense, a feeling, a thought that perhaps God was still hopeful about my potential too.

I don’t know what is in store for my future. I know some things in life have passed and will not return. My children are grown and in six months my youngest will be off to college. I realize that what is ahead is not going to be a repeat of what I am leaving behind, and there is some sadness in that, but there is excitement too. As I slowly mature and learn and grow I know there is more to learn and I am eager to take it one step at a time, be it ever so slowly. I watch with eager expectation as God continues to paint his love all over my life. May the hard deep lines of my character soften and the dark colors of fear and control become soft pastels.

He is so kind and patient- this God of mine- and his mercies new every morning.  I pray that I may I be more and more like him every day.

 

 

 

 

 

Hosanna

cropped-edit12.jpgHere is a repost from last year.

ὡσαννά “Let all the angels in heaven join the song of praise. Salvation! Salvation! Let the highest heaven sing the song!” “Hosanna in the highest!”

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?, say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! “Blessed is the coming kingdom of your father David! “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” Mark 11:1-11

I sit here, eyes closed, trying to imagine the scene above. My minds-eye puts me along side the crowd as I join the cry, “ Hosanna! Hosanna!”

There I stand on the side of that dusty road watching as Jesus rides by on the unbroken colt. Caught up in the ceremony of hope I lay my bouquet of coriander down before him in the street and join the chanting, “Hosanna- save me!” Save me from the fear that grips at my gut, save me from the stresses of the day, save me from my hidden habits, save me from the evil that not so silently hovers over, save me from my doubt!

Do I realize he has come to redeem so much more than my now and my immediate future? Do I comprehend that he has come to be King Everlasting? Can I take it in that he is the incarnate God -my eternal redemption and hope?

Do I cry for help or sing praises to my redeemer? “Hosanna”, is my trust rooted in the kingdom that is ushered in on the back of a colt?

Jesus is the incarnate God- He was, He is, and He always will be. He meets me as my work-dirty hands place my wilted offering before him- and it is there that he meets me as I cry out, “Hosanna- save me!”

He meets me in those quiet times when my fears and doubts have been laid to rest by grace. He meets me when I sing out, “Hosanna in the Highest I am overcome with the joy of your salvation.”

When I come into the fields of coriander- whether in doubt or faith he is there. He patiently accepts me whether my faith harvest is plenty or withered. He sits beside me and his words of grace gently mend the tattered rips of my divided heart.

Psalm 86:11

“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”