Sunday, January 27, 2013

His Story

It seems that my pattern for this blogging thing has been to ponder something for a good while - let it churn long enough in my brain -  then release it into written words.  I am not good at writing frequently it seems.  Anyway, there has been something that has been churning in my head, and I thought it time to put it down in writing. :)

His Story

I have been struck with a deep sense of the fact that my life - our lives - history - all of creation belongs to God.  He is the Author.  Many feel a deep sense of frustration or dissatisfaction that things aren't the way they wish it to be.  There is a sense that "God is mean" or "God is uncaring" or even "there is no God" because we can't seem to wrap our brains around the fact that we are the created.  How many times have we picked up a novel only to be completely dismayed that the author ended it that way or that our favorite character somehow disappoints us along the way?  On a deeper level, what of the characters in the book? Do they somehow rise up off the page and shake their ink fists at the author and demand the story to be written differently?  I heard it described once that we shake our "dust fists" at God when things do not go as we desire.  Really the notion of that is preposterous; that the characters in a story can demand that it be written differently.  While it would have been so much less sacrificial for God to create us without free will, He chose to give us the opportunity to choose Him.  To choose to submit to His ways.  He has written us a love story (the Bible) to depict how He feels about us and how submitting to His ways brings us peace that passes understanding and joy that is felt even in the midst of extreme hardship.  In the end, He will have His way whether we agree with it or not.  You may think that is wrong, mean, or uncaring; it is your free will to do so.  But, is His Story.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Joy in the Pruning

It was a work day for us yesterday.  We were busy with taking loads of brush to the city brush disposal and junk to the landfill that has been piling up waiting for an opportunity to get loaded into our "borrowed for the day" trailer.  I love getting rid of stuff like that.  I also gave my Japanese Flowering Shrub a much needed haircut.  Ah....that felt good too.  This year my bush flowered like never before.  It almost looked like it was ablaze as its little coral-colored flowers screamed beauty beneath the rich foliage.  Joy.  Seeing things return after a long winter (albeit not as long as previous winters) is such an amazing thing to witness.

Anyway, the bush. Blossoms done, branches looking long and scraggly, it was time for the annual trim.  Tools in hand, I set out to work.  It gives me such pleasure to shape this bush.  I couldn't help but marvel at how lush this bush has gotten in the 5 years that I have been tending to it.  My mind likes to wander as I am doing tasks such as this, and I found myself thinking about the scripture in John 15 that talks about this sort of thing.  Branches, vines, pruning, bearing fruit. I began thinking about how important it is that we prune.  With my beautiful bush, it has allowed for a harvest of coral blossoms like I never even imagined.

In my life, abiding in Christ and God's pruning is the only way that I will bear fruit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22).  As I was snipping off branches, I began to consider what I know God has pruned from my life.  There have been things, some painful, some not so much. But, I thought about the purpose.  So that I will bear fruit.  So that I am shaped into what I was intended for.  I thought about the fact that as I am trimming away, I am not doing it to be hurtful to the bush.  On the contrary.  It is so that it succeeds at being the best bush it can be.  Come next spring, I will prune again.  And so too it is with me. My Father knows when it is time to trim up the scraggly ends of my life, when more shaping needs to happen.  And, I wonder if the joy I feel trimming away, shaping, nurturing this little bush is echoing the joy that my Father feels as He shapes me for His glory.  Hmmm......good things to ponder.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


It has been too long since I have last written anything. Life has become such a complication of things - complex in its highs and lows. I have found that I could never have predicted what has come my way, not in a million years. I have been graciously spared the horrible effects of a disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease. This fall I was contacted by a sibling on my father's side (one that I was vaguely aware of, so you can imagine all of the emotions surrounding this encounter). In a short period of time, I was made aware that I have 15 siblings on this side of my DNA. Almost too much to comprehend. The weeks that surrounded this encounter were filled with a great deal of emotion. As I researched what this horrible disease does, fears filled my every cavity. It was such a strange juxtaposition because fear was side-by-side with my faith that God is definitely in control - no matter the outcome. They can and do exist simultaneously some times - fear and faith.

Anyway, I had to undergo testing that involved a blood test to determine how my kidneys were functioning and an ultrasound of my kidneys. Of course, these two things couldn't happen on the same day, so I waited about 3 days in between. Torture. But, finally, relief. I was given a clean bill of health. I am so grateful that I do not pass this horrible disease on to my children. Thoughts of them and how this would impact them haunted me into the wee hours of the morning. Nights were incredibly difficult. Suffice it to say, I am glad that is over. I am grateful that both William and I have been spared. My brother had to endure the same array of emotions over the several weeks, and I could hear the fear in his voice and the strain of the "what if's". We both give God the glory that He spared us of this!

With THAT out of the way, my mind could clear and concentrate on the enormity of what had opened to us. 15 siblings. Wow! It seemed that each day in the weeks that followed, I would have a friend request on Facebook of a new relation. I never thought that I would know them. I knew they could be out there, but since Mom's death really believed that door was closed. And, I was ok with that. I had come to terms with that several years ago when I had tried searching for information on my father and hit road block after road block. I had the overwhelming sense that some doors are better left closed. And closed it remained until September 2011.

This Christmas (December 28th) William and I and our spouses had the opportunity to meet my sister Marilyn and her daughter and son-in-law. I had spoken with Marilyn once on the phone to discuss a plan to meet and then on Facebook back and forth. But, I can't explain the feeling of joy that I had when she came around the corner at the restaurant, huge smile on her face. My heart melted, my fears subsided. I liked her instantly. Her daughter and son-in-law couldn't have been kinder. We had a great visit, in spite of some very painful information about our father and brother. I am still grappling with what was said that night.

All this to say that I trust in God's timing. I didn't ask for this door to be open. But it is. Time will tell if I will fully understand why it is open. I have a big heart and already love those that I have met. So, I close with how I started this blog: life is complex - both in its highs and in its lows.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Happy To Be Me: A Tiny Tale" by Tina Westman

It was a sweltering hot day in the meadow. Even the insects were seeking respite from the heat under leaves and in the shade of swishing Weeping Willow trees. The Willows lined the edge of a pond that was nestled in the center of the meadow. The pond was alive with the sights and sounds of frogs leaping to and fro, turtles peaking their faces above the surface for air, and fish leaping to catch an unsuspecting water spider. A seemingly perfect mid-summer day.

Seemingly perfect to the average onlooker. However, a very imperfect day indeed for Cherri
(pronouced Ch eh ri`), a tiny Barn Swallow, who found herself perched on a branch of a Willow Tree.

"Oh dear, oh dear" she exclaimed as she looked at her wings, most dissatisfied. As she sat on the branch, she could hear the laughter and singing of her friends soaring around her.

"Cherri, come on!" they cheered and laughed. "Don't just sit there all day, let's play!"

Swooping and spinning, her friends flew through the air without a care in the world. There were birds of all kinds - Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Blue Jays, and Cardinals to name a few. They filled the sky with brilliant colors and beautiful melodies, all flying and enjoying the endless summer sky.

"Oh, I can't" she whispered to herself. "I am so plain. My wings are not colored, my feathers not fair. I'm sure I can't fly as far or as fast nor can I sing such a beautiful tune. I just can't."

And so she remained on the branch, tossing gently back and forth in the breeze and feeling more and more despairing as the day wore on.

Her wings ached to soar through the air but her heart sank as she watched her beautiful friends. She could not compare to the brilliant red Cardinal that raced past or the dazzling green Hummingbird that could jut from spot to spot.

"Why am I me? I wish I were she!" she fretted and sulked.

After some time, as Cherri was sitting gloomily, a gentle thud rocked the branch. Cherri picked up her head and saw that an Owl had landed on the branch a few feet away.

"Hello!" a voice boomed, startling Cherri out of her thoughts.

"Hello" she replied sheepishly.

"Why are you looking so glum?" the Owl asked.

"Oh, I don't know" she said with a sigh.

"Hmmmm...." said the Owl, peering at her with a blazing gaze.

Cherri couldn't help but notice how beautiful the Owl was. A brilliant white chest nestled between strong beautiful wings. His eyes were the color of the sun, and he could careen his neck nearly all the way around.

"Wow", she thought to herself, "I really feel so plain". She sunk her head low at the thought and decided she best keep to herself.

The two remained silent for some time as they rode the branch - up and down, side to side, in the rhythm of the wind. Cherri watched her friends soaring through the air, laughing and singing, and as she watched, the sadness in her eyes grew.

"What is it that brings you such sadness, Little One?"asked the Owl. The gentleness in his voice caused Cherri to look up and into his beautiful eyes.

"Well", she said pausing "I, ...I,....I am not like them. (pointing her wing to her friends in the air). I have no special colors on my wings. I have no special song in my voice. I.....I am so plain." With that, a tear fell from her eye to her beak and down... down... down to the grass below.

"I see", said the Owl, thoughtfully. "And, what may I ask, makes them special?"

"Well, I think that it would be splendid to have beautiful red feathers, or yellow or blue! Why, how grand it would be to be able to sing like a Lark? Oh, if only I wasn't me!"

"Tell me, Little One, what is it like to be you?" inquired the Owl.

Cherri paused, a little surprised at the question. She wasn't sure how to answer, so she sat for a moment thoughtfully.

"Well, I am not like them" she stated matter-of-factly (slightly annoyed by the question).

"Yes, I am aware of that" answered Owl, patiently. "You have told me what you are not, but you haven't said what you are." "What is it like to be you?" he asked again, with gentleness in his tone.

"Um....I", she hesitated.

"You are so delicate" interrupted the Owl. "It must make flying swift."

"Well....yes....I suppose it does." Cherri answered, considering deeply what the Owl was saying.

"And, your wings are so shiny and dark. I would imagine they reflect the light of the sun quite nicely" he commented.

"I guess that is true" Cherri agreed, beginning to feel her spirits lifting a bit. "I do like the way my wings sparkle when I turn in the light" she said more confidently.

"The shape of your feathers makes me think that you fly with great speed and agility" the Owl kindly stated.

"Oh, I can fly really fast. And, just like that I can turn and go this way and that!" Cherri responded enthusiastically. "Want to see me?" she asked excitedly.

"Oh, Yes, I would love to see!" answered the Owl.

And with that, Cherri left the branch and soared through the air. The feeling of the wind beneath her feathers was exhilarating as she gained speed. She laughed as she reached maximum speed, tipped her head down, and launched herself toward the ground. Just before she reached the grass, she raised her head up and just like that she shot upward, then to the left, then to the right. She spun in the air watching the sun reflect off of her wings, shining and dazzling. She laughed so hard that she thought she would run out of breath. Eyeing the branch that she had shared with the Owl, she made her ascent and sat down once again. Slightly breathless, but ever so fulfilled.

"Did you see me?" she asked in between breaths.

"Oh yes, and it was spectacular!" exclaimed the Owl.

"It was?" asked Cherri, slightly in disbelief.

"It was indeed. For you see, I did not see any other birds that looked exactly as you did. You are unique. Your wings shine like none of theirs, and they are not able to move as swiftly as you. You must be very happy to be you" the Owl said, quite assuredly.

Cherri pondered that for a moment and remembered the feeling of the wind in her wings. She remembered the thrill of turning left and right and the dazzle of her wings in the sun. It was in that moment that she realized that she really did like being her. While she knew that she did not have feathers of red, blue or gold, she loved the way hers glistened and shimmered in the sun. While she did not have the same melodious songs to sing, she quite enjoyed the laughter that erupted from her throat as she twisted and turned in the wind.

"Yes......yes I am very happy to be me" Cherri sung as she launched herself off of the branch. "I am very happy to be me indeed!"

The End

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wow - I am not sure where time has gone. The last several months have been filled with lots of things. Sadness and loss, joy and accomplishment, and celebrations of new beginnings. I have missed writing!

March was a sad month. We said goodbye to a family member who has always been a part of my life. My brother-in-law Jerome left us quite suddenly and much to all of our dismay. He was such a gentle, quiet, good-humored man. We are all missing him very much - I can't imagine the emptiness it has left for his wife, my sister Jeanette. My heart aches for his children, Jessica and Josh and for his grandchild, Josie as I know the pain of unfulfilled expectations of time spent together. We wish you were still with us, Jerome!

It was also sad because we moved our dear friends further away then I imagined. The move marked an end to a time that was filled with wonderful togetherness, gratitude and joy. Our spontaneous get-togethers and spur of the moment "movie nights" were now replaced with thought-out plans and intentional gatherings. Still sprinkled with gratitude but marked with the sense that life would not ever be the same. A few months later we moved these dear friends again, now to a permenant situation, now to the reality that life truly has changed. The sting of events past somehow softened by the hope of the future, we celebrate new beginnings together. The joy of friendships that transcend time and events can not be explained. We have laughed, cried, felt frightened, experienced excitment, felt angry -together - And all has only bound these friendships tighter together. So, on to new times our dear old friends!

These days of late have left me with a haunting sense that life is not what we imagine it will be, not always. It has twists and turns that surprise, delight, and even devastate at times. It has shown me that pain teaches our hearts to experience joy with abandon, if we allow it. It has also shown me that while we have such little control over the ebb and flow of life, we can trust God. He has complete control. He is good. Regardless of circumstances, His love never changes toward us. We may feel confused about the "why's" and "how's", but when we understand that His will is NEVER evil, we can let go of it. We can lay our broken and bruised hearts at His feet and He tenderly binds them up in His time. One of my favorite songs right now, by David Crowder says it so beautifully. Click here to listen to it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Have Begun

In my last post, "It Is Finished", I wrote about the complete work of the cross. And, it is complete. Christ took on the sins of the world in order that we could be reunited with God. Sin separates us from relationship with God because God is a perfect, holy God. We cannot come into His presence without a sacrifice for our sins being made. And, the Law specifies that blood must be shed in order for sins to be removed. Christ's death on the cross satisfies the Law and pays the penalty that we owe. It is the ultimate gift from God to humanity.

Does this mean that everyone was justified automatically, brought into a relationship with God at that moment of Christ's death? The answer is no. The work of the cross was complete, but it revealed a door to salvation. The door is a gift. Like any gift, the gift must be received. We must receive the gift of salvation that Christ has offered to us by the work that He completed on the cross and open the door to our salvation. Have you opened the door? Do you want to know how to open the door?

1. Acknowledge that you are in need of saving and that you know that you cannot come into God's presence without the penalty of your sins paid.

2. Acknowledge that you believe that Jesus is the Savior, the One who has paid this penalty by dying on the cross, once and for all, the Son of God.

3. Accept the gift for yourself believing that upon taking the gift, you are a new person, born again into God's eternal family.

4. Thank God for providing a way for you to be reunited to Him and for the ways that He will reveal Himself to you as you go from this day forward as a Child of God.

5. Get involved in a local church that teaches from the Bible. Connect with others who profess that Christ is their Savior and grow in your knowledge and understanding of God.

Now, as you go from here, you can say too, "I have begun". Welcome to the journey!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

It Is Finished

"It is finished". Ah, those words can bring relief. I think of many situations in which "it is finished" marks an end to something long, laborious or difficult. In most recent history, we have said "it is finished" to 2009. This completion was celebrated by most with an exuberant countdown marked with a renewed sense of anticipation and excitement for something good to come. We usually approach the end of a year with a time of reflecting on our successes and failures and hopes and dreams for what the next year may hold.

Graduation is another moment in time when the completion of something lends itself to the anticipation of something good. The labor of education is over, complete, finished. Walking across the platform with right hand extended to receive that piece of paper that proclaims "it is finished" creates an upsurge of joy that can fill your heart. Suddenly all of the work that went into that diploma is replaced with a sense of accomplishment and promise of something great to come.

Likewise, I can remember after the very long and difficult birth of my son, repeating the words, "it's done, it's finished" over and over again. It was in that moment that the completion of nearly 10 months of pregnancy had culminated to this incredible pinnacle of time that held both great relief and great anticipation. Yes, it was finished....and yet it had just begun.

While all of these things can have great significance in our lives, there is nothing that compares to the moment in time when Christ uttered the very words "it is finished" from the cross. In that exact moment in time, Christ took all of history, all of the very present, and all of the future and completed the transaction needed to save the world from sin, once and for all. I have heard some say that they feel as though they are heaping more sin on Christ's head when they sin. To this I most heartily disagree. While I believe it grieves the Lord when we sin, I also believe that when He said, "it is finished", there was nothing more that needed to be done. He did not say "it is finished for now", or "it is finished for awhile". The task of taking my sin (all of my sin), your sin (all of it) and the sin of the world (all of it) was complete.

And not unlike the previous examples, I can't help but imagine the great sense of anticipation and promise that came with those very words. In that moment when the veil was torn and the ground heaved in a violent sigh of relief, creation knew that the finishing work of salvation was complete. And, because of this, I now have a choice.

Because He said, "it is finished", I can now say, "I have begun".