Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Buried Treasure

June 25, 2011
Isaiah 40:31
Buried deep where no one can see. Covered over with six feet of earth. Grass grows. Birds come to sit. Quietly hidden, deep within. Painful times one can hardly bear, laid to rest. Lying still. Jewels tucked inside. Terribly beautiful jewels. The pain is so raw, I cannot bear it. The emotions so strong, it is frightening. Loneliness, heartbreak and fear. My feet are planted. I cannot move. But if I don't, the pain will consume me. Tomorrow threatens to come.

No one truly sees. The world does not know. The world lies. But God does not lie. From the bottom of the sea, inside the belly of a whale, Jonah prayed. "In my distress I called to the LORD and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry."
One way or another, I will walk among the living. So I close the door to my heart. Put joy on the outside.

Gather the treasures. The ones that sparkle and the ones that tear me in two. The ones that bring laughter and the ones that bring tears. And when the tears come, gather them too. Don't try to stop them. Let them fall. Feel the pain and lay that too in beside the grief. Grief that doesn't end with the passing of time. Rather the passing of time allows the grief to become part of who I am. Tucked in along with peace and strength. They grow together.

Five years. The world says the time for grief has passed. That I can't grieve and find new happiness at the same time. The world lies. Time is ripped from my hands as days are ripped from the calendar. Pages fly. A day, a week, a year. Time flies. Five is so long and twenty five is way too short. Twenty five years of love and joy, hopes and dreams, success and failure. Twenty five years does not 'nicely fit' into the time the world allows for grief.

So it goes in the box. The treasure chest. Buried. Only to be opened when a memory invites itself. Driving across town, traffic is stopped for a hearst and the procession of loved ones that follow close behind. Suddenly, unexpected, and uninvited. It comes like a waterfall. The weight is heavy. Crushing. It takes me to my knees and I feel it again. I am there in the middle of this ocean and I can't even breathe. I feel it-all of it. I choose to feel it and not push it away. Because that's all that is left. Let it come, remember till it hurts- and never forget.

I know now what I didn't know then. The pain of remembering keeps him alive. I wipe my face. I am OK. I close the lid once again. I bury the treasure deep in my heart. And I realize the pain of remembering keeps me alive.
God sees my heart. He sees the depth of my pain. He hears. He knows. He comes close to my broken heart and heals it. And He promises, "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, who summons you by name."  Is.45:3



Friday, May 8, 2015

Tribute to Fritz

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 
Proverbs 4:18.

Is it OK if I just ramble a little bit this morning? Today is my birthday and I have so much to celebrate! I am so thankful for all God has shown me and the path that He has lead me down. Heart aches and all. 
Last night I got a facebook message from a sweet young lady who became part of our family as a teenager. She was always one of the kids' favorite babysitters and attended every youth group event and mission trip we ever took. When Kathryn was in kindergarten we were planning a party for her 6th birthday. Guess who was tops on the guest list....Keri (who was 18 at the time). Now the two of them share an alma mater as graduates of Radford University.
Keri is now married with two girls of her own and is a school teacher at Farmington Elementary School in Culpeper. This is the same school where Fritz taught for several years before going into youth ministry. (Same school where Fritz taught Nancy's son Brian when he was in the 6th grade. And the same school where Sharon taught before leaving teaching to pursue another path.)
So when Keri sent me a link to the newspaper article that featured her story of becoming 'teacher of the year' my heart leaped for joy. And I was so blessed to read her words giving tribute to Fritz. His birthday falls on Mother's Day this year. I can't wait to share this story with his mom and dad who will certainly be blessed as well. They knew Keri like a grand-daughter. 
His life lives on, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
We continue down the path of life even when its hard, knowing we can place our hope and trust in the Light of world and we will not walk in darkness but in the light of life. 
Let your eyes look straight ahead, 
fix your gaze directly before you. 
Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.


Proverbs 4:25,26

Sunday, April 27, 2014

God's Love Reaches

Ann Voscamp once said in her book 1000 Gifts, 'Why all this running?' Of course that question got my attention. She didn't literally mean running. She meant running around. Running from. Running to. She was asking herself where is satisfaction in life- why always running for more, for better? What do you run from? Who do you run to? My mind immediately went to all the miles my legs have logged. Why do I do it?
Because I can.
But mostly because that is when I hear God speak to me.
More and more so in recent years I spend much of my time alone. Not by choice. My challenge in this season of my life is to not allow loneliness into my head. God has called me into this place of being alone, but it is the devil who invites loneliness to come along. I am learning the way to victory in this struggle is in giving thanks, all the time, for all things. One of the ways I am learning this 'eucharisteo' thanks is through the running.
The sun has warmed the air of spring. New life is coloring the world around me as winter waves goodbye. I am excited to run and become part of the landscape- to see and hear, to smell, to breathe deep- and thank God who does all this. So I run through neighborhood streets, past Tulips and Daffodils, past dogs barking from backyards, across the highway lined with fields, fences and tall grass. Geese flying home. Deer grazing by the edge of the woods. I turn at the brown sign announcing the entrance to the Civil War Battlefield. The road is narrow and peaceful, winding down and around and up again. Deeper into the woods, across the creek. Only the sound of the breeze blowing in the tops of the trees.
I am alone...but loneliness did not come with me. I pray-"God will you speak to my heart? And help me to listen so I will hear you. And help me to look so I will see you." I look for Honeysuckle. It is tangled and twisted along the side of the road. Fragrance is bottled behind the blooms that have not yet burst. White Dogwood blossoms are sprinkled along the road and far into the woods. No wonder they are named the state flower of Virginia.  A long time ago the wood of the Dogwood tree grew straight, strong and tall but as the legend goes, their trunk is now gnarled and twisted. Some say the Dogwood was used to make the cross that Jesus hung on. Who knows if that is true but it is interesting to think of the symbolism associated with the Dogwood Tree. If you look closely at the pure white flower you can't help notice it is shaped like a cross, with a crown in the center. At the ends of the cross beam, where the nails would have held Jesus' hands, are small holes in the petals, with a drop of red dripping. Almost looks like it tore, by mistake, and then you realize every single blossom is like that, torn. Dripping. Every single one. No mistake.
It's perfect. God's simple design in the flower of a tree to symbolize the beauty of the King reaching out to me. To the world. Good Friday has passed. Resurrection Day has passed. God has a story to tell.
The blossoms are high in the trees. It's difficult for me to see the detail of the flowers as they reach for the sun. My eyes follow the small branches, winding around and through oaks and maples and weeds, looking for the trunk of the tree.The branches are long, they bend and twist. The trunk of the tree is nestled in the leaves, far away from the edge of the road, among much bigger trees. The trunk is firmly planted, roots growing deep into the ground, giving life to those beautiful blossoms that have grown toward the sun. Blossoms that have grown toward the SON. God's love reaches me.
I see it clear. From the dark place, deep in the woods, into the light. His love reaches. His love IS THE LIGHT. The white blossom at the end of the long branch tells the story of the One who is the Light of the World. It tells of the vine and the branches. The one who does not remain in the vine bears no fruit. We, like the blossoms of the Dogwood have a story to tell.
God's love reaches for me. I see Him. I hear Him. His voice is the only sound. He reaches me and I am not alone. God reaches through the trees in the forest. He reaches into dark places in our life. He reaches across oceans. Across time. Across hurts and failures and cross words. He reaches into brokenness. And brings healing. Beauty. Light. New Life.
I find a branch that is hanging low. I pinch off a twig with two day old blossoms. I carry it with me as I run all the way home. I place it in the vase on the table, empty ready to fill.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Looking Through the Window

   I sat down yesterday morning to think about this naming of gifts. So simple, yet so full. So much harder than I thought it would be. It's really not hard, I just make it hard. I don't want to name the simple, I want to name the miraculous, but I don't see it. I look around the room and try to name gifts. Things? Gifts from others? People? The quiet? Nothing seems like gift until I begin to name. Then all is gift. It seems silly to write down the things right in front of me. I try to name something meaningful and significant and I end up trying to remember yesterday's gifts and God tells me, "No, learn to name the gift of right now. And do it right now." I think I shouldn't bother with the every day stuff that happens over and over. The simple. And then I know, it is in this simple naming- everyday, all day, right now, that I will find the miracle. Somehow the miracle of the unexpected is right here- in the right now. The grace-joy-thanks miracle. It is this learning eucharisteo that brings the miracle.
      I was filling with excitement as I felt His Spirit teaching me, showing me His endless stream of grace, busily scribbling in my thanks journal, naming scriptures, looking for the unexpected in the simple, in the expected. In the every day. Trying to focus on the right -now. Today, not on yesterday. I kept looking. My thanks journal fills with thoughts, some are my own, a scripture, a song, a daily grace to capture feelings, memories, phone calls from loved ones, time spent with friends. There was a scripture on my mind from the day before. I knew it was yesterday's gift but I began writing it down in my thanks journal anyway. The verse simply said, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God.....". Then I saw another, "It is good for our heart to be strengthened by grace....". And then another, "Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise."
       The sky is still dark. I know it will begin to change soon and so I glance up from my notebook. All is black. Stillness. Inside and out. I thank Him. My author friends Sara Young and Ann Voskamp share thoughts, and I write, naming gifts. Every few minutes I look up again to see if the sky has changed. From my seat, I can look through the window and the dark sky looks back at me. Another scripture comes to mind, "The light shines in the darkness but the darkness does not overcome it." and I keep looking. Waiting, I write some more. Read some more. Just a hint of light showing through. When I watch, nothing changes, but if I look away for a minute, then I see it, growing brighter filling the sky. Breaking of day- like breaking bread. I give thanks for the filling, for my daily bread, broken for me.
        My thoughts were interrupted and, just for a minute, I left the room. When I returned to my chair I looked out the window again. Now I am moved to tears at what I see! It is the unexpected in the expected! In the everyday, in the right now! Joy filled my heart as I witnessed the miracle. The sky was on fire, spilling red across the horizon. It was magnificent! I kept looking, fixing my gaze on it, steady, hoping to spear it through with my eyes. To capture it. But it lasts only for a moment. A miracle of God's love for me. I write it down. Day break. I say thank you.
        Kristin is coming home from California today. Leaving at midnight and flying all night, arriving on the east coast in the morning. I give thanks. I continue reading where I left off. Ann is on her way to Paris to meet a friend. She is naming gifts. The man sitting next to her in the airport plays a gently melody that calms her fears. When she boards the plane the window seat is empty. She is thankful she can at least look out the window. After a long night of flying over the ocean, she rubs the sleep out of her eyes. When she looks out the window she sees it. The miracle- breathtaking breaking of day. Day break. Red sun rising. She names the gift, "sunrise bleeding love up over all the world." I am speechless!! This is crazy love! Endless stream of grace. I close my books. Sit quiet. Amazed by grace. Filled with daily bread. I say thank you.
          But God....is not done yet. I thank Him for MY window seat. I thank Him for sunrise, bleeding love, for breaking of day. I pray for safety for Kristin, flying from west coast to east, arriving at the break of day. She sends a picture along with the message announcing her safe arrival. She is sitting in the window seat looking through the window and she captures a picture, a beautiful picture....of the sunrise. Day break. Amazing how God shows us His grace....every day.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Remember

Today
there is disconnect
and loneliness.
Sadness
that is not expressed
with words.
Thoughts
are our closest friend.
Memories
that haunt us
also comfort us.
Pull back
while hanging on
tightly.
A child's game
of Tug of War
but so much more.
Hang on tight
while letting go.
A time for healing
....but for who?
Peel fingers
off the past
while gripping tight
to here and now.
A glimpse
across the room
and our eyes meet.
I am you.
You are me.
I feel.
I love.
I lost.
As you have too.
Our worlds collide
in that lonely place.
I am with you
and you with me.
You have been
here before.
Each time
you stand tall
with Grace.
Strength.
I learn from you.
For a second
I see into
your eyes.
Your heart.
But only
for a moment.
To look longer
is too painful.
To never see
is to never understand.
To hold your gaze
brings me
into your world
and you
into mine.
To let go
of your gaze
is to let go
of the moment
let go
of the life.
Still bound
but finally free.
Released from the chains
bound by love.
Always.
Love Always.






Monday, November 18, 2013

Waterfall

          Tucked into the side of the hill, deep in the woods, she flows.
She is as much alive as the trees and the animals who make her their home.
 The sun shines on her and she glistens like crystal.  She flows  gently, singing her song as she cascades over the rocks, filling the pools below.
 The music of the rushing water can be heard from far away, calling to the weary traveler
 longing to sit, to marvel, to be amazed, to drink.
There is life in the waterfall.

 She moves, she speaks. She does her work.
 She feeds the hungry. She gives rest to the weary.
She refreshes the soul. She gives life.
There is life in the waterfall.

Life that comes from God himself. The maker of heaven and earth.
The waters roar when He thunders.
When He is quiet....the waterfall is quiet.
Listen for the thunder.
The silence is deafening.
The voice of thunder reminds.
There is life in the waterfall.

          The Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah,
 "My people have committed two sins. They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
 and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water." Jer. 2:13
Broken cisterns. Useless.
 Lifeless.

          'The showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen.' Jer. 3:3
The ground is dry. The rocks are cold and exposed,
 no longer cradled by the
nurturing life giving water.
 It is quiet. Only the snap of a dry twig.
 Dry leaves cover. Gray skies offer no comfort. 
          'God made the earth by his power; He founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.
When He thunders, the waters in the heavens roar.' Jer. 10:12,13
There is life in the waterfall.

Living water flows from heaven
 bringing life to the tired thirsty traveler.
          'Whoever drinks the water I give him
will never thirst.
 Indeed the water I give him will become in him
 a spring of water
welling up to eternal life.' Jn.4:14 
Eternal life.

Come to Me, and rest in My peace.
Relax in the presence of the One who Knows.
Let the Living Water of My Spirit flow.
Let My Spirit give words of grace.
Live in the light of My peace.

The spring rain will come.
The water will flow. The sun will shine and she will glisten.
She will seep into the crevices and canyons,
 pushing through,
carving out a new way, singing a new song.
There is life in the waterfall.

The river of the water of life, as clear as crystal,
flowing from the throne of God.
Behold, I am coming soon!
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the First and the Last,
the Beginning and the End.

Come.
Let him who hears say, come.
Whoever is thirsty,
let him come.
Whoever wishes,
 let him take
the
free gift
of the water
of life.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reflections

Several years ago when Beth Moore was 'my mentor and bible teacher'
I remember learning the Greek word 'ahar'.
Behind and before
all wrapped up into the same word.
Ahar illustrates how God is both at the same time.
Ahead of us and behind us.
The word made a lasting impression on me and it comes to mind once again as I think about a summer of learning about grace.
What in the world is grace?
When I was in high school I quoted from David's 139th psalm for my yearbook picture.
"You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me......where can I go from your Spirit....your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
He has been behind me.
All is grace.
Now I read the words as if I had never seen them before,
"therefore let us come with confidence to the throne of grace
so that we might receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need." Heb. 4:16
Yes, indeed, this is a time of need.
He has promised to go ahead of me.
And He is inviting me to the throne of grace.
Not the throne of righteousness,
not the throne of the saints,
or of the have-it-all-togethers,
those who have no needs, no questions, no fear, or pain,
but the throne of grace- for those who have needs.
For those in need of grace, love, forgiveness.
What is grace?
I am afraid.
I heard a beautiful song. A song of grace sent as a prayer. For me.
          Lead us to a place,
          Guide us with your grace,
          to a place where we'll be safe.
          I pray You'll be our eyes and
          watch us where we go,
          Help us to be wise in times
          when we don't know.
The throne of grace. I hear Him inviting me to come....for times when we don't know.
To help me in my time of need.
I begin to unwrap grace.
I am reading. Praying. Thinking.
God is inviting. Reminding. Speaking to me.
I want to run and hide. I don't know who I am. I am afraid. What is wrong with me?!!
And I hear Him say,
"You are loved."
"You are mine."
He comes close and says, "I don't love you because of what you do. Or don't do. Or did. But because of who you are. You are MY CHILD."
I feel like Eve, wanting to hide,
and God says, "You can trust My love for you."
But what is grace?
What is His grace, but for my time of need.
I don't feel what I think grace should feel like.
I feel lonely
and sad
and afraid
and questioning
who I was
and who I am.
I am emerging from my life
into something new, and I don't know yet what it is.
My time of need.
He hems me in- behind and before.
Today I drive down the road and the morning sun is on the horizon in front of me.
I catch a glimpse of the full moon sitting above the long winding road behind me in my rear view mirror.
He is behind me and before me.
I catch a glimpse of His grace
but I don't see it until I look in the mirror.
Until I look back and remember.
I see the sun
and the moon
at the same time.
It takes my breath away. Beautiful.
Grace.
I remember His presence,
His strength and peace,
His hope.
The power in His Name.
His Grace.
When I remember, I give thanks, for His grace and I begin to trust, to believe.
He continues to teach me.
I drive down the road trusting
and thanking Him for the grace in the rear view mirror.
As I give thanks, it is here at the throne that I realize
all is grace;
what feels good... seems good.... tastes good....
as well as all that does not.
What feels like cursing is good
because God is good
and He is the giver of good gifts,
and we are told to give thanks for all things.
And so we thank Him for bitterness,
and receive the grace of healing.
We thank Him for loneliness,
and we receive the grace of His presence.
We thank Him for grief,
and we receive the grace of resurrection. New life.
Only as I remember and give thanks do I see the grace in the reflection,
and at the same time,
the grace of Him before me.
Continuing down the road, God turned my face toward His and gently looked at me from the pond. I have passed by here many times before
but this time God said,
"Stop and look at me."
As I turned my head I saw the boat house nestled in the tall rushes at the water's edge,
reflecting its image into the water. My eyes followed the edge of the horizon around to the other side. A freshly built dock for the neighbor's fishing boat stood above the water. And the reflection below. My eyes looked to find the line of the horizon that divided the dock from its reflection.
The water was still.
The reflection clear.
My eyes could not see where the Creator ended and the image of the Creator began.
The image in the water perfectly reflected what was standing over it.
When the water is stirred, the image is not so clear.
In that moment I remembered-
only when I am still,
can I reflect His perfect grace
that is behind me and before me.
Be still. And know
that I am God.
Remember. Reflect.
Give thanks.
Find grace.
Ahar.