Monday, December 21, 2009
As I wound around the hills and into the clearing, I smelled smoke intermingled with the moist air. I inhaled deeply, and almost expected a little log cabin to appear with a wisp of smoke escaping from a pipe-topped chimney. However, the smoke I saw was thick and billowed from a ranch nestled at the foot of a nearby hill.
Scanning the horizon, I saw another cloud of smoke surging from the midst of another homestead. Then three more would spontaneously greet me before I reached home.
Controlled burns, I thought, finally catching a glimpse of the great pile of leaves, sticks and twigs being consumed beneath the puffs. I had seen them before, but it seemed uncharacteristic that there were so many going at the same moment. Perhaps it was the contrast of the drizzling sky that made them more noticeable.
I wondered how the landowners keep these blazes contained and it made me a twinge nervous to think that the flames could easily begin to consume beyond their boundaries and become a force of destruction.
Just an hour earlier, I had been sharing some realizations during a lunch date with a friend. My emotions and feelings often burn with intensity. When I have the discipline to control them, they are a useful force, fuel for my passions. And there are other times when I allow them to reach beyond their fences and burn those around me.
What I'm considering lately, though, is that emotions and feelings can be contained within a controlled burn lit by an external source. Instead of fanning emotional wildfires in my life, I want to submit my emotions to my Creator. I want to be saddened and angered by what brings sadness and anger to His heart, and not waste my time and energy getting incensed about things that don't really matter in the long run, in God's economy. My desire is for Him to continually ignite my heart within the bounds of His great love and mercy.
I want to be a controlled burn.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
A little over a year ago, I saw an old friend. She is a friend, essentially from a different lifetime. Do you know what I mean? Someone who knew you back when... when you were you, but a you 20 some odd years ago? It's funny how some people are cemented in your mind in a certain way, and even though time has passed, it seems to stand still in your relationship for some reason.
As we were continuing our conversation and catching up, so to speak, we were discussing our lives and some of what God was accomplishing in and through us. And then she said something that I wasn't quite sure how to respond to.
"I always thought of you as a silly girl," she expressed... or at least something along those lines. It seemed as though she thought it was good I had grown out of my "silliness." And then she immediately looked as if she regretted what she had said.
I have done that thousands of times, so I really felt for her. While I can pull my thoughts together on paper, erase and rewrite until it reflects my true heart, I have a difficult time putting words together in "real time." Often flustered, I can't come up with the vocabulary I'm looking for, or even a coherent thought. I can be very socially awkward, but I've learned to live with it. And having an extroverted husband to compliment my clumsy interactions has certainly saved me on many occasions.
Enough with my babbling though, and back to the "silly girl" comment. I wasn't quite certain how to receive it, or if I even wanted to. Was it condescending? Was she attacking my character? Did she think I wasn't capable? Or was she simply astounded at the fact that God could work through someone like me? Probably the later, as I'm quite bewildered and humbled by that fact on a weekly basis... no, daily.
For a while, I settled on that explanation and moved on. However, I didn't get very far. I kept coming back to "silly." I hadn't ever really characterized myself as silly, nor had I ever necessarily been described that way by anyone else. Yet as I thought about my personality back then, I was a person who laughed with great delight, until I was crying and sometimes on the floor doubled over with glee. Joy came with so much ease and more frequently and freely before "life" happened.
I've realized, in the midst of a difficult season, that I miss that girl, silly or however I might choose to describe her. Strangely enough, God gave me two unexpected friends this year that have drawn her back into existence. I'm getting reacquainted and loving every minute of it.
Welcome back, silly girl.
I've missed you.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia.
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.
Monday, November 30, 2009
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
-Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1864
Nov. 2 The start of a new women's discipleship group that
Nov. 18 My choir family...
so awesome to sing God's praises with them
Nov. 19 My parents who live 8 houses away
Nov. 21 Age spots and gray hairs which remind me how gracious God has been to give me many years of life
Nov. 22 Sunny CA, beach-worthy days
Nov. 23 Sleep...
Nov. 24 My friend Thomas, whose faith
in the midst of a cancer battle
astounds and inspires me
Nov. 25 Watching the boys enjoy Legoland
and drive their "own cars"
Nov. 30 All the lessons I've learned in 2009
I'm not the same person I was last November
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Hanging out with Bob
and mapping out my day!
Just me and Indy
I'm too old for this baby ride!
Help, I've been swallowed by a great white shark!!
Josh... very serious about passing the test!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
I don't understand.
And the tears well up in my eyes again and it is hard to see the answers.
Wendy was due to have her sweet, firstborn son, most likely on a windy Chicago day in early November.
But something happened. Something no one could foresee. The life she and Larry had been nurturing, praying for, waiting for with hopeful expectation, suddenly ended at 38 weeks.
She labored and gave birth to Jonathan Timothy. He was a beautiful little boy with perfectly formed features, who will someday be reunited with his extraordinary parents who have an amazing love for him.
Wendy and Larry have met this trial with tremendous hope and faith in God. It simply astounds me.
Wendy said, "Life is hard. . . but we have a strong God."
Instead of continuing to question, I am trying to take my thoughts captive and hold on to that truth. I am asking the Lord to help me wholeheartedly believe that he will work this out for good, because they truly love Him and are called according to His purposes. I need to trust in His strength.
Wendy and Larry... you are remarkable parents, and I will never forget your sweet JT and how he has touched my life. May the Lord continue to be your hope, your comfort, and your strength.
He gives and takes away...
my heart with chose to say
blessed be the name of the Lord.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
"Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 8:10
Are you choosing joy today?
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Mom: What happened, Josh.
Josh: Jason has been calling me a selfish jerk.
Mom: Is that true, Jason?
Mom: Josh, were you being selfish?
Josh: Well, ya. But that doesn't mean I'm a jerk.
Jason: It means you're human.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
But where and when? And how?
I prayed. I prayed and I trusted that he had a plan. I needed to leave the details to him.
Then he asked me out. Unexpectedly. He surprised me with perfect timing and thoughtfulness. And he wooed me with song.
At the end of a choir rehearsal, Cara said, "Did you get my email?" I admitted that I hadn't received it. "Well, our church is having a retreat next month. I know you have a lot going on, but I was just wondering if you would be interested in singing with the worship team." You have to understand that this is not the church I attend, nor has Cara ever really heard me sing.
I told her I would pray about it, but I knew right then and there, that he had just asked me out.
"Yes, Lord! I can't wait!" Giddy and expectant, I reveled in the invitation. I couldn't wait to see what he had planned for our weekend long date.
In the meantime, he went through my journals... quite thoroughly. He took my joys and pains, triumphs and failures, and all the verses that have been my little treasures recently, and he wove them into every song and every message prepared for the weekend. Using beautiful human vessels, he spoke to my heart with intimate knowledge.
He saw me.
He held me.
He knew me.
We sat together under a majestic Monterey pine. I sat and read his poetic love letters... so touching, they brought tears to my eyes. Bowing my head, I began to pour out a heart of love, gratitude and passion, penning my own love letter in return. Then seemingly out of nowhere, he sent a sweet, gentle breeze to envelope me for the next few minutes. I was at a loss for words, so I let the minutes tick away, letting his spirit stir in my soul.
And then I simply replied, "Thank you."
I am so thankful for the lavish love of a Groom who continually woos his bride. He gives her his Bread of Life and Living Water, so that she has no need to be hungry and thirsty again.
He has brought me to his banqueting table...
And his banner over me is love.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
The summer was coming to a close on an overcast, but warm afternoon. I donned a pair of pinstriped black pants, a silky black blouse and sensible flats. My hair was twisted and pulled back in a simple barrette, and I wore a small satchel purse to hold my keys and drivers license.
I drove to a sweet country inn in Nipomo, feeling nervous and excited at the same time.
And then I began to play make believe.
"I am here to assist Ken, today," I told the dapper Father of the Bride.
Ken entrusted me with one of his substantial Nikons, gave me some direction, and set me free. I eyed flowery still lifes and beautiful smiles, children entranced with bubbles and lovely ladies draped in satin. Memories of love and devotion and celebration framed within a little view finder.
The ceremony ended, and the rain drops began to fall. The bride's eyes sparkled and her face became even more radiant... she loves rain. The groom sheltered her with an umbrella and they shared married kisses in its soft shadow.
While my photos only served as a back up to Ken's amazing professional portfolio, it was so inspiring to step into a new pair of shoes.
To play another role.
Like grown up make believe.
My fairy tale came to an end on Sunday morning as I dangled my bare feet over the edge of the bed. The effects of several hours of lunging and squatting had crept in during the night. The day after the "happily ever after."
Nothing worth doing is ever very easy. Marriage is one of those things. It's not always happily every after. We want the better without the worse, the richer without the poorer, and the health without the sickness. Yet life brings both the good and the bad, and when the bad comes, it's easy to say, "I didn't sign up for this." But I did. I made a vow and signed up for it all... not just the fairy tale.
The shadows prove the sunshine. The raindrops prove the clear blue skies. What a blessing it is when two people are brought together in a sacred covenant to warm each other in the shadows and frolic in the sunshine. It is a beautiful mystery.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Because words are powerful.
And they can change everything ... in an instant.
At times, even if they are unspoken.
About three Sundays ago, the house was empty. I had some rare moments to myself. Strains of blue grass praise echoed through the family room, and I danced and lifted my hands in praise to my Savior. My heart was full of emotion and joy came easily and fluidly. Cleansing tears emerged from my soul, and a divine hope filled my mind. Sweetness and light.
My father was soon in the driveway with my youngest who'd been visiting at his house.
"Can I talk to you about something," he said, his face grave and serious.
He had recently had an MRI on his back to see if he'd be a good candidate for back surgery. The doctor found something they hadn't expected to find. A mass was growing on his kidney and he needed to go to USC's medical center to have a specialist look at it.
"Cancer," I thought. But no one spoke it. If someone spoke it, it might somehow give it life... make it real.
But words are meant to be spoken. Or they fester and come out in other ways... like torrents of tears. When we bring things to light, there can be healing.
My father underwent a major surgery yesterday. Skilled hands removed the tissue that was increasing inside him. Though invasive and uncomfortable and painful in the present, our hope is that it will prevent disease from spreading and taking over his body in the future.
As much as I have been struggling with fear over this dreaded "C-word," I am thankful that it was brought to light. It has brought words of prayer, words of encouragement, and words of love and affection. And an opportunity for the Word, Himself, to reveal His glory.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The Pioneer Woman recently posted about Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. She loves the book, and about 98% of the people who commented said that they cry like a baby when they read it. Having great sentimental value, most people cherish the simple story.
I, on the other hand, have a hard time with it. It makes me profoundly sad. I'm not sure if I am sadder for the tree who gives until she is a stump and gets nothing in return or for the boy who never learns to give. Perhaps, I don't really understand it's meaning. Is the tree God? Is the tree a mom? Does is speak to the selfishness of humanity or of unconditional love? Or is it a completely dysfunctional relationship?
Maybe it's because it can be interpreted in so many ways, that it is a "good" piece of literature. Maybe we can learn from it depending on where we are in our own personal journeys. I really have no idea... that's why I asked my friends on Facebook.
I really liked the interpretation Steve gave...
"A metaphor and allegory of two kinds of people, those who take, and those who give. Those who seek only to please themselves wind up bitter, alone, and coming back to those who give. Those who give are portrayed as having a seemingly endless wealth of creativity and imagination, while those who take merely consume, consume and consume. Peace!"
Even if I gave and gave until I was only a little stump at the end of my life, I think I'd still rather do that than be a lonely, bitter consumer.
Erma Bombeck once said,
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me".
I like that.
And I am left with a question... How do you teach children to be more like the tree than the old man?
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
A tale of unfaithfuless...
And the destruction that came to a marriage.
But also a tale of forgiveness
And new life.
It's the story of a woman named
I highly recommend reading it and seeing how God uses it in your life.
My reaction surprised me.
Usually I am deeply touched hearing testimonies of redemption that God has wrought.
I easily celebrate and give God glory.
But as I read, I discovered a wall around my heart I didn't know I had erected.
And I don't want it to be there.
I don't want to be hard and unfeeling.
I don't want to protect myself in return for losing passion and sensitivity.
I want to live.
I want to be vulnerable.
I want to build relationships even if it means potentially getting hurt.
So I'm tearing down the wall.
Brick by brick.
But I think it's worth it.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
"You are growing a beard, Mommy."
How rude! But much to my chagrin, he was spot on.
Pluck and tweeze as I may, on a tri-weekly basis, I just can't seem to keep my facial hair under control.
You see, my grandfather on my father's side was a full blooded Frenchman. This makes me at least a quarter French by my estimation. This legacy explains my olive complexion and the abundance, and sometimes overabundance of dark hair.
I wonder if it also has something to do with my love for numerous French things.
Impressionist paintings like Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte captivate me.
Les Miserables is one of the most extraordinary stories of redemption ever written... and probably my favorite musical of all time.
Beauty and the Beast... hmmm, see here!
Croissants, baguettes, and French toast! Forget about it!
Strangely enough, even my favorite actress spoke French and wore clothes designed by a Frenchman.
It has to be more than coincidental.
I can't help but ponder my heritage.
To be continued...
Monday, August 3, 2009
Are you smiling yet?
You aren't? Then watch the video, silly!!!
It made me want to go shopping...
which is amazing cause I've been down with a virus all week.
Now I'm longing for a Turkey Basil Sandwich on Foccacia, the Greek Salad, and some of the yummy Pink fizzy Lemonade.
What are your top 3 Trader Joe's items?
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
And the result...
A couple of homemade heroes!
Super "Z" Boy
(not to be confused with Tuberculosis!)