Thoughts On Fathering

Father’s Day comes quickly again this year. I turn around once or twice and we have zoomed from winter into the throes of summer. It seems our Idaho weather has skipped most of Spring, or maybe my memory has faded a bit in the bright sun. All I know is that it is near the end of June, my younger brother is turning seventy on Father’s Day, and somehow my husband turned seventy-seven a few months ago. Time is indeed marching on, unrelentingly, with no care of it’s effects on us temporal folk. Our children are grown, most with children of their own. The grands growing up are like measuring sticks of the years speeding by.

Happily, there are still timeless things in this world that one may celebrate. I imagine that when the holidays to celebrate mothers and fathers originated, the basis was for the sheer honoring of good parents who loved and raised their children well. Some of us were blessed with that experience in our young lives; many definitely were not. In a broken world full of broken people, even in those homes where true kindness and love towards one another reigned, inevitably conflict, hurt, or tragedy occurred, sneaking in to try to ruin the pie. So what do we do with that, when celebration may bring much joy, but maybe memories of other stuff we’ve “stuffed” as well.

For me reviewing memories of what was, celebrating what is, and dreaming of what can be enriches my life. Perhaps in our elder years the propensity to “practicing memory” is a necessary exercise! I know it has brought me much joy as I focus on those good and positive things that have been given me. A protective, loving father who provided for our family formed a great part of my foundation, as did my mother’s gentle nurture and care. Both came from hard working, faithful, large families who looked out for one another, stood together. When I faced stormy parts of my young life that unfailing love and trust helped ballast my boat to keep me afloat. And those memories that are not so sweet? The hard work of facing them with God’s help, seeking truth and healing has brought much relief.

My husband’s family experience gave him an especially deep connection with his dad. Dad Y. always provided for the family; they were his top priority. I hear my husband’s deep respect for his dad as we reminisce of his years growing up, the challenges he faced. The many years we and our children enjoyed Grandpa Y. after he moved to our town proved him a gentle man, with a great love of family and friends. I hold him in high regard as I hear how he fathered his children and honored his marriage. He and my dad both shared that same virtue of care and protection for their own. And they both lived it well.

I see these same traits in my brother and my husband. And am thankful that our children and their cousins have experienced faithful fathers who have done their best to grow, love, and care for them. Fathering must be a tremendously weighty experience for some, when the realities of caring for others while working in highly stressful careers, and navigating unexpected life challenges, present situations that seem not to resolve. I wonder how God feels at times. He is the perfect Father, yet a great part of His creation totally ignore Him, or are in rebellion to His ways of living love. He is, after all, where real love comes from. (“ . . . for God is love.” See 1 John 4:7-11).

Each of us, every one, has so much to learn about what life is really all about. As I grow more secure in relationship with God personally, reflecting back on those past and present men in my life who have modeled fathering, it brings me to a place of deep gratitude. For those men who have not been able to traditionally carry out fathering their children as one would expect or like, my prayer for them this Father’s Day is that they will receive grace in their situations as well. Even the best of fathers are imperfect, and we are all still children in need of our Heavenly Father to show us the way to truly love. May your Father’s Day be rich in joy, memories, relationship, forgiveness, gratitude, and love. And with thanksgiving that God is not finished with any of us yet! His true love never fails! Blessings to you!

Forgiving Past The Person

“Consider this,” a new thought suggested recently: “What if hurtful words said to you are a reflection of pain in the speaker; not really meant to wound you at all, but to actually defend themselves? What is behind their behavior? Think about that before jabbing back!” 

Finding myself pondering reasons for why I am so repetitively hurt in some ways (truly a conundrum in my mind) opened a new door. “Get Teflon,” our son wisely admonished me one day when thinking about how easily my spirit sometimes feels the verbal spear-tip. This has resulted in a process of becoming more objective about the spear-thrower, rather than receiving the thrust subjectively, personally. I will admit, I have to keep practicing this new dance, for just as surely I win the match one day, I am bruised the next. It has given me more insight into the experience of jousting. Admittedly, it is no fun when it seems to be at my expense! I hope I am learning to dance in a way that the one whose words wound me will not be wounded in my response. One can be strong and victorious without crushing another. It is more fun when both parties win!

In nursing school we learned that “all behavior is meaningful.” That sounds a bit like a no-brainer, yet says to me that behind words that hurt is a larger story. When I am irritable and out of sorts, and answer a loved one rudely just because I’m grumpy, how sad it is that I may have hurt them unintentionally by my tone of voice, facial expression, out of control response. Scripture states, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil. . . Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (see James 3:1-12). Even if I have not had actual cursing coming out of my mouth, wounding words or attitude still war against those around me. It truly seems like a losing battle. And would be, but for forgiveness.

I have found that the more I nurse my wounds, hold a grudge, feed my resentment of those who have wounded me, the more bitter, angry, depressed, tired, and separated I become. I presume my withdrawal from that person does not effect them really, by avoiding the hard stuff of trying to get real and reconcile. Yet, I imagine the truth of it is, I am hurting myself much more, emotionally, physically, and spiritually in negative ways, than if I would but deal with the issue. Not only with what it is that’s bugging me inside, but also those problems I might have with someone else. Risky business, for sure, yet oh, so beneficial for the trying.

A bit like tightrope walking, it can be totally terrifying, not knowing how the other person will respond to my olive branch. And bumpy, too, with emotions guarded, both parties unsure, getting weary of the awkward dance. Happily, I have found I do not have to do this uncomfortable job of reconciling alone. I have a Helper to go with me, the Comforter. Because I have been forgiven so much in my life by a God who willingly died to save and redeem me, I am learning, by doing, how to forgive, through love, others who have hurt me.

Spending time getting real with God has helped me risk getting real with others. I am learning more of who I am, where my promised value comes from, about God’s trustworthiness and unchangeability, and as I grow more confident in Him I find I am becoming more sure of me. My value does not depend on the opinions of others, no matter how wonderful it is to be loved and affirmed. Conversely, if others’ opinions of me are negative and demeaning, usually what wounds my soul, it is, in truth, not the reality of Who or what measures my worth. Only God does that. His death and resurrection for me (and you) prove His love in action towards us. He has forgiven my rejection of Him, my misuse of His blessings, my wounding of others of His creation, the list goes on and on. Through His patience and transforming grace I am seeing the results of forgiveness as I try to practice towards others the grace He has given me. Like dumping a backpack loaded with rocks, it lightens my load each time I look beyond the person to search for where they need forgiving and healing of their pain. I hope, too, as I ask for forgiveness when I am wrong, they will do that for me!

My Ideal Ideal Day #2

Awakening to the vague pulse of life breathing around me, I linger in bed just thinking of the dreams dreamt, slowly opening my eyes to a new day. No matter the time, for I have no schedule and no responsibilities other than myself this morning. In our retirement, dear husband and I usually arise at different hours, and over the years have found our solitude a place of nourishment for our souls. We have found it is OK to be wired differently. Our together time will resume a bit later. For now, I can enjoy this time freely.

My ideal day is one without conflict. Free from pressure to do things I really do not wish to do; yet, still nurture and remain connected to those relationships that are vital. Also to honor myself with time I need, while caring for others as well. Unless I have been previously summoned to help, I am free to take this day as it unfolds. Inspiration might be to finally pull the paints out again. Write more; study Scripture. Read an uplifting novel just because I enjoy doing so so much. Or put my thinking cap away and purge closets, install sliding drawers, get rid of clutter stuffed in hidden places. Tend to routine chores. Or take a walk, go for a drive, write letters, maybe be enthused to cook a new dish. Serve others in ways I have not expected. Or . . . parasail! Though I have yet to do so, I imagine the view must be grand!

On those days when schedules rule, I conform myself to be on time and in place. Structure is a necessary framework. Yet knowing the essence of floating jelly-fish style in life has its merits, too. God does provide! And as I come before Him to listen, invite Him into “my” day, all manner of interesting things might occur. There is a freedom that is both wondrous and disconcerting in following after God . . . being free within a great set of God-given boundaries allows one to find internal freedom and peace increasing and increasing, no matter what life might bring, as one practices obedience to God’s precepts. A fabulous and amazing reality of living in God’s kingdom! “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32 NKJV).

And so as I consider how to live today I search for the peace that passes all understanding, and endeavor to view my day through that lens. Since I have trusted God to guide and direct my life I have never ceased to be amazed at what possibilities and realities might unfold. For who knows better what is best for my day than the One who created me. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 18:9). Whether He teaches me a new truth, brings to mind a wrong I have committed that I need to correct, motivates me to be His hands and feet serving others; no matter how the day unfolds, with the LORD as my guide, every day becomes, in truth, an ideal ideal day!

My Ideal Ideal Day

As I think back over the years I see a constant thread that has woven its way throughout my life, that of yearning to be perfect. Repeatedly I have learned that in an imperfect world perfection just cannot be achieved, try though one might! Even daydreaming of what my ideal ideal day would be is challenging, for it will still be incomplete, not fully ideal. Oh, to just relax in being an everyday girl. “Just be yourself!” the LORD spoke to me one day long ago. It’s hard to be a worm when one wants to be a butterfly! “Help me savor all there is here, LORD! And become all I need to be before You give me wings to fly!”

Maybe that is just it . . . my ideal day is one when I do not have any concerns about what it is I should be doing, freedom from overthinking, willingness to tackle with joy whatever the task set before me, one without dread of what is to come or what could have been, one where I am just enjoying the day with enthusiasm again.

Perhaps I would fly to France and live there for awhile. Somehow embody the the depth of life I felt on our visit to Laon a few years ago. Linger in the outdoor cafes in the shadow of the Notre Dame de Laon towers. Or stroll the market streets beneath the canopy of opened, colorful umbrellas strung high overhead. Shop for marionettes, and purchase at least one. Linger there a little longer than just an overnight on a scheduled journey. I would be able to truly enjoy a full-bodied dark red wine, without the tannins giving me a headache, for maroon is a color that speaks depth and love to me. I want to drink it in, let it fill me up. Dear husband would be there, too. Young in spirit though our bodies have aged, we would be as we were when we were newly in love. Savoring each adventurous moment, still climbing the hill, rather than have crested the top and viewing a shorter path to our finality. “Living at high noon” we know our lives continue after our time here on earth . . . it has just gone by so fast. We long to fly, yet feel the remorse of having to let this life go.

Perhaps just today is my ideal ideal day. My husband is near, my mind seems clear, and we are working on projects simultaneously and together. The children and grands all speak to us, there is peace in the valley where we live, my heart overflows with gratitude and fond memories, and the sun is shining. All is well! I am thankful for whatever this day brings. Yes, today is my ideal ideal day!

Hiding

Sometimes I choose to not step out. Hiding is easier, safe it seems. The sun is too bright, I feel exposed, and I run back to my covering. It’s safe in here. My wounded self has been so wrapped up in that identity, it’s hard to throw it off . . . for will I lose a part of me?

Years ago I became new, Christ offering His life for mine. How could I not respond? His gift of sacrifice, forgiveness, eternity incomprehensible! I have known my shame and depravity. So for many years I walked with my burdens left behind, and my self somewhere, too, as I looked to and learned of the LORD, as I focused on others, their needs.

One day it came as a quiet thundering roar, the need to visit self once more. And I began to explore me . . . who is that girl again? Perhaps it would have been easier just to forget, walk on, leave me behind. But I did not. Like with my shadow tethered well, I picked up self to start again. And so began internal work, the thinking deep, the wondering. Examining the where’s and why’s, unveiling depths of suffering. I truly do not wish to dwell in there, but let God’s light bring to life the healing needed for parts of me that have been wounded, are not right. That just do not understand.

I hope that is not selfishness. I’d rather hope by example to invite others into freedom, too, as they find it’s safe to lean into the truth of who they really are, with the LORD to guide them through; even through those darkest valleys of their soul, those awful awful places one fears and chooses to avoid.

God has never rejected me. It is absolutely beyond amazing that as I prattle on and on, keep spinning in that same spot, His patient endurance and forbearance of me remains. He gently walks me on. He is good to go at my pace, my choice it seems; other times He carries me. I know He is the one in control, and I am grateful. His view of my situation is bigger than mine. He is the One Who changes me. So, perhaps this hiding is ok. A place of rest, renewal, new birth taking place. For somewhere deep inside I am in grand company! God has come to dwell with me!

Becoming Honest

Standing naked, unclothed 
Opening eyes, really looking
My imagination and reality
Collide

How do I accept this truth
Of who I think I am
But am not
And live with it
Pull it off
Or let it rule me

Honesty feels scary
The painful excision of shadows
And lies that bind, twist, restrain
Tether me from flying

Yet I think that is who I am
And perhaps it is
My ego, long suffering
Still wanting to reign

So why stay in those chains
When with fearful trembling
I stand miserably revealed
Needing to be cleansed again

In nakedness we were fashioned
For open relation, transparency
Our Maker Creator designing
Honest communication

When e’re that want of hiding
In attention captures me
I know tis time to dive once more
Into Love’s redemption

Honestly stand before my LORD
Accept, confess the reasons
Let Him skim off my molten dross
Be freed to fly again

Dancing With The Grands


“Mama Mia” blared aloud
As we jigged and jagged about
Sweeping arms and bobbing heads
Moved in rhythm as were led
Laughing right out loud

The child in me was joy in full
Playful happy freely still
Though my aging body looked
Truly weird when I took
A peek at me later dancing on

The mirror on the wall indeed
Was not kind at all to me
Is this what my darlings see
When we’re dancing gleefully?
The picture’s not so pretty

Who cares? It’s fun! I’m dancing still
Who I am inside this body will
Never be an aged thing
But me who’s dancing as with wings
Dancing on and on

Joys of a Second Childhood

I now know why grandchildren come into our lives when they do. Or puppies, small furry kittens, hedgehogs named Tulip, ponies named Strawberry and May, or any number of little people or animals that burst upon our lives with their boundless energy. Oh, sure, along with all that cuteness comes a pile of taking care of, feeding, cleaning up after, and watching over. Yet the fun and fabulous part of all, is the boundless play.

It is so easy in our grownup seriousness and juggling of responsibilities to lose that playful part of ourselves. Especially in a world bent on destruction. Or at least one that would rather focus primarily on the hard things of life, with little thought or recognition of those things that bring joy. I must admit to being one of those who naturally focuses on a project ‘til its completion, hard to let it go in the process, to interrupt the flow. This becomes more than difficult when a “project” or responsibility is a living thing, one with a mind of its own! So enters the gift of play, the release valve in an over-pressurized world.

I remember the first day I let loose and danced around with some of our young grands. Our daughter was astounded. It had been so long since those days when she and I played. How had I let those times slip away? Yes, I did give her up to playing with her half-siblings who came to live permanently with us, after the death of their mother. Soon after came the birth of their brother, to round out our clan of two boys and two girls. Somewhere in there, in all the busyness and responsibilities, I must have lost my play. And as I look back I am regretful for that.

Play brings permission to forget oneself and just enjoy. In-joy. Let joy come into oneself. How often we think it, or watch it, but forget to actually do it. Children, puppies, kittens, ponies, tiny hedgehogs, so many blessings of God’s incredible creation invite us into that experience. As I grow older and the busyness of adult life falls away I find myself longing for that playfulness, that innocence of childhood. The unburdened living in the moment, without all the extra baggage. I deeply respect my cousin who did play extensively with her young children throughout their growing. She and her husband still do. Where did we lose our play?

My hope is that in becoming more childlike as I age, and continuing to regain a sense of the playful me, that the joy in me will leak out, overflow into a dark and hurting world, bringing lightness not only to me, but to those around me, too. That I will float in the river that brings life and nourishment to all it touches, and in-joy the journey on the way. Fun!

Healing My Vision

In an online conference recently we were blessed to listen to a woman of ministry ask a prayer of healing over nearly 650 listeners. Through the responding chat it was evident many had received immediate physical healing. While waiting for reports to be collected, one lady testified of relief from swollen, painful joints: she now had full range of motion in her previously very restricted shoulder; and was able to easily stand and straighten her knees, one previously swollen, now noticeably smaller in size. Though at the time of the speaker’s original prayer I had not lifted up concern of the macular degeneration in my left eye, and cataracts in both, the thought occurred a short while later. And each day since I have wondered, “LORD, will You heal my eyes, too?”

Another woman of ministry for whom I carry much admiration and respect is Jennifer Rothschild. Blind with retinitis pigmentosa since the age of fifteen, she is a vibrant wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to many with a robust speaking, conference, podcast, music and writing ministry. She’s fun, funny and upbeat. While laughing she says it’s just part of her nature, her maiden name being Jolly. She has prayed for healing of her blindness; yet her physical eyes still do not see. Her husband’s arm helps to guide her as she walks with a signature white cane. She counts steps to help orient herself in her home; and has the gadgets that enable a blind person to live more independently. She does her own hair, applies her own makeup, manages her household. And though she is living life fully and abundantly, she admits she is challenged at times. She has asked God to heal her, a woman who is His faithful, joy-filled servant; and still He has not.

Wrestling with this issue of prayers that seem to go unanswered, new clarity dawned in my mind as I slowly awakened this morning, checking one eye then the other to see if my vision had cleared. Checking to see if God had done His job. (What? Where did THAT thought come from?) No, checking to see if He had chosen to bless me in that physical way, yet. As I lay there remembering the many affirmations of His love for me, and thinking of Jennifer’s book “Walking By Faith: Lessons Learned in the Dark”, my vision became crystal clear. I could see with joy, with a wide grin plastered across my face and soul, into bright eons ahead. And, like Jennifer, one who knows God has purpose in His timing and reason, I could see.

The glimpse was so lovely I jumped up to write about it, not waiting to hold still a little longer to keep looking, to sink into it farther, to let it imprint more deeply in my brain. I saw brightness and light, joyfulness, delight, like a roadway going forward ever on, without sides or barriers, yet with definition, the brightest light at the far end of the road. All was filled and formed with light, nothing else was needed at this point. The light was, and is enough. The purity of the vision, the clarity so brilliant as it burst into me, was like an invitation, a breakthrough. Clarity, light, freedom from whatever darkness I have been in. The kind of vision I have been seeking all my life. More and more clarity. Was it physically visual or all in my mind? I’m not sure.

Walking into the Kingdom of God where no darkness of any kind resides, comes through the door of Jesus Christ. It is true! He has lived, died, rose again and continues to overcome, push back, slay the darkness. In John 8:12 Jesus declares, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” I accepted His invitation to walk through that door in 1970. The journey has been one of continual learning, and growing to trust Christ with every aspect of my life. Like layers of an onion, there is always more to peel away as He and I go deeper into the core of me. As the light of life shines to clarify my vision of who I am and how to walk this road, there is always something more to learn in navigating relationships, embracing my imperfections and failings, addressing the awful grip sin had on me, receiving forgiveness, healing from dashed expectations and pain, wrestling with the unexpected and with disappointments, figuring out how to move forward, learning how to really live out “new life” in Him.

A huge factor in recent months has been recognizing how many lies I have been hearing and believing from voices in the world, lies that attack my value and worth as God sees me, lies in my mind to keep me from believing. Lies like the original one hissed by the father of lies in the Garden of Eden: “Has God indeed said . . .? You will not surely die” (see Genesis 3). As I grow closer to the person of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, I am learning how to banish those lies, and to live joy even when life seems to be crumbling all around me, my loved ones, or the world. How to keep on keeping on in those hard places that just do not seem to change, despite prayers and my efforts to fix the things. Like Jennifer, I know this earthly life truly is but a blink in eternity.

So I blinked, then blinked again, one eye, then the other. Yes, that shadow in my central vision still floated there, sometimes more, sometimes less. Yes, the blurriness of cataracts appeared to remain. Yet my vision is changing. I am seeing more clearly. The light of life is shining brightly in me, a beacon, a lighthouse through all the tumults of this worldly walk. I am seeing a brilliant path ahead. Thank You, LORD, for the vision You give! For all the light I need to walk with You through every step of this journey home! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Mind-Body Do-Si-Do

“No!” screamed my mind, “I don’t want to go out to pull weeds!” “But, why?” asked my body. “I’m in sore-full need of exercise, and weeds only get worse if not tended to.”“Because,” lamented mind, “I want to think, mull, turn over and inspect all that stuff in my head. It is so interesting, bewildering, and mysterious. I just can’t let it go!”“It’s ok,” crooned body. “Come on, let’s go. You need a little breeze to blow the cobwebs out and let some light in. It truly will do wonders for you. Remember? We’ve done this before. We won’t leave anything important behind.”

Mind really had not much choice, divided as it was. One part insisting to stay in the cave, the other ready for an adventure out the door. Was it a left brain, right brain kind of thing? Or just that daily tug-o-war decision-making over what one wants to do versus what one should do? Oh, the dilemmas of such a mind. So many choices, like spilled water running in all directions at once. No wonder ‘focus’ was such a big word of the day. Without it the mind would go nowhere, just drain into the ground, sucked up by wanton earthly things.

“Ok,” mind agreed bravely. “Let’s get this thing done!” Off they went, mind and body on the same page, though admittedly mind was still complaining some, trying to convince body to turn around. “Nope!” body admonished. “Keep going!”

Body had spoken before to mind many times. The aches of sitting too long said, “Time to move!” Muscles tight demanded, “Stretch me!” Overtired, body insisted, “Enough already! Go to bed!” And so the conversation went day by day. Today, finally outside in the sun, body was happy for a change of scenery. No matter the task at hand, being bent over to pull weeds still allowed the sun to shine in, eyes to see wonders of God’s creation, hands to stroke the soft fur of the neighbor’s cat, and mind to think fresh new thoughts. It really was a win win situation, mind beginning to agree this was a good idea after all. So on went the weed pulling.

After a good long while of accomplishing much, for when mind started a project it did not want to quit til finished, body began to exclaim, “Ok, now, I think we’re done!” “Oh, no,” said mind. “We still have those two little flower beds to do.” “But I hurt!” exclaimed body as it slowly straightened to a standing position. “It won’t take long. There’s just a little more to do!” mind admonished. “Remember, you’re the one who wanted to come out here. Let’s get it done!”

“Oh,” groaned body to itself. “What have I gotten us into? Will I ever recover from this relentless mind? Once it sets its ‘focus’ I’m the one who’s done, it seems!” On it went, mind admonishing, body bending and pulling, eyes seeing just one more weed to pull. It was exasperating, yet body submitted to mind’s will to “get ‘er done.” By the time body finally convinced mind, “Enough already!” mind was ready to be finished, too, wisely knowing if it wanted to ever get back to its snug cozy cave, body would have to carry it in. Yes, certainly, both had won the dance.

Walking A New Path


A ray of light begins to dawn
Peeking faintly o’re the rise
Harbinger of things to come

Mist wafts gently past my face
Gauzy offerings to the day
Beseeching light break forth

Perplexed, on point there I stand
Walk in wonder swirling round
Await the light to fully shine

Stillness reigns the hallowed hour
Bidding shadows fall away
Come, I pray, illumine me

Hesitation

She stood at the crosswalk, a dog near her feet barking at something unseen. The traffic roared by, and with the change of lights, slowly came to a stop. She could cross now, but for some reason was hesitant to step off the curb and cross to the other side. It was as though the crossing would require her to leave behind everything that she had known here on this side of the street. Things she was loathe to give up or forget. She was not quite ready, yet.

And so she stood, frozen in place. Afraid, perhaps, to move forward. The light changed again, the traffic moved on, and still she stood, frozen.

Why now does the story of Lot’s wife come to mind? Fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his family were told to not look back at the horrible scene. The instruction was explicit. Do not look back. And yet, Lot’s wife did look back, and instantly became frozen in that spot, a pillar of salt. Her life ended there. Why did she stop from fleeing from destruction towards new life? What captured her that she became a lesson for all who vacillate, procrastinate fleeing the destructive things of this world? Why did she hesitate?

I wonder what went through her mind when Lot’s wife looked back. I do know that with faith I must look forward, fleeing destruction. It is when I look back that I, too, become frozen. In Luke 17:20-37 Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God that is within us, not one that comes with observation. And of that day when the Son of Man, Jesus returns finally to a new earth, the old earth passing away. He admonishes us to, “Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:32-33)

I pray that I will not hesitate in that day, not look back to collect my life of this earth, but leave behind all that should be destroyed, that is not needed nor fit for God’s kingdom. Perhaps that girl at the curb is considering those things as well. Only when the light shines her direction, and the dangers stop, does she confidently step off the curb, and walk through parted waters to the other side, safe all the way. Even the dog at her feet has quieted, knowing all is finally well.

When one has the Holy Spirit dwelling within, a grand and marvelous thing occurs. We are given all the sufficiency we need for a life of godliness, pleasing to our LORD, for He Himself is our sufficiency. Like the girl on the curb, this is a lesson of learning to be meditated on, allowing one’s mind to be renewed with God’s way of thinking. In this world our sufficiency is touted to be found in our efforts, accomplishments, comparisons to others as we race to bigger and better, more excellent things. To be recognized, praised and lauded for who we are, our wisdom, our abilities, our delightful personalities, all that makes one look good in this life. And yet, eventually, if one is truly honest with oneself, these things become empty, hollow shadows of the true, deep desires of one’s heart. That God-shaped vacuum that can only be filled and satisfied with God Himself.

It is hard living in a broken world when the promise and walking toward fulfillment is always just another step ahead. To be patient with the process of refinement that comes with endurance, trials, sorrows, the challenges one must face each day. To find peace in the process when one sees their own conflict within. Yet, with the sufficiency of Christ we can rejoice in the hope of things to come! And even now, to hesitate not for the God things that are greater than the things of this world!

Facing The Flood

As the need for acceptance 
Rises from the deep
Raging waters cascade down
Carve gorges in the steep
Exo- and endo-skeletons of my soul

When the sense of rejection meanders
Close to my watching mind
As runlets fill dried gorges
And trickle steadily down
I anticipate the flood

This time I’m more prepared though
Many floods have passed this way
Have swept away my confidence
Held identity in its sway
But I am stronger now

The strength of my Redeemer
Inside of me He walks
Shows me signs to watch for
How to navigate the rocks
And to understand the waters

I pray about what’s causing
The rise of fear in me
Face in truth the telling
Open eyes to see
What it is that’s frightening

So as I face the questions
The quandaries in my mind
I’m watchful for the currents
The paths of rising tides
To move out of their way

And with the One who saves me
Examine rifts within
Build bridges over caverns
Make secure the way again
So I can walk on

I can choose the path to follow
Rise above impending floods
Find the way through any waters
Walk on with Hope above
Any presenting situation

When past the dangerous places
Breathe again the calmer air
With praise and much thanksgiving
To the One who led me there
Who gives me safe passage

And with joy again infilling
I treasure time we spent
Assessing, fixing, building
Repairing what was rent
Shoring up and healing my brokenness within

From A Mountain View

The undulating valley floor lay before us, stretching for miles ahead. We gazed from above, as we sat on a rock outcropping catching our breath from the hard climb up. As clouds moved across the sky, the light playing across the land brought sharp focus to the ravines and hillocks that lay hidden at first glance. This was cattle country, fences bounding vast upper mountain meadows and pastureland, old homestead buildings dotting the landscape. Water was aplenty, the river having been dammed years before, a great reservoir laying in the low areas, the watery grave of older homesteads and pioneer towns. Today cabins and fancy mountain lake homes could be found nestled in the yellow pine forests that marched down the mountainsides to the lake, thirsty for drink. Fishing and boating were popular with those who visited the lake, but from our vista view we saw bigger things, the majesty that surrounded the valley below.

It had been an arduous climb, my life long companion, my husband, knowledgeable in the ways of rock climbing and outdoor survival. We had both been through our own challenging climbs before we met, and our journey together brought new wonders and demands to navigate. Sitting on this outcrop now gave pause to the long journey of marriage, parenting, and careers, time to step aside from our microscopic, tunneled views of everyday life to see the bigger picture. To see us as part of a grander, more marvelous reality than before. Perhaps that is why God brought us together. To help us help each other balance, walk through the inner and outer treks we would encounter. To dive deep within ourselves to explore new understanding, mine for true lasting treasure placed there by the same Creator who created the vast mountain vistas, to learn to renew our minds by the truth of who God says He is and who we are in Him. It is quite like mountain climbing. One suddenly turns a forested corner, and there it is laying before you! Understanding, as clear and beautiful as the most resplendent places on earth. Or perhaps even more so, for the price that was paid for a gift of unmerited favor.

Catching our breath we relished this time to pause, to gaze, to be thankful for this beautiful place to rest and reflect. Like ants scurrying nonstop, their whole hill alive with frenzied motion, life had a way of pulling us this way and that, scrambling our thoughts with so many demands one was hard pressed to know what to do, except explode! Or implode. No wonder emotions, like a pressure cooker gone awry, could overpower and blast one into behaviors uncontrolled. Or if turned inward would erode and carve deep wounds like torrents of rushing water sculpting sandstone canyons. Yes, my mind still needs renewal every day, for I have known the highs and lows of emotional tides. Some might enjoy the adventure of such rides, perhaps in a seaworthy sailboat, but inside one’s mind I prefer the thrills of smooth sailing and revelation of new glorious vistas. Pausing on this high mountain perch, a special place that my husband has visited many times before, reminds me of the importance of going to high mountains, for rest, reflection, renewal. To a place where one can breathe rarified air, see past the clouds or pollution, gaze far into panoramas that go on and on and on, never ending vistas that inspire, refill one’s soul. And to remember again the indescribable grandeur and glory of Him who has gifted us His renewal, inside and out. To sit there with Him, and be thankful. And then walk with Him into the valley below.

Heart Talk

Trudging on the road of life 
Occasion brings gifts of surprise
A person with a heart that can
Truly listen, understand

How oft when words are flung out loud
Meaning’s lost in vocal air
Translation haps before the thought
Has fully landed on listener’s ear

To listen well one must set aside
Opinions, preplanned thoughts, retorts
To hear the heartbeat of the talk
To catch the meaning e’re it’s lost

LORD, give me ears to truly hear
What’s being said when someone speaks
Make a way for truth to shine
Bring solace to our hearts and minds

And as we unpack burdens long
Held tightly, stuffed down deep inside
A lightness, spirit freedom comes
Joy begins to magnify

Give us courage, LORD, to share
To rid ourselves of grievous woes
With wisdom bring those hearts who care
To speak new life, new hope to bear


Note: References about listening are from Madeleine L’Engle, Trailing Clouds of Glory, pg. 47:
“We have become over casual in our rituals of greeting and leavetaking, blessing and even reviling. We focus on our own gesture, rather than the need, intent, response of the other . . .
The scribes and Pharisees tended to look at people and see where they ought to be. Jesus looked at people and saw where they were.”




Behind The Ugly


It’s sad the walls and fortresses
One builds around one’s self
To hide, protect, justify
To keep the peace, so not
To have to open doors
That have been firmly closed
Content without relationship
Than trekking brambled shores
Losing precious fellowship
That still could be restored
If one would take courage

What makes those hurtful attitudes
That somehow seem to say
I know better than you do
Pushes folks away
Then at attempts to reconcile
Forgiveness is not given
Labeled forever ugly
Again, again, again
Though in the first offense
The truth there may have been

Perhaps behind the ugly
Is a shield from being hurt
An effort to defend oneself
From wounds or even worse
The pain of deep rejection
And the conflict of disdain
Perhaps behind the ugly
One battles not again
Just repels the lot
Stays in control
Maybe even wins

Fear or Faith?

Recently in an online video a speaker commented on making choices through fear or faith. It caught my attention for it succinctly stated the reality of how we live most of our lives. It seems many of those deep-seated angsts from childhood center around the nauseating fear of rejection, ridicule, or humiliation. Interesting that such challenges to our core being that arise when we are so very young may last a lifetime. When I think of the decision-making process that rolls in my head I wonder, what is fueling that engine? Fear or faith?

It really matters not so much what the fear or the faith is, it seems the age old dichotomy between the two is the point. The world system, the cultural voices that dominate our community and social systems, our media and information sources tout a fear-based agenda it seems. Or messages that instill, promote fear in the masses, rather than inspiring us to have hope and rise to greater heights. Faith on the other hand must be carefully considered. For the object of one’s faith is best chosen with care.

“Faith” according to Webster is essentially loyalty, belief, trust. Throughout my life when challenged with many fearsome situations, the choices in how to to respond were always the same: in fear, or in faith. Fear and trembling were not foreign concepts. Fear sneaks in, just like it did in that garden where it all began. Fear of lack was born there. Fear that what Adam and Eve had been given was not enough.

“Not enough!” Such a loud shout in today’s world . . . or a whisper. Like a barnacle welded on the thing it refuses to let go, it’s tendrils sunk deep into the fabric of our psyche. It taunts and shames, incites doubt, breeds fear til we are left grasping for something or someone to believe in. We are, after all, creatures meant to walk in faith, in relationship with a good God who has only our best in mind. Are we willing to search out that relationship? To spend time finding the goodness of the God who created us, or in fear will we run to more tangible sources that seem to have the answers we want? We do all walk in faith . . . in something.

Over the years of seeking to find that good God that the historical Jesus Christ told so many about, I have found the something/Someone to believe in who has proven to be trustworthy and true. He has never lied to me, put me out or down, humiliated me (I’ve done that on my own!), or used me in any nefarious way. He has given me hope, renewal, value, worth, forgiveness, confidence, family, friends, and even dwells in me through His Holy Spirit. I am never alone. Sure, I might have questions, my own random fears that arise, loneliness when I am focused on what I might not have rather than what I do have – Him. Yet in all these normal human experiences I have Someone I can run to immediately anytime, any place for solace, answers, direction. This is the Person I choose to believe and trust with my faith; faith being “walking to the end of all the light we have, yet still going on” (I remember a preacher making a statement like that about fifty years ago). The richness of God’s provision is astounding, and I shall never be able to understand it all with my finite mind. Yet this I know, He is real, He is Love, and He died and rose again (a historical fact) to tell me so.

Fear or faith? I have found God of the Bible (not “religion”, but God Himself) to be the place of faith I can securely go to in my fear. His voice and counsel will never lead me astray, and His peace that passes all understanding envelopes me in a chaotic world. I need but “Be still and know that (He is) God.” (See Psalms 46:10a, NKJV.) And to learn of Him and His wisdom so I may face my fears with hope, assurance, and faith (see Romans 10:17).

Death By Ricotta

Her mind was twirling, the day beginning to spin before she had had her morning meal. Usually a cup of chocolate bone broth, and a few spoonfuls of ricotta cheese with her meds, took care to keep her stomach comfy. Thoughts pinged: “This house is a mess, I really need to get this taken care of before someone comes over. Dust the black TV base – it’s the worst! Move the piles of mail that are still waiting to be put in the recycle bin – I must look through each piece first. Disheveled! I must do something about this! And that Zoom meeting at 1:00 – am I ready for that? All the other gals are so gifted – I think I know what to share, but . . . ?” And on her thoughts ran, along with her feet to dust off the TV base and move the piles.

Mixing her powdered bone broth with the boiling water from the teakettle, she mused again, “This is how I feel – all mixed up!” In her hurry she began gulping down the ricotta. Oh, she loved the creamy taste, and the fact it was a no muss, no fuss fast breakfast. While her mind swirled as she gulped away, a thought dawned above her chaos: “This is what happens when you overeat. You are swirling in your head instead of paying attention and experiencing what is going in your mouth!” At that very same moment a near choking sensation arose in her throat. “Of, gag!” she thought with alarm. “Am I really going to choke on this ricotta? Have I just packed my throat full so quickly that I haven’t really swallowed? Can I swallow now? Can I swallow now? Can I swallow now?”

Happily, swallow she did. It caused her pause, slowed her frenzy down. Taking her hot drink to her office she settled in her quiet chair to really begin her morning. To ask the LORD into her day, to consciously praise and wait on Him. And to write what ever came to mind. “Well, that was close! Thank you I am still breathing, LORD! ‘Death By Ricotta’ has a catchy sound to it. If I were a mystery writer that could be interesting. Hmmm. . . “

Marinating in The Balm of Gilead

Whenever I hear “the balm of Gilead” I recall fond memories as a choir girl singing that old old spiritual. Little did I fully understand the meaning of the word Gilead, and what the balm of it was all about. Yet I knew there was something surely special about that balm for people to sing such a soulful song.

Was it a bit like the “Nestea Plunge”? For those of you not old enough to remember, imagine yourself standing on the edge of a large pool, wide goofy smile on your face, and free-falling backwards into cool, refreshing iced tea! Yes, it was a great TV ad, and very memorable to watch, for it still comes to mind at the most random times. Something told me, though, that the balm of Gilead was much more soothing than refreshing iced tea. Something that quenched much deeper, that addressed needs far beyond one’s physical thirsts.

Historical Gilead was located in a mountainous region of modern Northwest Jordan, east of the Jordan River and north of the Dead Sea. In ancient times the resins of specific flowering trees or shrubs were harvested to make rare perfumes and special ointments that were widely known for their healing properties. Yet even in Old Testament times, the precious balm made in Gilead could not heal the underlying cause of sickness in God’s people. They struggled, like a delirious patient unwilling to accept curative medicine, rebelliously turned against God’s ways, unwilling to yield to His solution, receive His prescription for wellness. So on humanity went, living in sickness and futility, becoming more and more gravely ill, until the Great Physician declared, “Enough!” Holy intervention was needed.

The spiritual reservoir of one’s life, oft overlooked as we scurry through our days, is where the true Balm of Gilead needs to be applied. This is where one in reality may marinate in the healing Balm. Marinating is to enhance flavor, tenderize. It’s purpose is to penetrate deep within to cause positive change. It is into one’s spiritual reservoir where all our soul-sickness dwells, that the Balm of Gilead does its work. One may be aware of the hurts of pain, pride, shame, lies, abuse, torturous thoughts or actions, ridicule, humiliation, embarrassment, fears, wrongdoings, and sins of all kinds that plague us as they rise into our conscious minds. Such thoughts taunt us, remind us of our depravity. No matter how hard we try, we are unable to save and heal ourselves, no more than could those people of long ago. No matter our heart-felt efforts, still we fall short.

But for God. In His infinite mercy and grace He has provided a solution for our terminal condition. This is what He has shown me: The Balm of Gilead – God Himself through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ whose Holy Spirit actually lives within each believer- is offered freely to all who would accept. Only this Balm will heal all our diseases, all our hurts, heal our souls. And in His presence we are invited to marinate, every moment, every day of our lives here on earth and then on into life everlasting. He has come offering Himself. He has come with life poured out. He has come with healing assured. He is the Source of life and love Himself. Indeed, the Balm to heal our sin-sick souls.

I bid you to sing that timeless spiritual, and invite the Balm of Gilead to marinate deeply in your soul. (The chorus below is in bold type. The final verse is of the updated version.) May His healing Balm bring you peace.


There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead,
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.

(Chorus)

If you cannot preach like Peter,
If you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all.

(Chorus)

Don't ever feel discouraged,
‘Cause Jesus is your friend,
And if you lack for knowledge,
He'll not refuse to lend.

(See: Hymnary.org and Wikipedia )

The Balm of Gilead

She had stood tall, proclaimed her thoughts, and found herself cast out into a wilderness place. She had been brave voicing her opinions to her father, the unchallenged patriarch of the family. Her opinion defied his, valid though it was. Now here she was, in a valley of dry bones. Bones not literally that she could see, but a representation of how she felt. Void of water, void of life, void of the love of her father. She had never in all her years experienced such a thing. It was horrible; it was desolate. It was like a living death. She had an inkling that perhaps she knew a hint of what Jesus might have felt when, crucified, He cried, “My Father! Why hast Thou forsaken me?”

In her mind’s eye a vision arose, brief but poignantly clear. The desolation, the isolation; she felt bereft. A valley, arid and dead, parched with heat where nothing grew. Yet she held to her decision. She must. Did she have the right to her own opinion? Yes; yes, she did. And as an adult, married woman, it was high time she exercised her right.

The days wore on and the woman walked on, one foot in the busyness of her growing family’s life, and the other in the grief of separation from her father. She knew not if he would ever speak to her again. Yet to stand her ground she felt hesitant to approach him. It was a quandary for her, especially as both their personalities were strong and very much alike. What was a daughter to do? She prayed continually, sought her husband’s counsel, and after nearly two weeks, that of a counselor at their church. “Write your father a letter,” she was told. “Affirm to him how much you love him, and that you hope your relationship can be restored. Ask him to contact you by a certain date, and if he chooses not to, that you will know he has rejected you.”

With no little anxiety the woman penned and mailed that letter. Her heart ached with sadness, and hope, as she waited restlessly for his response. Then suddenly the very next day the phone rang. “Oh, my daughter! I love you so!” Oh, such words! A balm to her ears, to her heart, to her soul. Like the precious healing ointment of old, the balm of Gilead, the true healing balm that only comes from the love of the Heavenly Father had been poured over her through her earthly father, filling and nourishing those dry, barren places, filling the wastelands of her heart, and anointing joy to her spirit once again. She felt whole suddenly. For through her suffering she had learned this truth: we are created to live in the grace and blessings of the Father, the Source of all life, in Him, the very Balm of Gilead. Indeed, to marinate to the depths of our spirit and soul in His love. For without Him we cannot be whole.

On Point

She whirled around and around, ever faster and faster it seemed. Mesmerized by the grace of her movement one could not help but wonder how she could stay upright. Dizziness surely would be her prize, a sense of disorientation like children spinning, wobbling, staggering with laughter. And still she whirled on, missing not a step as the music soared.

“All right, I’m coming!” yelled Mica. Dragging backpack behind him, his bare feet testament he was still not ready to go, heralded another delay in getting out the door. It was kind of like herding cats, catching tadpoles by hand, scurrying after anything that was just out of reach. This scenario played out every single day, just one of many plates Allison juggled to keep life moving forward and balanced. More than once her limits were tested, still she kept her focus. She had to make this work. She could not lose this boy again.

Mica safely deposited at preschool, Allison hurried on to the dance studio. Living life on her own since the loss of their parents, she was determined she would raise her young brother. He would not be sent to live with strangers, and certainly not their distant cousin Felix and his shrewy wife. Sure, they were related, but something about the couple always gave Allison the creeps. “Nope, he’s not going there. Ever!” On she plodded, renewed in her resolve. She and Mica were a team. Brother and sister bound together by blood, and grief.

Allison had just finished college when their parents died. A car wreck on I-90. During early winter. A huge pile-up of semi’s, and vehicles of all sizes, drivers hurrying to somewhere. A freak ice storm had glazed the road and suddenly chaos claimed the lives of many. Allison and Mica were home waiting their parent’s return when the awful news came. And since then their worlds had been spinning.

Convincing the courts she could indeed care for her brother had been a hard won battle. Mica had been swept away by CPS until she could prove her ability to provide for him. It had taken months to work through the legal labyrinth of details. But, thankfully, with their parent’s forethought of wise investments, and a mortgage-free home, there was a financial cushion to start from. Her job with the studio provided just enough income to meet their needs, and finally Allison had been declared Mica’s legal guardian. Yet, she felt Big Brother was always watching, ready to snatch him away again if she did not stay on point.

On point. An exquisite place to be as a dancer. Only a few inches connecting one’s body to the earth, allowing whirling and spinning as a perfectly balanced top. It is glorious, that feeling of freedom. One could take flight. Allison had been practicing this maneuver of dance most of her life. She had learned early in her career the secret all ballerinas knew. How to stay upright, and secure in your position in space, while whiling around and around. A point of focus was paramount, With each revolution her eyes returning to a fixed position, a grounded spot, a point of reference. Without it the spinning dancer would lose their way, unraveling like a ball of yarn. Allison had an anchor sure, deep within her, and a point of focus that never wavered. And though she was spinning, or life was spinning around her, she knew she was steady, on point.

While life is spinning in my world I remember the need for a steady, focal point. Even the earth, spinning on its axis, has the sun as the focal point around which it travels. It is a built-in reality of our existence, so large and so small we might not realize it. Still it is there, and we are certainly aware of it when suddenly thrown off balance! I believe in my whirling dance I have found my secure point of reference. I hope you, too, have found yours!

Impatient’s Folly

“Hurry! Time’s awaistin’! Just get ’er done!” Ever had the dogs of impatience nipping at your heels, or worse yet, screaming in your head? Sure there are times when expedience is paramount, even life-saving. Yet much of life does not require such a high adrenaline response. Or the demand to chugga-chugga-chugga to produce-produce-produce when there’s really no gas in one’s tank.

That old phrase, “I want patience – NOW!” resonates deeply within us when we run up against the wall that won’t move, the solution that just won’t come, and the ongoing waiting-waiting-waiting, forever it seems. Should I be surprised that the birth of a dream, or of any endeavor, might take awhile? Most births in the natural world take time: humans – about 9 months (274 days); African elephants – 600-750 days; mice – 20-23 days. If you are a Virginia opossum you might win the shortest mammalian gestation time of 12-13 days, only to take second place to the striped-face dunnart (an Australian marsupial mouse) delivering at 11 days. And in each of these created beings, can hurrying or impatience speed up the process of gestation? (No!) Of course even these may need defer to others with shorter gestation times in the various phylum of creation, all only to bow to the Creator who created man in less than a day, and the whole of the universe in 6 days! Imagine!

Impatience, like a whirly-gig, spins and spins. Sometimes it throws me out of kilter, churning up emotions that needed not be ruffled. It certainly does not further my hopes; it just gives me a headache, or ekes out in irksome ways. It might turn me onto a path of unforeseen consequences that I will regret. In all, no matter what, there seems to be a lesson waiting, if I would slow down to grasp it.

Happily, no matter how unwise I have been in my choices, there is still hope. Like a silly top spinning til it drops, I can rest in my paused position. And learn. See the reality of where I’ve landed; honestly embrace who I am and what my choices have birthed; and cling to hope as I lean into the truths of lessons awaiting me.

“You really screwed up this time! There’s no going back now! You’ve really let us down!” Our minds, invaded by whispers of the enemy of our souls, will pick away at our embarrassment and humiliation, whenever we think we have failed. It’s like double-speak. We were supposed to hurry it up, and now we’ve screwed up? No wonder God wants us to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a, NKJV). To take the time to slow down and listen to Him. To learn the sound of His voice so we are not confused when a plethora of other voices shout directions. It is here in God’s peace that we may overcome impatient’s folly, or any other reason we find for the mess we’re in. Standing before Him, whether for admonition or solace, the love of a good God never fails to comfort us.

Divide and Conquer

The day promised to be warm. Still May, temperatures crept up only to plummet again without warning. Not unusual for Idaho, but much different than those very predictable four seasons I remember as a child. One thing certainly has not changed. The tenacity of grass invading the flower borders. “Be sure every white root is pulled out of the ground,” Mother instructed me long ago. “It will grow new grass if left there.” I hear her voice every time I go out to pull new weeds. They reproduce faster than rabbits; I wish I could chase them away as quickly!

It was cool yet this morning, in the mid-fifties. There were a few hours til the sun would invade my shaded place and heat me as well as the air. Grateful for that presumed “gleaning gene,” the one that gives the ability to work bent in half at the waist, I began, nearly standing on my head to pull the offending blades. Encircling the ornamental cherry tree in our yard, a lovely grouping of violas have overwintered two seasons and are thriving. Nice large clumps still beg for more plants to join their colorful parade, violas and pansies lifelong favorites for both my husband and me. And as I dug and hacked away at the clay soil, a bit of weedy inspiration popped into my mind: divide and conquer. Such a simple and time worn concept, yet interesting to see played out in the garden.

It was a battle. Invading grass versus violas. Five of the six clumps of violas were full and standing strong. The sixth, while healthy and robust, had obviously been fighting a battle against invading grasses into it’s core. No wonder it was a smaller clump and misshapen. The grasses had snuck their tendrils into the whole of the clump and set up camp. It was a chore rooting the offenders out without harming the viola. A delicate surgical procedure of divide and conquer, a counterattack to the kind the grasses had launched.

It was not long after standing upside down performing this act of mercy that my back demanded a different approach. Out came the collapsible garden stool, a green one, like the kind you see old folks using. One position cushions the legs for kneeling; flipped over it becomes a handy stool. With relief, and zero embarrassment, I sat on the stool and worked on. My disclaimer as the stool wobbled under me: “If this stool bucks me off, it’s because the ground is uneven” . . . I wondered then who or what was conquering whom in this “divide and conquer” scenario! Still in the end, about two hours later, I had won! I could still stand up and walk, the viola had been freed, and the flower bed looked grand!

Slowly I am becoming smarter. After the next visit to the market a squirt bottle, a jug of vinegar, liquid Dawn dish soap, and salt stand at the ready for my DIY weed/grass killer. I found the recipe online, my secret weapon to keep winning this game! My back already is thanking me!

Flawed Paintings

The spot was dark, bleeding over and around the other brilliant colors in the painting. Somehow the flaw had overcome the lighter shades, and ran like rivulets throughout the work. It was heart-wrenching for the painter to watch his ideal marred. The consequences were dire, yet even so he could not bear to throw this work away. There was still beauty and story to be found in it.

The overall damage was irreparable it seemed. All of his works were to be reviewed, including this one. Would he be judged for the flaw, or the incredible beauty still within this masterpiece, and in his other works? Only time would tell, for there seemed to be raging in the art world a thunderous tug-of-war for who would control the standards and values that would determine how all art would be taught, judged, displayed, allowed. It was a tense time. Still the artist held true to his values, and with honesty revealed his reflection and understanding of beauty as he saw it. Flaws and all.

It was an interesting fight really. One fought with a double-edged sword, or perhaps a double standard, for those who would judge him were themselves imperfect artists as well. And some not artists at all! But ones who focused on specific types of flaws that deemed another an enemy of sorts, the very root of all that was wrong in the world. It mattered not that people in their own camp had painted, or experienced, the exact same types of imperfections, yet his flaws were somehow more offensive. It seemed odd to him, and sad, as relationships were divided because of it. Focusing on flaws tended to narrow one’s vision, and dull one’s eyes to the great beauty and glorious good still being created in the world. It was a conundrum. Yes, a sad one at that.

Still the artist painted on. There was a spirit that drove him to find beauty and hope in the mundane, to bring it to life for others to see, in those hidden things that surrounded them, wonders so easily missed as they rushed on by. It brought him great joy, even in his own imperfection. He endeavored to improve, to learn from his mistakes, to rectify misrepresentations if his rendering did not give right tribute to his subject. He did his best, learned to live with his limitations, and to grow beyond them. He hoped the world would cast not away the foundational values of art, but would hold tightly to learning how to blend colors, correct and forgive one another’s failings and those unexpected flaws that randomly appeared, and encourage dialogue among all. It was a place to practice love in an oft unloving world. With a courage from beyond himself, he displayed his works; and walked away, to paint again.

After A Rain

Oh, the smell of rain washed air 
Cleansing waters everywhere
Earth proudly wearing finery
Birds chorusing in harmony

Just stepping on the garden path
Brings solace to my weariness
I think I’ve been inside too long
I need to hear God’s nature song

Sunlight shines on raindrops clear
Kissing flowers, leaves, all near
Drinking heaven’s cheer to fill
Bursting glories blooming still

Pulling weeds, yes, has its place
To urge me from my quiet nest
To work outside and dwell awhile
In God’s majestic nature smile