Jack nimbly climbed the sunflower stalk
The prize in sight his aim
Reaching long up its full height
Plucked a flower head quite clean
“Come look and see,” husband exclaimed
“He’s grabbed it with his mouth”
Us too slow from laughing hard
Lost pic of Jack going south
With a scamper, a victory hop
Mouth stuffed full with flower head
Jack swished his bushy tail then
Across the arbor fence he fled
Stopping once to taste his prize…
Could the mystery be finally hacked?
Who planted those surprise flower seeds?
Was it our friend Squirrelly Jack?
This poem is also posted on
6 Word Poetry #85 of the fabulous website
My Life in Our Father’s World.
Check it out for fun and inspiration at
A Thing About Obedience
“I don’t like the word ‘obedience,’” spouted one of our young grands. Trying to wrangle several children who would rather play than help with chores was a bit like herding cats, or little mice! When such a teachable moment dashed across the floor, this old cat pounced!
“Hmmm…I wonder what that word really means?” I dramatically pondered aloud. Curiosity capturing us, Webster app at the ready, we took a peek.
Obedience is usually thought of in a negative sense as being forced to do something someone else insists we do. The more positive meaning embraces how we respond, how we manage ourselves, and with what kind of attitude. Webster outlines obedience as a bending, a yielding, a willingness to follow. As the young ones contemplated these more positive thoughts, and the fact that their freedom to choose was a big part of it, we dove into the monumental tasks of picking up toys, vacuuming, loading the dishwasher, cleaning rooms and bathrooms, and keeping the laundry going.
Throughout the day each of the aspects of bending, yielding, and willingness were evident. Of course, eliminating the deadly distraction of phones and iPads helped the effort tremendously, as did adding music, silliness, and a bit of dancing to turn up enthusiasm. In their freedom to exercise independence, reminders to help them refocus were necessary to encourage willing hearts. With grace and patience with one another we accomplished our goal, and surprised a tired Momma, anticipating two-week company the next day, with the gift of a clean house.
The fact that the day ended on a happy note was a tremendous relief as we rested chatting together. Hopefully, by overcoming the perceived overwhelm in small bites, the children realized chores were less torturous than imagined, and a sense of accomplishment was gained as little tasks were completed. I was so proud of their efforts, and especially each of them choosing as they did to participate.
Though this day happened long ago, the memories remind me that these insights apply to old people as well. And of the patience of a good God who helps us refocus again and again on His truths, learning as He comes alongside us throughout all life’s challenges, that He, indeed, is Worthy to be followed, and obeyed.
LORD, thank You that you give us direction to mature us wholly in our human and spiritual lives. Thank You, Father, for the freedom of choice You have given us, and Your patient love when we refuse to listen. Forgive our prideful arrogance. Help us realize we are your children, no matter our earthly age. Give us willing hearts to listen, and the delight of living with You in harmony and obedience. Let us laugh in Your presence with the joyous, pure abandon of a child. Amen.
Romans 6:16 NKJV “16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”
Psalm 119:4-6 “You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently. 5 Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes! 6 Then I would not be ashamed,
When I look into all Your commandments”
Matthew 18:2-3 “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
She was caught in the act, roughly snatched from her lover’s embrace and dragged naked by her accusers to be judged. The rule of the day: death.
Humiliation covered her shame as she was thrust forward. The sun had warmed the ground, her feet barely aware.
“What about her?”
Challenging glares and upturned chins confirmed the religious leaders’ belligerence. She stood there as accusers’ words pierced her soul. True words, but oh how they hurt as she stood naked for all to see, to be judged, no one to defend her. And that lover? He had fled. She was but a commodity, a sacrificial lamb. She waited, eyes downcast as her accusers pronounced their verdict to the Judge.
“The law says to stone those caught in adultery. What do you say?”
A cloak was thrown over her from someone in the crowd…perhaps by another who had sought her arms in the night?
The Judge gazed at her. He knew full well why she was displayed before Him, the intent of men’s hearts clearly seen. He was the one on trial. Again and again they tested his wisdom, a self-righteous lot who were slow to understand. As the Judge listened and saw truth of the matter, He bent down and drew words in the sand while the accusers pelted Him with testing questions.
The woman’s gaze stayed on His hands as questions coursed through her mind. What are You doing? What are You writing? She longed to ask, muted by fear. Calmly the Judge stood as His eyes of truth searched the woman and each man before Him.
“If any among you is without sin, he may cast the first stone.“
No one moved as the accusers’ murmurings and frenzied hatred quieted, seemingly blown away on the breeze. The Judge bent down to write in the sand again, waiting. The woman, too, knew the law. She trembled uncontrollably, bracing herself for the cruel blows that would finally take her life. The Judge looked into her frantic eyes with patience and compassion. Shards of light began to penetrate the walls of defense she had lived in for years. What? What? Why aren’t the stones hitting? All she heard was the quiet shuffling of feet as one by one her accusers slowly slipped away.
“Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one thrown a stone at you?”
“No, Master, no, not one.”
“Neither do I. Now go, and sin no more.”
Never had anyone spoken to her in this way. Addressed her in a way that inferred she was valuable. Love and compassion filled her emptiness. This was different from the affirmation she sought in lovers, who left her used, diminished, and cast aside. Realization rose like the dawning sun, the darkness of her life fading away in the ever increasing light. She had escaped death! She was forgiven! She smiled as joy began to fill her. She felt it now, deep within her very bones as waves of healing warmth washed over and through her. She gazed in wonder at the Judge, who asked nothing from her for himself. Her heart soared with hope, hope that indeed she could be rid of feelings, habits, practices that sucked the very life from her. She had been made new! LORD, really? Can it be true? Though she had not uttered her thoughts, He knew.
“Yes, Woman, neither do I condemn you. Follow me and you shall have the light of life!”
Who are my accusers? Who is my judge? With all the accusations against me can I put myself in this woman’s place, and accept the same verdict from the Righteous Judge?
LORD, each of us are guilty. As we stand naked before You may we see Your compassion and love as You cover us in Your righteousness, paying the penalties for our sins. Thank You for Your forgiveness, for redeeming us, making us new. Please teach and help us each to walk in that new life. Amen.
John 8:10-12 NKJV “10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” 12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Psalms 86:5 “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“Come on, Rocky! Come on!” she cried. “Hurry up!”
“No! No!!” he said shaking his head.
“But…p l e a s e…this is important!”
“I won’t do it,” he said, reluctantly.
Grabbing his arms the young girl literally dragged her second grade classmate, his body and feet flailing, his red hair and freckles nearly glowing with indignation, across the lawn. Determined and insistent, there was no way she was letting go. They needed to do this…it was the proper thing to do! Finally, she had him where she wanted him… Would he bolt and run? She hung on, waiting as they both calmed.
As she slowly released him he said not a word, his fate sealed. With nowhere to go but up, he slowly stood, brushed the grass off his clothes, threw back his shoulders as though nothing unusual had happened, and in his most polite, formal voice introduced himself.
“Hello. I’m Rocky. It’s very nice to meet you.”
The girl’s mother smiled kindly in reply, “Hello, Rocky. It’s very nice to meet you, too.”
Somehow that gracious lady, always careful to never add to another’s embarrassment, kept herself from laughing, even with delight, at the children’s intensity and unconventional approach.
The air seemed to sigh in relief as the three chatted, the girl’s mother eventually kneeling back down to weed the flowers. The sun shone on, nary a shadow marring the grass where the children had tromped and dragged over it. Later, the initial drama apparently forgotten, Rocky headed home, congenially waving goodbye as he ambled down the road. A wonder he didn’t run!
Relationships can be messy, especially when self wants to be in control. It’s a hard thing learning proper manners, but even more challenging to learn to love properly…caring for one another and interacting in godly ways. As in a choreographed dance God’s patient instructions introduce the steps, teaching us to move together in harmony rather than overpowering each other, or stepping on each other’s toes. Praise God for His infinite wisdom and care, that He keeps teaching us how to live well together in relationship.
Manners were a big thing when I was growing up. Though enthusiastically dragging and depositing my friend at my mother’s feet was not at all mannerly, I will never forget how Rocky’s politeness and composure won the day. Happily, he and I remained friends, though we drifted apart over time. I wonder what he would say were he to tell the story. I’m trusting he forgave me long ago. God bless you, Rocky!
LORD, too often in our rush to do things our way we roll over the feelings and thoughts of others. Help us to slow down and learn of Your perfect ways of relationship. Thank You that Your Word never changes, that the precepts You have given are to grow us up to become more like Jesus. Give us open hearts to learn what You would have us understand, that Your purpose of redemption in this world may begin and grow in each of us. Thank You, LORD, for what You are going to do. We praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
Romans 12:10 “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;”
Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Get Up and Walk!
Thinking about our grandson’s requirement to get up and walk after thoracic surgery, I could imagine his pain and the natural guardedness one has when asked to get out of bed and move. Bearing that pain, anticipating more pain, taking courage, receiving help from others, rising up, taking the first step… Like the pain of surgery, infirmities, tragedies, disappointments, griefs and sorrows, can trip us up, weigh us down, paralyze us. Weariness and discouragement, even despondency, may serve for a time as a blanket for one to rest in contemplation, gain strength to get up, heal, and renew in order to take life on again. Or it can trap us there.
I wonder if the paralytic who Jesus commanded to “take up your bed and walk,” was not only healed of obvious physical limitations, but also of hidden mental restrictions. What if doubts and despondency had swayed his course, given him pause, or stopped him altogether, allowing hopelessness to settle in during his thirty-eight years of waiting for healing, paralyzing his mind in his situation as well?
“Take up your bed and walk” is a command that demands my contemplation. Do I want to rise up beyond where I am? Do I choose to get up? What does that mean for me? Will I be swept away into the busyness of life, torn out as by a riptide? Tossed too and fro beyond my abilities to cope? Put on display or asked to do or be more than I am? Asked to give up things or familiar ways I insist on keeping to start life differently? It is a fearsome thing to be commanded to “get up and walk” if one must do so alone, or in their own power.
Facing our personal brokenness is oft’ denied in an effort to appear okay on the outside in order to gain or maintain acceptance, affirm we are valued, and are loved. From infancy there is an inherent lifelong need of interactive love in order to thrive. Do we ignore the truth of our reality saying, “I’m fine,” in our desperation to be liked?
Perhaps for some “get up and walk” is a matter of shucking off unintentional or purposeful insults and hurts caused by others, a suit of “mental Teflon”helping to soften or deflect those blows. For others, overcoming physical injuries and infirmities, griefs of losing loved ones, failures of expectations, loss of material comforts or sustenance is a process that takes time, tears, patient endurance and courage to walk into the future. Some, bound by lucrative, sinful lifestyles, are imprisoned by choice – or by force, remaining trapped, paralyzed by hope-less-ness. While others, whose spirits refuse to be kept bound by their brokenness, find a way to achieve vistas beyond one’s imagining. Recognizing our brokenness, and being willing to open the door to new life, is paramount to “getting up.” God gives us the choice.
Herein is the blessing of knowing Jesus as a Person, not just Jesus Christ as an object of conversation, but the Person who died to restore God’s relationship with mankind. Jesus who died for us, rose again…who got up from death itself and walked! Who desires an intimate interactive relationship with each of us personally. Yes, rising up and walking may be fearsome, taken with wobbly, tentative steps. Yet we are never alone. Christ’s Holy Spirit comes to abide in those who invite Him in. The Source of Life Himself bids us to get up and walk, through His strength…He has conquered every thing that keeps us down…and calls us to get up and follow Him. He is with us every step of the way.
LORD, help me to open my broken heart to You. You know me better than I know myself, and how to rise up. I’m stuck. I don’t know how. Please speak to me, take my hand, lift me, give me the strength to live beyond these paralyzing things. If others are needed to help me up, please send just the right person(s) and help me accept what I might need. I love You, LORD. I trust in You. Into Your hands I give you this…and me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 5:2-9 NKJV “ Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.
A Tough Nut to Crack
Imprisoned in a rigid shell
Protected from external force
The meat, the heart of the nut
Grew surrounded very well
Defended from all foe
Thinking it was self-contained
It realized not the greater strains
That exert great pressure
Causing change by measure
Beyond what it did know
Fearful of much transformation
Holding sense of stiff control
It toughened more it’s outer shell
Hardened its own heart as well
Thick layers to protect
How can a fruitful lovely tree
Grow from stubborn gnarly seed
That kicks and fights against the goad
Will not open or unfold
Remains hard, unyielding
Not ‘til comes to end of self
When the shell is finally cracked
Can the essence trapped inside
Flavor of the hearty meat
Its blooming be released
What kind of nut am I, LORD
One whose shell is sealed hard
Or willingly a softer kind
Your redemption yields in time
At last a tendered heart
Matthew 13:15 NKJV
“For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’”
“The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.”
Entrusting with Hope
So many parents share our hurt
A child now grown throws us away
Rejects love, the blessings given
Denying good we’ve brought her way
It hurts, LORD, this rejection deep
So well You know the pain we feel
Shock, confusion settling in
Before air clears to see it’s real
Now we must forgive ourselves
Of imperfections, hurts we set
In the efforts of raising four
Hoping overall to bless
Yes, they’re free to stay or go
In relationship or not
Still when that babe we bore and love
Shuts the door, it hurts a lot
What of the grands she takes with her
What have we done, this knife she’s thrust
Into the very hearts of us
Severed all our love in trust
Longsuffering comes to our minds
Perceiving more than before
Waiting hope through endless time
For that day of unlocked door
Is this how You wait, LORD
Yearning for mankind’s return
To fellowship with You once more
Blessings given again again
Give us wisdom, LORD, we pray
Wisdom, strength to walk this path
Protect loved ones gone astray
Reconcile, restore at last
May in hers and theirs some day
If, LORD, not in our lifetimes
Your spring of Love that does sustain
Nourish their souls, hearts, and minds
We give them full to You, our God
These precious gifts You gave to us
No higher power can we entrust
This precious family held in Love
Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Of Dogs and Humans
Recently watching Cesar Millan, infamous “dog whisperer,” brought to mind the simplicity of resolving those fearful, gnarled things within ourselves. Receiving chaotic emotional cues from their owners, fearful, anxious canines remain confused, even aggressive, and uncontrolled until their pack leaders, their masters, overcome their own fears and anxieties in order to lead their dogs into relaxed “calm surrender,” a term Mr. Millan used to describe a dog’s final release of anxiety.
I cannot help but see the parallels in human behavior while seeking to find inner peace in an anxious, frightful world. Though we consider ourselves the consummate masters of our lives, we are not. Things, people, situations beyond our command exert influence over us, and we must discern wisely: Where is our anxiety coming from? Who are we being asked to follow? Are we being manipulated, blindly led, or forced to submit? Though given various freedoms of choice (think short leash, long leash, longer leash, off leash) there are ultimately those who would rule us.
Love, respect, trust. Mr. Millan’s application of this simple formula has such incredible results. With patience he demonstrates how the biting, overpowering dog can be brought into “calm surrender” to a loving master who has overcome the fearful things, who infuses peace, builds respect, fosters trust by assuring the one following that, indeed, all is well. Fear and hyper-vigilance are transformed into peace as the anxious one’s attention is brought back repeatedly to his master’s calm, until finally the angst is given up.
Each day I must remind myself, “Who is my master?” Am I driven by fear? Am I trying to be my master, lost in subjectivity and limitations? Is another human orchestrating my thoughts and every move, dictating my life? Is my employer or the government of the country in which I live programming my decisions? Is a religious leader stirring up emotional responses rather than teaching truth of the personal love God has for us? Who or what is my master today? “Be still! Fear not!” These are words that my Master, Jesus, speaks to me to calm my soul, bidding I take my eyes off fearsome chaos and look at Him, tap into His calm, listen as He whispers to me, and leads me.
Love, respect, trust. We are each given opportunity to learn the truth of those three relational words. Someone or some thing is guiding our souls. May your master love you fully, be worthy of respect, and prove to be steadfastly trustworthy. One who will lead you through all the chaos of this world, freeing you from your prisons of fear with a firm and gentling hand, who knows the way through the mess, and can command with just a word, “Peace! Be still!” May we choose wisely whom we follow.
Mark 4:39 NKJV “39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Psalms 46:10a “10 Be still, and know that I am God”
Two Sides of One Coin
It hit me like a head-sized bubble one morning. That thing about opposites attracting, people somehow magnetically binding together so strongly one can hardly pull them apart…unless they get backwards. Then their magnetic forces push them apart, not unlike those magnets we played with as kids.
A friend recently posted a Facebook comment about positive and negative mindsets. Positive finding opportunities. Negative finding fault. It has been bubbling in my mind as I consider the differences in people’s personalities, attitudes, ways of responding to life challenges. How mindsets attract or repel us from one another. How both play within each us, variably.
Interesting how things we like or dislike about others resonate so deeply. Cause such a passionate response. Attract or repel so strongly. When negative stuff in another begins to repel me, there must be something down deep inside that recognizes that force in them. Else wise, why am I repelled? How often am I repelled by positive traits? Oops! Do I have more negativity in me than I thought?
The bubble popped while I was contemplating a dear one’s personality. My pointy finger at them showing three pointing back at me was true again. Forgive me, LORD, for my attitudes of negativity. I can neither fully understand myself, let alone another. It is beyond my ability. I am two sides of one coin. Only You understand and know the mysterious mix of what makes each of us unique. Thank You that every person is a priceless treasure to You. Help me to love others with Your love, grace, forgiveness, and unending patience…just as You love me.
Psalms 139:23-24 NKJV “Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
Visits at the Wood Shop
The old man showed up faithfully. Not a set schedule, unless a project was in the works. Woodworking allowed his strong hands to feel the timbre of the wood, to grow in his mastery of creating, honing and shaping, fitting and joining, sanding and smoothing, then finishing all with protective oil or sheen. All this springing out of an idea, a plan that he pictured in his mind. It was his happy place, even when the wood bowed, the saw bound, the plans challenged. Adjustments, and the practice of patient endurance, accompanied him overcoming every unexpected detour, worth the effort for the final joy of a well built, beautiful project. He blessed many with his offerings of useful and lovely things, his presence in the shop a blessing, too.
“You going to see your grandkids today?” became the barista’s usual morning greeting when the old man stopped at the drive-through. If yes, the barista knew what to add to the order. Some days nothing more than coffee…it depended.
Some of the old man’s family had bought his previous residence, his wood shop now part of their massive renovated garage. Respecting their privacy he’d text to let them know he was there, rather than intruding into their space. A quiet presence, he was available if someone wanted to chat. If not, he’d finish his tasks, text he was leaving and be on his way.
He missed the frequent visits when the grandkids were younger. Now in school with their parents working, it was tough to lose those precious times of fellowship. Time sped up with the passing of years. Soon those young ones would have no need for their old relatives, too busy with their interests. But not yet. Not today. Quiet feet skipped across the shop room floor. One of the happiest sounds in the universe, accompanied with smiles and hugs from precious grands.
“Hi, Papa! Did you bring mints today?” The old man reached deep into his pocket for the expected treat. If no pre-plans for muffin tops, hot chocolate, smoothies, egg sandwiches, or breakfast burritos, mints were his backup. The two younger hung around a bit, thanked him, then scooted off to play. The oldest stayed wanting to chat. It had been a good long while since the man and this granddaughter had had a good visit. Sitting next to each other on the two shop chairs the conversation ensued, interrupted only when the dogs needed fed. Continuing after, the two laughed and cried together for two hours, their tete-a-tete long overdue.
Even in those days when no one had time or interest for a visit, Papa worked at the shop just the same. His love for his family was deep and rich. He’d worked his life for the good of all of his family, caring, teaching, giving. His love never changed though life spun them away to live their own. Still, a yearning to share time with them remained, their presence a solace to his soul.
There is a place deep within one’s soul
Filled only with tender sweet repose
Timeless sharing with loved ones dear
Filling empty places one’s heart knows
A knitted tapestry’s woven threads
Strung on the loom from one’s birth
Inextricably linked through time
Though spaced just so by the weaver’s hand
Colors rich make the beautiful scene
Some bright with light contrast shadows dark
Yet still the threads are juxtaposed
Part of a glorious work of art
Wait patiently long woven threads
To intersect with newer ones
If greatly spaced in the grand design
You’re woven still through the end of time
1 Corinthians 13: 8a NKJV
“Love never fails.”
Cloud of Witnesses
How interesting to be living in modern times. So much effort to replicate God’s great design. If only man’s efforts were all for godly purposes, and not so often for selfish gain.
Infused with creativity in the image of the Creator, replicating and fashioning is a part of what we do. It is built into our DNA. It’s only when we become full of ourselves, instead of filling up on God, that things spiral out of control. Like the earth deciding to spin off it’s axis, catapulting from what grounds its purpose and course, cataclysmic results would occur… think of a gigantic wayward bowling ball warp speeding through the universe. The potential wrecking effect is the same for ourselves when we go it alone, careening and screaming into the dark.
But for God. Hebrews 12:1 talks about a “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us, those in the unseen who are cheering us on and praying for us, urging us to continue the race, to keep going through all the hard stuff, the dark times where we are unsure, uncertain, lost. Happily, even in dark, dim, or twilight times, we are never alone… though we have a hard time seeing.
After asking for prayer from an online group, in just a few hours I had dozens of responses from people I have never met. Yet as Christ followers we are sisters and brothers, all members of God’s family, depending on Him to see us home. In reading over their prayers and encouragements, Hebrews 12:1 came to mind… a modern day example of a “cloud of witnesses” right here on earth. Others who also have experienced the reality and power of God working in their lives, who have found through walking in faith that He is indeed trustworthy through everything one experiences…and that, one person at a time, only Christ’s final payment defeats the sin and evil within man that pours into and endeavors to overtake the world.
A cloud. Prayers heard through a modern day “cloud,” joining those praying from the unseen. Another reminder that the race we are called to run, to endure, is indeed worth the effort. And along the way God provides evidences of His truth and reality, if we would but look to see Him… everywhere!
Hebrews 12:1-3 NKJV “12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
Enraptured to Destruction
She tittered. He smiled. It was painful, and humorous in a sad sort of way. An older woman tittering over the obviously contrived attention she was receiving from a rich, worldly man who had long ago been her young charge. He had waltzed back into his small community, with an agenda. As I watched this scene from PBS’s Masterpiece television airing of The Indian Doctor, I was impressed with the actors’ fine portrayals of longing and deception. Like Eve, she longed for more. Like the snake, though he smiled, he cared not for her but for his own agenda.
I wonder how pathetic we humans must appear to evil forces as we trade out Kingdom blessings for stolen goods from the enemy. The shiny, tantalizing things that, like the next best fishing lure, dangle before us to reel us in. Promises to fill some wanton need, slack our discontent — or that of others — like a gaping whale mouth ready to swallow us whole.
Her dress suit was yellow, the perfect compliment to her reddish blond hair, coiffed just so. She stood waiting at the curb, like a love-sick teenager, for him to take her to a fancy lunch. To woo her unknowingly into his “great new plan,” the con of the town-folk. It mattered not she was old enough to be his mother. Flattery, a dashing air, and promises captured her.
She stepped into his convertible, her regal stage at last, standing in the supposed admiration of those witnessing her triumph. Queen Mum personified she gave a glorious adieu before slipping into her seat, head held high, suppressing the want to giggle, ready for the wind to blow through her hair. No matter that in her flattered stupor she was being royally driven to grave disappointment and destruction. No matter. He was paying her attention.
James 1:16 NKJV “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
Proverbs 24:1-2 “Do not be envious of evil men,
Nor desire to be with them; 2 For their heart devises violence, And their lips talk of troublemaking.”
Stair Cabin Memories
Quiet stillness, an empty space… she could sense only her own breathing, and subtle waves of air being pushed about by the circulating fan. Then she heard it. The sound of rain gently dropping, crescendoing into pounding torrents. It brought back memories of the stair cabin, a rustic place her parents once owned at the lake.
The children had named it for the mint green painted staircase that led up to the sleeping loft. After climbing the narrow steep steps one had to push upwards, and lock upright, a long heavy trap door that opened to four large sleeping areas, a tiny closet bathroom, and a small private “honeymoon” room. At night the trap door was closed to kept wee ones from tumbling down the stairs, and to conserve downstairs heat in the winter when the loft was unused. Large swing-up windows, facing the lake and at each end of the loft, could be hooked open to let breezes blow through while night sounds of waves lapping the shore bid drowsy heads to dreamland. Sleeping in the loft was an experience every soul should encounter… it was especially comforting when rain pounded down on the metal roof. It sounded warm, a song that enveloped and hugged, that swayed and danced with rest and contentment. No matter thunder or lightening, it was always friendly. Sheltered. Secure. Home.
Those days were filled with promise. Life exploded in that place. Family and friends coming and going, laughter resounding off the walls. It was inviting, cozy, full of happy memories… days overflowing, full of people and doing and togetherness. Busyness of fixing meals, wrangling children and dogs, racing on four wheelers over rutted mountain trails to the old quarry. Jumping off the L-shaped dock into the clear waters of the lake, sinking toes into the silky muddy bottom, sailing or motoring boats across the lake and in and out of the private dock-created cove. Fishing, playing along the sandy beach, climbing the rocky perimeters. And in winter, tubing down the long steep driveway and skiing on the frozen lake. Children’s joy-filled voices brought bright music to life there, many grand memories part of the symphony of that place.
Perhaps with becoming elderly the woman’s empty space was natural. Families and grands busy with their own lives. Friends busy with theirs. She and her husband had somehow become a bit reclusive, content in their solitude. It was comforting in many ways, peaceful in a world of unrest. Still, they weren’t dead yet! As she sat listening to the silence, holding close those vibrant alive days from long ago, she was captured between two realities, a transition of sorts, a space of gratitude and cherished remembering. While the rain continued to fall a lovely thought burst into her mind…those stair cabin days must have been a little piece of heaven, a foreshadowing of more joyous life to come. Yes, surely. Sheltered. Secure. Home.
The bubbling stream babbled on
Relishing the glorious day
Delighted to be waters that
Nourished life along its way
Slow down awhile the eddy called
Come relax a time with me
My waters are serene and calm
Currents that flow pleasantly
I’ll try, the bubbles sparkled back
I’ll flow awhile into your pool
Rest a little in your space
Partake of waters deep in you
Not wanting to decrease the verve
Of bubbling joy that effervesced
In a tranquil welcoming way
The quiet eddy acquiesced
Joined the two in sweet repose
Stories told of journeys won
Symbiotic rebirth shared
Richness to be carried on
The bubbling stream brought new hope
The eddy infused deep life back
To transport far downstream
To new points where waters lacked
Serene or bubbling both import
Commingled for a greater course
Slow and steady or rushing on
These waters from a greater source
What’s the Verdict?
“Boy, my dad is going to lay down the law when I get home. I’m not looking forward to that!”
Thirteen year old Jeremy collapsed into the chair, mortified. Not his first time stealing from the Five and Dime, today he was caught red-handed by the store owner. Sitting with the old gentleman in his office, waiting for his dad to arrive, Jeremy’s imagination ran wild with dread.
“Man, I’m gunna get it!” he lamented.
“Might be,” replied the old man. “Might be.”
The silence was deafening. “Help! Oh, man… help!” coursed through Jeremy’s mind, dread mounting as he heard the pounding of his father’s boots echoing along the corridor.
Mr. Randall Goodnight stood as Jeremy’s dad paused at his door. “Bud, come on in. Have a seat. We need to talk.” With a face of sadness Jeremy’s dad silently looked at his son, then back at the store owner.
“Yes. Reckon we do, Randall,” Bud answered, taking a seat next to Jeremy.
Sweat trickled down the back of Jeremy’s neck. He’d been in hot water before, but not like this. It was one thing to be grounded and have to do extra chores. It was another to face a sign that said, “Shoplifters will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
“What are they going to do to me?” Jeremy silently lamented. He’d heard of kids getting sent to juvy – juvenile detention. “Boy, I don’t want to go there,” he muttered under his breath. “No way.”
“You have something you’re fixin’ to say, son? Now would be a good time to tell us what this stealing is all about.” Jeremy slowly lifted his eyes from his clutched hands to glance at the side of his dad’s face. No way could he look his dad in the eye, shame creeping up to color his neck and cheeks. He felt sick to his stomach, his head pounding like it was going to burst. Man, he wanted to run! How did he get himself in such a mess?
“Dumb. I was just dumb, Dad, thinkin’ I could snitch from the store, and no one would notice. Just… I don’t know, Dad. I have no good reason.”
Randall raised an eyebrow at Bud. Having seen Jeremy steal from the store on several occasions, he had already discussed the issue with Bud, and had been waiting to confront Jeremy. Both adults hoped today would be the start to curing Jeremy’s thieving.
The discussion dragged on and on, Jeremy exhausted by the time he had confessed all the shoplifting he had done, told of everything he had stolen.
“Well, son. Seems like you got yerself in quite a pickle. Mr. Goodnight here has every right to call the police on this. And, frankly, I wouldn’t blame him.”
Jeremy’s breath hitched, his heart rate speeding up again while rants of “caught, tried, crucified” whirled in his mind.
Jeremy’s dad continued, “I’m gunna let Mr. Goodnight decide what he wants to do, if he wants you prosecuted. He’s the one you’ve wronged. He’s the one who will decide.”
Jeremy looked at the floor, fear slithering up his spine as he waited for the verdict. Randall nodded at Bud, then leaned forward and said, “I’ve been thinking about this carefully, Jeremy,” the old man’s eyes piercing right through Jeremy’s defenses. “I care about you, and I’d rather not see you have a police record, or end up someday in juvy. But… there are prices to pay, consequences that naturally happen.”
Jeremy chanced a glance toward Mr. Goodnight, expecting a tongue-lashing at least.
“I want your sincere apology, Jeremy, after you’ve had some time to think this over. Stealing is a serious offense that can lead to even greater crimes. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, it’s your attitude towards others and your respect for them and the law that’s the question here. I’m trusting you to think on this before you apologize. I’m serious.”
“Y-yes, sir,” Jeremy, stunned with a measure of relief, yet at the same time feeling fearfully small, stammered, “Y-yes, sir. I’ll do that.”
“Secondly, your dad and I have discussed how you’re going to pay for all you have stolen. He has already given me permission to order you to work for me this summer.”
Jeremy looked from Mr. Goodnight to his dad, an unspoken question in his eyes.
“That’s right, son. While you work with Mr. Goodnight you’ll naturally have to miss rodeoing. It hurts me something fierce that that’s the case.”
Jeremy wiggled his feet, feeling the need to bolt, but dared not.
“Either you do what Mr. Goodnight has asked, apologizing and working for him, or he can call the police about your stealing. You have a choice. We’ve been watching you, Jeremy. This stealing cannot go on. What are you going to do?”
Jeremy hung his head. Tears wet his eyes as he thought about missing rodeoing. Man, he loved to barrel race. The state-wide rodeo was the highlight of the summer for the small ranching communities in his area, participants coming from miles around. Jeremy’s heart sank as he imagined all he had forfeited. Gosh, if he ended up in juvy he’s miss rodeoing, too. Yup. He had really screwed up by breaking the law. There was no way he could get out of it… he was as guilty as could be.
“Dad, do I really…really have to miss rodeoing?”
“Yes, son, you do. It’s part of the penalty you have to pay for the debt you owe Mr. Goodnight. It’s either that or the police. What’s yer choice?”
Jeremy’s mind was clouded with emotion. As he sat considering his options in the presence of these two honorable men, a path in his darkness started to appear.
“I guess… I guess I’ll… I’ll do what Mr. Goodnight wants… I’m sorry, Mr. Goodnight. I really am.”
“I’m sure you are, Jeremy. You think on that… and be here Monday morning at eight o’clock. We’ll talk more then before you start your work.”
Jeremy nodded as he shuffled out the door, Bud and Randall nodding at each other with pained satisfaction. Yup. The kid was learning a hard lesson, one that had some surprises built in, depending on his choices. That rodeo was still several weeks away… Jeremy’s mind spun. Was there any shred of hope?
Consider this: What’s the verdict? What are the intents of the father and the shop owner through the consequences? How does God treat us—with punishment or rescue? Where does forgiveness come in? What does it look like? We, too, have choices, and consequences.
Prayer: LORD, thank You that You are the perfect Father. No matter our relationships with earthly fathers, You as our Father are so far above what we think and understand. In Your justice and righteousness, let us not forget You are the God of love, mercy, and forgiveness. Draw us close, Father. Help us experience personally Your deep love and compassion. Thank You for loving us enough to discipline us, to help us grow into righteousness. Amen.
John 3:16 NKJV “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Psalms 100:5 “For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.”
The Stubborn Stain
The recliner had been ours for twenty-five or thirty years. Like us, it was now showing its wear: drooping stuffing, a spot rubbed through the leather, joints working loose, the back support giving out. Every time my husband plunked down in it, his special chair, I was thankful its frame held firm. Somehow in its slow demise it was still sturdy. It was a comfy restful place to read, watch the tube, and hold a pile of grandkids. The deep burgundy leather cradled one’s whole being, the winged back sides affording extra built-in head support. Just push on the arms, lean back, and voila! Blissfulness. Until lately.
On a lark hubby and I walked into our favorite furniture clearance center, instantly drawn to the only burgundy recliner in the place…the right color, great price, super supportive, comfortable, our favorite brand, and a rocker feature to boot. We bought it that day. Like dominos continuing to fall in order, delivery the next week allowed for timely carpet cleaning beforehand, and arrangements for a nonprofit to pick up the old well-loved chair.
As we moved the old recliner a red stain in the cream colored carpet beneath it came to light, most likely moisture from the previous carpet cleaning leaching color from one leg. No problem. Surely it would come out, or the new recliner would cover it. The cleaning guy worked his best on the stain, yet it persisted. Certainly something more could be done to erase it.
The next morning the stain dared me to blot it out. A glowing blushing pink smack dab in front of the new chair screamed, “Look at me!” After an hour of focused work with a plethora of cleaning concoctions the blush faded some, but no matter my efforts, the stain was still visible. Perhaps as a “memory spot” it could be a reminder of small children dwarfed in the recliner’s massive leather arms, relishing time in Papa’s chair. Of dear hubby’s enjoyment of naps there; his sitting during many conversations with family and friends; our times of reflection, him with his feet up, me nearby on the couch. I sat in the old chair alone in the dark the last night it was ours remembering so many things, feeling like one of the kids in the chair’s embrace. Solid and secure. So many treasured memories… Mom reclining in it when she visited. So fleeting the passage of time.
Even so, I really did not like seeing that left-over stubborn stain. What if the stain never came out? How to live with an eyesore that refused to be remedied? What if there was nothing humanly possible I could do to make it clean again? Would others judge “my” stain? That thought brought to mind the problem of personal stains and sin. Even traits that appear good can leave unwanted taints in our lives. Interesting how imperfections and the unlovely, ugly sides of us can become so glaring. Subtle things that will not stay buried. Hidden things that come to the surface. Little or big things that mar a person. Perhaps I will miraculously find a final remedy to wash that carpet stain away. If not, like a scar on a lovely face, hopefully it will fade over time.
What about the final solution to remedy one’s soul’s personal stains of wounds, hurts, wrongs, bothersome marring things? Yes, one can put forth effort to improve oneself, but what of those stubborn things that prove o’er and o’er we need deeper help? I have found that Jesus is the perfect solution to wash clean all that defiles, to rid us of our staining sins, visible and invisible, that we can no way humanly correct no matter how hard we try. Being that final miraculous answer that wipes sin away, He is in the business of cleansing us and leading us into healing… wholly!
Psalms 51:1-2 NKJV “Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.”
1 Peter 2:24 “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”
Acts 23:16 “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’”
Looking Into Eyes
Eyes, the window of the soul. I wonder what one sees when enamored with evil things. Is it the mystery, the adrenaline spikes, the merry chase through a glittery labyrinth into deeper and darker things? A sense of power and conquest, of control? The temptation that bids, “come into my parlor” only to find oneself captured, spun into a steely gossamer web, imprisoned in a blink? Then devoured slowly over time as poison dissolves the captured thing ‘til it is no more?
Or when mesmerized by the python, realizing the parlor doors slamming shut were actually wide jaws that have swallowed one whole? We can learn much from how evil stalks, conquers, and consumes by observing animal and insect behavior. Eating and being eaten… just the nature of things.
Humans share understanding of animal behavior. We, too, are made from earthly elements, the nature of things, yet while so like animals in many ways, we are different than them. We are called to a higher existence, to walk in uprightness, to “rule over” the earthly animal kingdom, and to rule over -control- those animalistic tendencies within ourselves. We are also unique in that we are called to worship our Maker. Without the firm yet gentling hand of wisdom we may indeed behave as feral dogs devouring to survive, misguided humans worshipping ourselves, people, ideologies, things.
When I look into eyes it is there intent can be seen, though it might take awhile to discern covert designs. I have met the eyes of evil looking at me, and ran! I saw it’s intent…to take my life, to destroy me. It was shimmery and took on what I thought would be a holy form…but holy it was not…the look behind the eyes I saw were full of hate and death.
In the eyes of Jesus I see life, love, compassion, forgiveness, hope, resurrection, rebirth, rescue, transformation. I have seen His eyes, staring out at me from the eyes of a dear friend, her body fighting a losing battle with cancer, her spirit vibrantly alive. Here was holiness not clothed in shimmery garments, like that masquerader trying to capture me. Here was holiness like I have never seen before, clothed in a battle-torn body misshaped by disease, blazing the fire of eternal love into my soul as I grieved for her. Vibrant life and LOVE poured out of those eyes, conquering the shadow of death she was walking through to move on into eternal life.
There was no mistake those were the eyes of Jesus. Human eyes reflect one’s soul, emotions, our earthly being. Only when spiritually awakened, reborn, and transformed by the Holy Spirit does one’s eyes reflect holy realities. Did I see fear, anger, remorse, hatred, cunning, deception in those eyes that looked at me that day? No, a purity and love beyond human capacity bore into my soul.
Look into the eyes of those around you, and consider, too, what your own eyes are saying. What do you see there? What is the intent, the real message being spoken? Are we paying attention? LORD, transform us, please, that we, too, will see with and reflect Your eyes of Love. “Open my eyes, LORD, that I may see…!”
Proverbs 23:26 NKJV “My son, give me your heart, And let your eyes observe my ways.”
Matthew 20:34 “So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.”
Psalms 119:18-19, 36-37 “Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law. 19 I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.”
36 “Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness. 37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.”
Walking With Hope
We two walked there arm in arm
Speaking in low voice
She allowed me to hold on
Surprised me with that choice
I saw her there in my dreams
Our daughter now estranged
My firstborn a treasured gift
Whom I long to see again
Long suffering my heart does yearn
For closeness we once shared
Before events of life washed in
Numerous mothers’ hearts like mine
Carry tender spots
For their children’s presence
Their love once shared, now not
Suddenly coos of mourning doves
When grief could take no more
Brought solace to my hurting heart
As they have years o’re and o’re
Oh, Love, bind ever seamlessly
Though our hearts can’t see
Wash over, nourish and uplift
Loved ones where e’er they be
Thank You God that hope resides
And beats within our breasts
Reconciliation’s time will come
Assured when You deem best
Romans 15:13 NKJV
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
NOTE: Over the years the coos of mourning doves have reminded me of God’s ever-present Holy Spirit. Why? I don’t know, other than something in my spirit resonates with their call. Does their mournful coo echo the mourning of creation waiting, too, for the final return of the Beloved One? It has been some time since I have heard them… until today as I sat in a well of grief, a timely gentle reminder that God indeed cares, that I am not alone, and can still have hope. His love and presence again lifted me. Even if we must wait into eternity, He holds us and our dear ones tenderly.
How has God provided evidence in your life of His presence? Something special that assures you of His personal love for you? He is there, reaching towards each of us, always.
A TERRIFIC RESOURCE: If you are curious about the Christian life check out the conversations in the book Waiting for the Train-Biblical Food for Growing Before Going by S. Tory Teller, foreward by Josh McDowell, at Amazon or at
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What joy to live in such a place
That holds freedom high
With gratitude for such a gift
Think long what brought it by
It is a gift, hard fought and won
A gift through sacrifice
A gift to treasure and protect
Bought with excessive price
Free to live and to thrive
To seek the truth to know
Realities of this life
Learning as one grows
Free to preserve, further peace
Bridge differences in love
Choices part of that great gift
Heritage costly won
Pray be thankful for this gift
Throw it not away
Share its glories of living hope
To others on their way
Come celebrate the gifts we have
Midst goodness and the strife
Praise God for His blessings long
Uplifting each one’s life
Seek the way, the truth, the life
From whence freedom springs
It is the truth that makes us free
No matter what life brings
John 14:6 NKJV
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
The Lost Cat
Dreaming vividly I awakened, my mind still engaged in technicolor drama, scenes playing on throughout the day. Was the dream somewhat prophetic… a harbinger of events of tomorrow’s meeting? Or just my mind’s imaginings?
Nearly fifty years ago I unexpectedly plucked a tiny kitten from an icy November night. She ultimately warmed the cold and lonely places of my heart, the rescued rescuing the rescuer. No doubt our meeting was not a coincidence… much love over near-twenty years came through the companionship of that tiny creature. She filled a place in me that needed her purr, those quiet contented rumblings from her heart. Her pint-sized body contained a big personality. Ever have a cat stalk by you while giving you the cold shoulder? Only begrudgingly did she finally grant my husband-to-be her stamp of approval. Enduring obvious disdain, he finally won her over by initiating a good old fashioned cat fight… with his gloved hand. Now it was my turn to wrestle… with grief. Our beloved cat was lost.
A high chain link fence surrounded the courtyard where I spoke with a Humane Society officer. He was hard pressed to locate our cat, yet hopeful his associate would arrive shortly with encouraging news, a booklet of photos of cats recently found. My heart pounded with anticipation as the the associate approached. Eagerly I grasp the booklet she handed to me through the fence, only to have my hopes rudely dashed: no photos, no hope, only a pamphlet entitled, “How to Let Go of a Lost Cat.” “No!” I cried while awakening…“she can’t be lost!”
I have other “cats” in my life, beloved ones who pad in and out, my last cat cat purring somewhere in the great hereafter. Will my present “cat,” who has been lost to me for months, take her kittens and flee? Only tomorrow morning’s meeting will tell. No matter what she presents, love never fails.
Thank You, LORD, for animals and humans You give us for a time and a season. Thank You for the incredible blessing of companionship, love, and relationship they bring. Help me to hold loosely those I love, and to rest in the fact that if they are lost from me, You still know where they are. I can, trusting in Your care, let go of my fear for them. It is You who ultimately opens and shuts the doors, who brings them, watches over them everywhere, who teaches me how to love them. Thank You, LORD, that though we might wrestle against You, scratch and fight furiously, You hold onto us. Your love never fails.
Psalm 139:7-12 NKJV “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me; 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.”
1 Corinthians 13:8a “Love never fails.”
My Cleaning Lady Quit
I have come to the realization that my life has been one long walk of becoming honest with myself. Waiting for my writing friend to pop in for a visit one morning, I perused my office, the living room, the flower beds. Honestly, I was feeling nervous. We had decided at the last minute to meet at my house, “a fine layer of dust” part of my morning disclaimer. Not terribly comfortable at being a hostess, especially with a less than pristine house, I happily had a little time to pray about my concerns. And dust the TV stand. My cleaning lady quit last week.
One of our sons recently commented that he thought house cleaning was too highly rated. A down to earth type of fellow whose profession is landscape maintenance, he is not the least bit annoyed by a little dust here or there. Considering the fact that we are actually made from dust, isn’t it interesting the amount of time we spend trying to get rid of it?
My friend mentioned that an analysis of dust reveals a great amount is sloughed-off, dead skin cells. “Too much information!” I exclaimed as we laughed together. Yet, think of it, our bodies are always, slowly returning from whence they came, the dust of the earth.
It truly was a blessing to just relax and enjoy my friend. Yes, my cleaning lady quit last week. She is me. She still comes around once in a while, and in emergencies. Meanwhile, she is thoroughly enjoying her retirement, family and friends. And honestly, imperfection allowed, it is a blessing!
To Be Known
Who am I? Does anybody care about me? Am I lovable? What’s my identity? Am I good enough?
All through life the need to be loved and known are cries of the human heart. From those first baby wails of “Help me! Feed me! Make me safe!” we need attention, deep down inside. It is a primal connection beyond ourselves that says we are at our core a needy sort, even in our bluster, independence, or whatever stage of maturity. Why else would there be refrains like “looking for love in all the wrong places”? We are searching to be loved, to be accepted, to be known.
Love. Such a confusing word. Used in many different contexts, the definition is broad, deep, variable, depending on who’s speaking. It’s emotional, yet has certain behaviors that tag along with it. Things like commitment, adoration, communication, sacrifice…things that take time… getting to know the beloved personally. In this temporal world we navigate primarily through the physical senses. What happens when we are still crying out as others reject, disappoint, use, abuse, hurt, and are just unable to fill our every need? None of us can be expected to always care perfectly for another, try though we might. We all fall short.
Who then knows me to the heights and depths that I need? Who will catch me when I fall, when all others fail me? When I am stuck in fear and hurt… who can I trust will never laugh at my pain, failures, embarrassments? Who knows me better than I know myself, who can guide me through the mucky muck to bring me into light again, into peace? Only my Creator, the One who gave me breath in the first place.
There is a place deep within where, when invited, the Holy Spirit resides, the promised One Jesus said He would send to dwell within each believer. The Helper, Comforter, Counselor, Teacher, Friend. Like any relationship, the more time spent together, the more known become the beloveds. And there, while no human can fully understand another, we can find true acceptance where we are already loved and fully known. It is a transformational experience. Inward growth happens as God’s presence in one’s life changes things. As one experiences the Living God, it becomes easier to trust Him in more and more areas of one’s life. He’s a Person reaching towards each of us for relationship, to set us free from all that ensnares our souls. He is the One Who loves us completely. He is the Perfect Father. All that mucky muck? He already knows.
John 16:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”
Nahum 1:7 NKJV “The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the daylight of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.”
Sanded long with upmost care
‘Til satiny and smooth
When a finish was applied
Wood grains rose up quite rude
Then with sanding once again
Pressure wielded precisely
The wood in places yielded fine
In other spots not nicely
Still the wood-smith worked his craft
Refusing to destroy it
More than just to feed his fire
He purposed to refine it
And while the wood endured the plane
The file and the sanding
Much harder did the wood-smith work
To make the wood outstanding
To think our LORD a carpenter
Works past our tears and whining
With steady careful Master’s hands
He loves us while refining
The Father’s heart holds us close
Knows all our wounds and bruises
In tenderness and strength He bears
Love for us He chooses
“Look at that gorgeous yellow bird!” The exclamation flew out of my mouth as I considered how to get a picture without scaring the flighty thing. Camera zooming from the couch did not capture its details, but I could tell the bird was exquisite. Petite, a brilliant yellow, it sat basking in the sun. Hurrying over to another window—stealthily, mind you—I snapped a few more pictures, then perused the images while carefully returning to the couch.
My mind rolled back to sixty-five years previous when fear came calling one dark night. No matter I was safely ensconced in bed, in a secure home, parents asleep in a nearby room. I was petrified. Just outside the bedroom window sounded the distinct footsteps of someone walking back and forth. Was it that scary looking person recently seen in our neighborhood? No way would I peek out, only to meet eyes staring in at me! It took awhile for my heart rate to settle down and to finally fall asleep, after the truth of the mysterious footsteps was finally revealed.
Illusions. Those influences that wildly chase our imagination, capture it, and lead us down a plethora of rabbit trails. Some paths present as delightful, like exquisite yellow birds. Others are frightful, like an imposing stranger danger. Only when the truth is known can one measure the value, and reality, of the experience. There must be a plumb line for reference, an anchor on which to base our understanding and choices.
Even now as I sit gazing out the window my mind is convinced what I am seeing is a splendid yellow bird. The shape, color, and size are right. Surely my eyes could not be mistaken. Yet on closer examination that glorious bird is in truth dead clematis leaves, caught in the arbor grillwork. Dead, neither alive nor real, but an illusionary lie. Just as was that stranger danger outside my window so long ago… merely air from the floor vent flapping a loose bedsheet against the mattress. Without a foundation of unchanging truth our thinking may fall into error, eventually bringing emptiness rather than true beauty, and imagined or unnecessary fears.
Truth is on the firing line, the world system convulsing to define, sub-define, redefine truth. Illusions and delusions have long been tactics to skew the truth, influence our ways of thinking and viewing our world. My hope is that we seek truth’s wisdom to examine all the supposedly marvelous things that fly into our lives, as well as to overcome our confusions and fears.
John 8:32 NKJV “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Forgive the times initially
I listened to your spoken words
Thinking that I understood
Yet your heart I had not heard
Intention was not to dismiss
Heavy burdens of your soul
That you could not voice yourself
Perhaps you did not fully know
Communication’s awful miss
Not hearing clearly deepest cries
Meaning lost, attention’s guess
Loneliness the lullaby
Searching life long to be heard
He who knows souls fully well
Beyond one’s words of utterance
Hears the truth hearts long to tell
Oh, LORD, in fleeting days to come
Grant us gifts of hearing well
Mend our misperception’s gaps
Heal misunderstanding’s quell
Psalms 10:17 NKJV
“Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear,”
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”