Three year hiatus

How do three years race by so quickly?

All I know is that three years have left streaks of gray in my hair, a few more lines on my face, and have not removed the wanderlust from my heart. Life has given memories to fill boatloads. Many good. Many sad.

Perhaps we are the only creatures on the planet to experience surprise at the passage of time.

"My, how you've grown!" we say to children, shocked that they're taller than we are.
"You retired already?" we question our friends, envious of their new leisure time.
"There's no way you have kids already!" we screech to high school friends, as we grapple with no family to speak of at reunions.

Time passes. And quickly.

Perhaps this is why God says to 'Be still and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10).
In the steady march of time moving onward, we risk missing out on details and days. When we take time to reflect and remember, it seems to help ease the shock of the passage of time. Reflection is a reliving of events and allows us to hold on to the massive and minute.

So, today, in a panicky mood, I sit and reflect, and wait for the stillness to remind me that in the tic tic tic of time God remains.

Mom used to make a pot of globby oatmeal for breakfast. Especially during the cool months. 

It sat in the pot with a big spoon in it and Mom would leave toppings in heaping bowls on the counter.

As a kid the only way to ingest the oatmeal, was to smother it in brown sugar, coconut, pecans and, if the store provided, some cut fruit. 

Each spoonful was wrenched out the bowl and carefully a bit of sugar was added, a nut, until the perfect bite was arranged. 

Then the licking of the palette commenced. Like a dog with peanut butter, we would chew and lick and attempt the unhinged jaw to eat. 

Oatmeal was never a favorite. 

But time has changed me some I guess. 

As fall arrives, the trees pull on their red and gold coats, the street is slick with autumnal mist and the last of the tomatoes hang forlornly on the vine, I crave warm food for breakfast. 

Today, I ate oatmeal for breakfast.

All Giddy

2014. Sochi. Olympics. 

I love the Olympics. 
Athletes that we never hear of or see at any other time pop out of the gyms and pools and off of the mountains where they have been lurking for four years and astound us with their feats. 

And I sit and eat licorice and ice cream and admire their prowess. 

And I am thankful that my mistakes are not seen on such a global scale. 

Sure, my mistakes are seen, but not on the 10 o'clock news. I can make amends and apologize and even hide when I mess up. 

Not so for these athletes. 

I am glad that there is one Person I need never hide from. 

God knows all my mess and loves me. In fact, there is nothing I have done, or will do that will change His love for me. 

No news coverage about me will shock Him.
No fall. 
No collapse.
No emotional outburst. 
No failure. 
Nothing can change how God feels about me. 

Romans 8:38 & 39 says it all for me. And it makes me as giddy as a Nordic skier at the starting line.

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love." (NLT)

(While I am American, I root for NZ often. Proud of my 'second' home team!)

J.R.R. had it right...

One of my favorite book series made into movies is the Lord of the Rings. 

J.R.R. was a genius. 

I learned semaphore thanks to him. 

I love that the story is about the struggle we all face to fight for the good and right in our lives. Even in a dark, dark world we can find light and cling to it and fight for it. 

One of my favorite parts of the series is Gandalf fighting the Balrog. He knows what evil lurks in the mines. And when it is awoken, he chooses to defend his friends, at the risk of his life. He stands up to a fiery demon with a staff and sword. 

So what? 

Well, recently I feel like I got breathed on by a fire breathing person. And I had the choice to fight fair. I could stand my ground and fight the wrong without having one of my friends harmed.

At what cost?

I didn't risk my life. Though the pain of betrayal sits hard with me, it was others that I wanted to protect. 

So instead of choosing to share what was said, I am choosing to not allow that fiery craziness pass me. 

If only all of us would stop to think before we spread such harshness. 

I have a pretty scar on my right knee. 9 stitches. I remember thanking God for Novocaine shots that night.

While chasing a boy who deserved a whooping, my foot got in the path of swiftly moving fellow chaser and SMASH! to the pavement we went. 

I am proud of that scar. And of the story that lent that scar to me. 

But there is a far greater story that moves my heart to great joy. 

It is the story of a man who lived long ago and loved me more than I can imagine. He loved me so much that He chose to suffer wounds that were deep and will leave eternal scars. 

As I prep for an Easter service at my church, the hunt for meaningful material led me to this quote

"Our scars tell part of the story of who we are, what has mattered to us, what has happened to us, the risks we’ve taken, the gifts we’ve given.  And as we are reminded in the story before us in John’s Gospel, this was surely also so with Jesus, too. Which is why Thomas insisted he needed to see, no more than that, feel the scars in his hands and put his own hand in Jesus’ side to be sure that it was him.  One would think he would have recognized him with from the features of his face or the sound of his voice, but no, for Thomas, Jesus had become something more since that long walk to the cross a week before.  Jesus’ very identity was now defined by the sacrifice he had made in our behalf.  A sacrifice made most visible in those wounds that by then could have only begun to heal." -Janet H. Hunt, Scars and Stories, Doubt and Faith

I hope that the sacrifice that Jesus offered will always ring true to my heart. And I am eager for the one-day-coming-soon when I can hold those precious scared hands and say "Thank You". 

May the scars of your life make you aware of what you love and how you love. 

Old Poem

"My soul is escaping in the liquid
running down my face.

I cannot slow down or break down.

So my soul is escaping to be free from the darkness within."

Written October 15, 2007

Found this old scribbling from dark days, lonely days. Enough time in this world tells me that I am not alone in having those feelings. And time also tells me that the blackness within does not, and will not, last forever.

You Can't Make Me

The common rant of children who are being forced to eat broccoli (or some offensive vegetable), clean their room or apologize to their tyrannical siblings is often heard in many a home. "You can't make me!" The bulging eyes of an enraged parent and the snap of a belt usually has the tot singing a different tune rather quickly. Despite the lovely echo one may hear of Bill Cosby saying "I brought you into the this world, and I can take you out of it", the reality of being made to do something we don't want to do can seem crushing. 

This week, as I was trying to iron out a situation, I got a phone call with nothing but stickers and burrs on the other end. All hostility and venom. Phew. Though the thought of hanging up had me pulling the phone away from my head and looking longingly at the END key... I held on for more snapping. 

As I hung up (politely, thank you) and replayed the conversationin my head, I started to get really mad. Like call back and yell mad. 

And then, something stopped me. I started chanting over and over in my head "You can't make me"

You can't make me lose my temper. 
You can't make me spitting angry. 
You can't make me say bad words. 
You can't make me.
You can't make me lose my joy.
You can't make me have a bad day.
You can't make me give up this sunshine in my soul.
You can't make me!

Too many times I have allowed someone to 'make me' and stupidly blamed them for the fallout. Reality? They can't make me. In a life where I am holding on to Jesus and asking Him for guidance and direction, taking time to ask Him to fill my day with things that will draw me closer to Him, nobody can 'make me'. 

Jesus says He came to give us life and life abundantly. Not life squished and mushed and holed up in some back corner of the universe. Abundant life! The thieves come to steal and destroy (check out John 10:10) but not God. He comes to give us life - a life full and overflowing (Psalm 23:5).

Don't let the thieves steal your joy, your abundant peace, the grace that God offers you. Hold on to the promise and live your life effervescing. And let the bullies know - " You can't make me!"