April 30, 2012

Dandy's Girls

I picked her up from the nursery and her bare feet dangled from her perch on the nursery worker’s arm.

She smiled and dimples dipped into pale pink cheeks.

A sherbet green cardigan covered her bare arms. She calls out my name, “Dandy.”

I have known her for almost a year and a half, but I feel like she is someone I have been waiting on for a long time---someone I have been preparing for. I feel like I have always known her, like she is a part of me---and she is.

Last night I log into facebook, and I read what was on my daughter’s mind:

“Naomi melts my heart every few seconds...I love working when she's occupied by things at my feet and not wanting to help design. But then she just looks up and laughs or kisses my legs or tickles my toes! What a wonderful little friend she is!”

I hardly ever comment on my children’s pages. I know that could get me in trouble and unfriended!! Let just say I don’t comment much at all. But with her post, I couldn’t resist as my heart and my mind went back to the days when Naomi’s mother sat at my feet and smiled at me.

“I wasn't designing but I don't know what I would have done without my "little friend" while her Daddy was in medical school. I glad my "joy" is enjoying her "joy."

Someone asked me how I liked being a grandmother. I told them I liked it but I was surprised by one of the particular blessings that came with the gig. That blessing was getting to see my daughter be a mother.

She is a great mother---much better than I was at her age. I see her with her child, her belly now swelling with the next little girl due to arrive at the end of the summer, and I am overwhelmed that God is allowing me to watch her raise up the next generation.

I wasn’t ready to live in the middle of life. I am still surprised when I look in the mirror and even more so, when I see myself in a photograph. I’ve kept the crown of glory on my head beautifully colored and highlighted. But still the tell tale signs are there and I won’t disguise them. I don’t think I could keep up.

My grandmother always told me that no matter how old she got she felt eighteen in her heart. If I could sit with her now, I would tell her that for me it feels like twenty-three.

One generation commends your works to another;
 they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness 
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Ps. 145:4-7 
If you read my blog, you haven’t read it much lately! I have been living! And I am asking for prayer today because the men in my house are sick with fevers and I have a lot on my plate. Maybe I can write about that plate later and tell you what is on it.

Continuing the Joy Dare with Ann:

-       chef-made vanilla ice cream luscious and barely cold, a taste of heaven
-       loving to tell the story of His wondrous love for me
-       text-laughing with friends
-       the roses this year—fabulous
-       hope in a boy’s voice
-       Daddy in the hayfield, a life come full circle
-       Naomi playing with her Momma’s and uncle’s toys
-       Candles lit, flickering at the front of the church

April 16, 2012

Lessons in LIght Living

My daughter pushed the baby in the shopping cart around the bedding plants. She turns to me and says,“Isn’t it odd that some plants thrive in the shade while others need the sun.”

She is a homeowner for the first time. I think it is odd that she hasn’t noticed that this before now. But when I think about it, she is just starting building her life in the light, and the shade of her garden.

It's necessary to know that a hosta needs shade and geraniums need sun. But what holds true for bedding plants is not true when it comes to people. We were made to live in the light.

It is in the light that sin is exposed and burned away (our own and the sins committed against us.) There under the scrutiny of the light our true beauty is revealed. We grow in the light because it is there we can see the truth.

The darkness requires feeling our way, finding our way in fear rather than faith.

Our truth may be several layers deep. We hide it under clothes and attitude. To think about stepping out and undressing in public horrifies. We are sure we will be burned. The truth is that might happen----and it might happen for a reason. 

It’s the risk we take being known, disrobing, letting others who we know we are, and exposing self to the sting of another’s heat----even when it is God’s Light. We fear the penetrating Light will find us out, throw us out with the tares. 

(The enemy hisses. We live next door to the Liar even though we think we are alone in the darkness.)

On Friday night, we laughed with friends about how we didn’t know about sunscreen when we were kids. Our tongues clipped off memories of summer fun in the sun that ended with shoulder’s blistered. A day or two later, the epidermis peeled in big thin wafers of skin leaving us with a reticulated look of a red giraffe.

Years later, we carry the damage on our outside organs, (glaring at us now in the mirror, lines and darkening spots). But we wouldn’t give up those days in the sun.

As for me, though many days were sunny, others weren’t. It didn’t take much to learn to let the skin grow thick, the independent spirit grow attitude. And finally, when the time was right, wear a cute outfit---to look the part of the girl grown up into women wearing and living the American Dream.

I put on quite a pretense for light living. All the things I carefully selected to be my public face were really to keep me firmly planted in the place I thought I should stay----in the darkness. I thought I could grow in the shade. But I was withering.

Shade is great for caladiums and ferns but I was made to live in the light. 

The Master Gardener dug me up. I held tight at my roots, resisted. But he doesn’t turn back from tending to hearts that need to live in truth, to be set free from the darkness. He works his garden relentlessly. And what beauty it grows.

I have been living in the light for over a decade in my grown up years. I rub SPF 50 on thinning skin, fertilize eating the Word, draw life from an ever-flowing Fountain. I grow where I am planted. I yield to pruning when those times come. My tendrils reaching up and out. My sufficiency is supplied by the deep Root that sustains me. 

Dark clouds shadow me at times. I shiver thinking back on all it took to rip me out of the dark place where I was dying. But I no longer fear going back. Even if I did, He would come get me, dig me up and start over.

It is and Ann is right. He shines and breakthroughs always come. From below we see breaks in the clouds, blue sky, and remember the hope a New Day rising.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7 ESV)
Taking the Joy Dare with Ann:

- grandchild saying my grandmother name: Dandy
- peace with the lost of journal from 1993
- hammock out of the closet into the yard
-new friends
-old friends
-jamming with Annie, making strawberry jam
-Clara Sue home from the NICU
-using the first leaves plucked from the basil plant
-strength to choose faith over fear and trust over worry

April 14, 2012

Purple Shouts

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;

sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!

So great is your power that your enemies

come cringing to you.

All the earth worships you

and sings praises to you;

they sing praises to your name.” 


(Psalm 66:1-4 ESV)

April 13, 2012

Good-Bye to the Evening News

I said good-bye to the evening news. I didn’t tell anybody that turning off the news was my New Year’s resolution. I wasn’t sure I could be resolute with not seeing what was going on all over the world.

I had some things going for me like a busy January preparing for my Bible Study class and getting my lesson plans and my bags packed for a mission trip to the Ukraine.

I made it through January.

February came and I spent seventeen days in travel or ministry away from it all. Then came the jet lag and the nights wandering the house when all was quiet, hushed, and dark.

I made it through February.

It wasn’t long until March heralded an early spring.

One evening the doors were pulled back and the screens pulled together to let in the fresh night air. I laid back on the red down couch, book in hand, when my man turns on the news.

For fifteen minutes I listened and I realized again why I needed to leave the news for others to gorge on. It makes me sick. It makes me worry. It takes my mind off the Good News----the reality, that God is in control. I really don’t need to know the selected things that happen in the world on any given day.

I hear things that I need to hear but they come up in conversations with people who didn’t make my resolution---or the headlines are announced on facebook.

This wasn’t a super spiritual decision I made. I do know it has kept me from falling asleep just after the “talking heads” tell me the world is falling apart.

I can lie down and know that in Christ all things hold together. Wouldn’t that be a good way to end the evening news?

“Good evening and know this: Christ holds all things together.”

Writing on Lisa Jo's prompt: good-bye

April 9, 2012

Grace Quenched

Cubes of ice shattered as I pulled back the frosty lever of the aluminum ice tray. In a rumble, the ice tumbled over into a plastic bin. Then I cracked the next. The routine was: open all the trays, refill with water, and replace them in the freezer so they would be ready for the next meal. Leaving them out on the counter was a sin.

Where I grew up in the South, we drank tea one way-----sweet and cold. It didn’t matter the season.

On Sunday after church, our family always gathered at my Grandma’s house for dinner. Dinner was the noon meal on Sunday. It amazes me that she prepared such an abundant meal for so many all by herself.

When we were old enough, the granddaughters would fill the glasses from the ice bin and carry big thick goblet-like glasses to the table filled to the brim with iced tea.

I remember well being sent back to the kitchen by Grandpa to get more ice. I looked at his glass and knew we had filled it full with cubes before we poured. He always asked for more. So off I went and came again to fill his glass, the added cubes floating over the rim. When he drew the tea up to his mouth, I know the ice touched the tip of his nose. He wanted to feel the cold. And not just as it flowed down to quench his thirst, he wanted to feel the cold touch of ice, breathe in the chill.

I hear people using the word grace a lot. It drops in the glass like cubes of ice from their mouths, but I don’t see the passion behind the word. They don’t fill enough to feel it. It floats around in the glass. They drink it in to quench a need but never feel its power. Offer others a sip. Often it is excused. Thanks, but no thanks.

To be alive is to be touched by Grace.

Grace so real that it sends shivers down the spine. Grace so known and appreciated, accepted that it floats to the top, satisfies like nothing else.

The man in the gray Dickies, who lived through being orphaned, illiteracy, and the Great Depression was meeting needs in his life through that ice---quenching an unmet thirst that was his long before I became a part of his story.

Grandpa did not take that ice for granted.

Peter filled with grace to its fullest. Don't you know he hated the sound of a rooster's crow? Or maybe, he loved it because it reminded him of how much grace He was granted. Grace to the fullest measure.

Take this in today, a big cool drink of Peter’s great encouragement:

….May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.   (1 Peter 1:2-9 NASB)

Today, I am feeling the weight of Peter’s words. Covered with goose-bumps, I shiver as I pick up a cup dripping condensation, grace filled, and thirst quenching.

So thankful that the wind of the Spirit has passed my way.


Taking the Joy Dare with Ann:

- memories of Easter past with purses, hats and white gloves
- pound cake with local stawberries
- timid baby steps that cause the grandparents to applaud
- flower pots planted
- patches of filtered sun under the pines
- azaleas showing off pink and coral
- photos of our new grandchild, a girl being woven, beautiful in her mother’s womb

April 6, 2012

It is Enough

The called ones were asked to pray, yet lids collapsed over eyes, and instead of mouths speaking prayer, their minds drifted into dreams. Two times Jesus asked and they slept.

"And He came the third time, and said to them, 'Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.'"

He had taught them for three years, and this night, they had followed him to the garden. This God-Man who ran counter to the world would someday sit on a throne. Wasn’t this a Passover excursion to pray in the night with the Teacher? Tomorrow would there not be more multitudes to feed by the sea?

But Jesus' words splintered the night, “It is enough---” enough miracles, enough parables, enough teaching these Learners what they only would understand when they witnessed "things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him."

They had heard him say it with their ears, but reality had not entered their hearts as to what God had prepared for His Son. Jesus would die. He would give His life away.

The eternal clock's hand moved to the time at hand---the appointed time. The betrayer kissed, the sleepers scattered. 

Just hours before, worshipers called “Come now!” They fanned shouts of adoration with their fronds, giving Him a king's welcome.

Now withered leaves line the path, out to the hill He stumbled. The Lamb of God, burdened with a splintered cross, fell under its weight. The time had come for the thorn-crowned King to take His appointed place, to die the appointed death. "It is finished," the final words from lips that had laid aside their glory.

And it was enough. 

Enough pure blood for stains of sin,
Enough that we might live again.
Enough took the Father's wrath,
Enough our healing stripped from His back.
Enough to overcome our pain, our sinful nature and our shame.
Enough to cast aside lawlessness,
Enough for unbelief, unrighteousness.
Enough to rip the veil in to
To be The Way for the few
Who call His Name, recite their guilt 
Call out for Love to come and fill.

( Scripture from NASB---Mark 14:41; I Corin. 2:9; John 19:30)

(Repost from October 6, 2011)

April 5, 2012

"After the Lord's Supper"

Wind me tightly                 
a spool
upon the Savior's
Chain me
next to His
Right my vision
that I may bow
to the One
lifted up.
"Remember me"
unleavened body
upon my tongue.
Red the fruit
tinged upon
my lips.
I unravel 
at the wonder
the Last
the Servant
the Sacrifice.         
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”
 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
(Matthew 26:26-30 ESV)

We see through the glass darkly....

"After the Lord's Supper" (2005) came from the creative mind of artist Devorah Sperber. The image reinterprets the famous painting of Leonardo Da Vinci in what seems to be a pixelated mosaic, but it is actually composed of 20,736 spools of thread hung on ball chain. The thread colors hang with intent so that the viewer will recognize the familiar painting in a new and fascinating way.

How fitting this piece seems for this subject taken from the accounts of the Gospels. At this meal, Jesus turned the kingdom of God "upside down."

When viewing the spools through the glass sphere, the image rights itself---- the image of Christ coming to the front and center.

(This artwork is on display at the Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas in the temporary exhibition, "Wonder World.")

April 3, 2012

The Broken are Born Again

Nineteen and she was birthing twins. That is my mother’s story. All of five foot tall, my mom found herself either standing or laying down the days before the labor started. It wasn’t because of doctor’s orders. There was just no in-between, no option of sitting. She was one big ball of babies.

We came two weeks late. A tangle of baby arms and legs all curled around inside her womb finally entered the world while our mother escaped the trauma in the “twilight.” Together, we were just shy of thirteen pounds. Ten fingers. Ten toes.

I came first by eight minutes and then they birthed my sister breech.

Taking care of a baby is never easy. (I only appreciated the challenge my mother and father faced after I had my first child.)

My sister cried more than me. A lot more.  In fact, Daddy said that every time anyone picked her up instead of settling with his or her care, she cried even more intensely.

One of the many grandmothers hovering around said, “There is something wrong with that baby.”

Our grandmothers knew about babies. For the most part, they had brought their babies into the world at home. They had relied on the wisdom of their mothers and grandmothers----- the first pediatricians. Now they stepped up to give the first opinion concerning their new little one who seemed to be crying non-stop.

Daddy took my sister back to the city to see Dr. Teeter for the second opinion. He looked her over and found that her arm was broken----a result of the breech birth. The break was faintly noticeable on her skinny baby arm, but the x-ray showed it was already healing.

Me on the left and Lea on the right.

The doctor gave Daddy two choices: break and set it or leave it alone, let it continue to heal. Soft baby bones would straighten with time and no one would ever be able to tell that it was broken.

My twenty-one year old daddy walked out of there. No way would he allow that arm to be broken again. He would not subject my sister to that kind of pain.

Our Father, who knit us in the hidden place, in the darkness of the womb, understands how we enter the world broken with the legacy of sin imprinted on our lives.

Jesus took our sin upon Himself, took those broken from birth and healed them. 

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

In Holy Mystery, the broken are born again. 

April 1, 2012

The Journey to the Cross began on the Back of a Donkey

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  They brought the donkey, the colt and placed their cloaks on him for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed all shouted, 
   “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
   “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”       
(Matthew 21:6-9)
Photo: Christos Loufopoulos 

The word "hosanna" literally meant "save now." The people were wanting Jesus to save them NOW. They laid their cloaks on the road and waved the branches as Jesus rode past on a donkey.

Jesus was on a donkey.

The people were shouting for Jesus to save them as a king! But right in front of their eyes he was on a donkey, the humble little burden-bearer. They shouted "Hosanna!" and no one noticed that the King they wanted to save them was on a donkey!
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5-8) 
Jesus humbled himself to ride on the donkey. It wasn't time for him to ride on the white horse. Not yet.  Before that day comes, he would become like the animal he rode upon--- a burden-bearer.  He would bear the sins of the world. The people didn't see the donkey that day. Their eyes fell upon Jesus and all the hope that His life could bring them.  They didn't understand the whole plan--- how the coming week would unfold. Jesus would be beaten, humiliated, mocked and crucified.

This day I lift my hands, wave them like branches. I am like those who lined the road to Jerusalem the day Jesus made his way to the cross on the back of a donkey.