heart leaves

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain……..The Apostle Paul, Philippians 1:21

Almost from the time we are born, our hearts and souls are acutely aware of a sense of loss and the fear that stems from it. Life, at its most painful becomes synonymous with loss. Loss of a job we loved, loss of a loved one, death of a marriage, physical loss, loss of a home. Sometimes one loss turns into another. Such as when a deep loss turns into a bad habit. Then we have to kick the bad habit and we have that loss to deal with too.

But here is the big hope rests within and through all this. Here is where the story gets happy. That at the other end of this spectrum of loss, there is gain, without which we wouldn’t know loss at all. And that little word, gain, is what God is, and has always been concerned with.

That when we were determined to ruin ourselves and each other, God said, “No, I won’t let the story end this way.” He didn’t just write a happy ending. He came in physical form to become our happy ending. He came to fill that, as C.S. Lewis so rightly said, “God sized vacuum” in our hearts.

On a final note, I wanted to address those who seem to think the California fires are the result of God’s judgment due to the fact that sin is so rampant in this state. My God doesn’t go around setting fires and starting earthquakes and floods. That’s Satan’s job (if you believe in him and I do because Jesus certainly did).

To some, California may be an example of what they feel is wrong with the world, but no state or geography has cornered the market on evil; that territory starts within the heart of us all and there is only one cure:

Jesus himself. He’s our only prescription with a permanent cure for heart trouble:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have not told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” John 14:1,2

Please join me in praying for all those who have lost homes, businesses, and lives in this beautiful state I call home now.

A Million Avenues

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“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen for His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9 

It’s a miracle really that any of us seeks or knows God. Navigating this faith journey is a great mystery. What makes some of us look up, look in, look outside of ourselves to something or someone bigger than we are? God placed within each of us that need and desire. What do we fill the vacuum which C.S. Lewis so aptly describes as “God-sized?”

He calls us, each of us, if we listen. He uses a million avenues to do it. To me the “no-brainer” is nature, but that doesn’t work for some. They can explain that one away, but I can’t. To watch the redwoods glow red as they filled up with sunlight this morning was Holy and I can’t deny it. I don’t want to either.

The nation God is talking about is not any country here on this earth. It has no boundary or border or President. Its origin and beginnings were already established in the mists of Creation as God’s Spirit moved along the waters. He already had me on His easel. There was a place for me there. That astounds me.

This year has brought big changes in my life. I am continuing to deal with anxiety and clouds of depression that come. There is a weight on my soul such as I have never felt before. I am no longer fighting it, but am trying to rest in it. I don’t know why but I somehow feel it is a necessary season and it will pass.

I am very blessed to have a wonderful confidant (Elaine, yes you) and support here on earth and I know God hasn’t left me. I stand on His word and the Holy Spirit who resides in my heart. I am sealed for the day of redemption. (Signed sealed and delivered, but still a work in progress.)

I rest between the brilliant flashes of beauty He gives when He knows I need them most. They leak into my soul and reassure me that all is well and all will be well. They are like the stones you use to cross a body of water, you don’t look at the swirling water but give your concentration to the individual stone.

Life continues to be good.

As I listened to David Nevue this morning in the quiet hour of 6:00 I saw a spot of sun rest right on the doorknob of my Aunt’s house and it reminded me of the verse where Jesus says He is standing at the door of our heart knocking to come in. If my writing causes even one person to look toward Jesus, then I know I will have used my gift right.

Look up friends. God never disappoints.

A highway in the desert

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“The spiritual function of fierce terrain…is to bring us to the end of ourselves, to the abandonment of language and the relinquishment of ego. A vast expanse of jagged stone, desert sand, and towering thunderheads has a way of challenging all the mental constructs in which we are tempted to take comfort and pride, thinking we have captured the divine. The things that ignore us save us in the end.”~ Belden Lane in THE SOLACE OF FIERCE LANDSCAPES (buy it on Amazon,  it’s worth it)

A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3

“Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word “glory” a meaning for me. I still do not know where else I could have found one.” C.S. Lewis

A person can have a profound encounter with God anywhere, because God is everywhere; but my time in the desert taught me something I don’t think I could have learned any other way. There is a quiet majesty and power there that speaks in the silence. There is a holiness in the sudden rain that comes after the merciless scorching heat of the summer. That rain feels like grace.

The extremity of its character alone simutaneously punishes and rewards like the pillar of smoke and fire God showed up in while guiding the Israelites through the desert. It says, like God, “Keep your eyes on me and you will get through this and reach the promised land. Take your eyes off the trail to your own destruction.”

The desert is just that drastic and following the rules leads to life or death too. In order to live in the desert, you have to obey some very simple rules:

Never find yourself without water.

Know which snakes and insects are poisonous and which ones are harmless.

If you get stuck in the middle of a dust storm while driving turn your headlights off.

The vastness and stark beauty of it makes one feel very small and vulnerable in a way similar to being in the ocean where you can’t see land. Or caught in a thunderstorm in the Sierras.  You wonder how any species could survive, plant or animal, yet somehow they do. The quail lead their microscopic chicks straight out of the nest and along the rocky ground. Sometimes they start with ten and end up with three.

And in the summer it feels like a place of death. You run from one building to the next, you look for the one shady spot someone just pulled out of. And summer seems to last forever. And then one morning in November you are rewarded with coolness and it’s like being born again.

I believe there is a reason for the wandering in the desert and not anywhere else. The harsh landscape makes it easier to know you depend solely on Him, and that goes for physical wandering and also the other kind; when you’re wandering in the “dry spells and deserts of life.”

But there is always hope in every kind of desert you may find yourself in. That in time, He will bring you to the other side. The cactus wil bloom again, life will appear where there was none. You will feel the cool breeze once again and know that you have made it through.

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Mom’s Day

 

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With my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable disappeared from my life. There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of joy; but no more of the old security. C.S. Lewis

I searched for this quote because it really affected me when I read it in one the Mitford series books. I realize that for many, this quote would not be so moving or strike such a chord as it did for me. For many people, today is a hard day fraught with mixed emotions and guilt. For that reason I hate the commercial aspect of it.

I wandered through the card aisle yesterday and saw many perplexed expressions and furrowed brows. I remember how my Mom always hated this day. She could never find the right card. My Grandmother wasn’t what you would call affectionate to her kids, although she provided a good home and delicious smells from the kitchen always. In that way, she did show love.

We all do the best we can, I guess. My wise friend never liked this day either. Her Mom was hardly ever affectionate either in word or deed to her daughter, and yet…..when her Mom was pregnant with her and was found with cancer, she refused an abortion. She brought my very best friend into the world 2 months early and I can’t imagine this world or my world without her. For that I will always be grateful to Joyce Dupree who had her first child at 16, a kid raising a kid.

Of both her parents, my friend says, “They did the best they could at the time.” If there ever was a grace-filled statement I don’t know what is. She cared for her Mom all through Alzheimer’s which I have written about here in the past.

And to my Mom, who has always been my friend as well as a great Mom, thank you for making Mother’s Day easy for me growing up. It was always a pleasure to find a card for you.

Mom’s do the best they can, and like this dove, they sit among thorns to keep us safe from the harsh realities of the world outside. And they prepare us the best way they know how. They mark us and imprint us in many ways. We carry some of them with us always, long after they are gone.

I always appreciated my old employer’s approach to Mother’s Day. The guys came around with a rose and a gift to every single woman, asking no questions. Because in the final analysis, all of us women are caretakers in some form or fashion. So Happy Mother’s and Non-Mothers day to all. Blessings on your day.

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The Thrill of Hope

 

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The rain is watering the earth and I can almost feel it breathing a sigh of relief. You have just left and it’s the cat and me for a few days. There is a vacuum in the space where you used to be. Sometimes it’s those small things you take for granted that are the most keenly felt when someone you care about is no longer there.

Things, life, the world goes on even in the wake of losses great and small. All over the world and in many different situations people are waving goodbye; all kinds of faces tinged with emotions reflected in retreating tail-lights. Psychiatrists, counselors and ministers devote much of their time helping people deal with it. That monstrous thing we call loss.

It is raining harder now and the air grows colder inside my space. I see your handiwork wherever I look, traces of you and how you always make things work better. I open the pantry and see the motion light you put there, and everything is just so.

You are going back to a happy place and to see friends. Old friends, old footprints retraced. Everything will be clean and bright the way I remember and you will have sun and that makes my heart glad for you.

It was quite a life we had there and a good one. It was like a foreign land at first, that desert. But it turned into a place that folded itself around us, comforted us in the loss of both your parents and all we went through with Alzheimer’s and Dementia and the grief that went with it.

My words seemed to flow more freely there in the little shop, my first prayer closet. A blog was born there to the backdrop of doves cooing, roosting on the rooftops next door.

Almost from the time we are born, our hearts and souls are acutely aware of a sense of loss and the fear that stems from it. Life at its most painful becomes synonymous with loss. Loss of a job we loved, loss of a loved one, death of a marriage, physical loss, loss of a home. Sometimes one loss turns into another. Such as when a deep loss turns into a bad habit. Then we have to kick the bad habit and we have that loss to deal with too.

But here is the big hope rests within and through all this. Here is where the story gets happy. That at the other end of this spectrum of loss, there is gain, without which we wouldn’t know loss at all. And that little word, gain, is what God is, and has always been concerned with.

For at the cross, His loss became our gain.

When we were determined to ruin ourselves and each other, God said, “No, I won’t let the story end this way.” He didn’t just write a happy ending. He came in physical form to become our happy ending. He came to fill that, as C.S. Lewis so rightly said, “God sized vacuum” in our hearts.

Thank you God. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Christmas.

The Miracle of the Promise

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. C. S. Lewis

I was thinking this morning…..how it’s all a miracle. No matter what we have to go through, we are here. Someone had to think of us to bring us into existence. And maybe even if they didn’t God did. It is a miracle that I believe, that any of us believes. And not only believe, because even the demons believe, but put that belief into something that started with a decision.

If someone had never taken me to church or told me about God, I have never have known that there was even a decision to be made.

Or that there was a God……and that He wanted a relationship with me.

If someone in your life thought it was important that you go to church, you need to thank God for them today. That they took you.

Maybe it was a stumbling blinding path they were tripping on themselves, or maybe it was a rock solid firm foundation. Whatever it was, they got you ready and somewhere in their hearts they thought it was right…….when many others were doing other things you were swinging your feet on a bench where you heard “the old old story, about how Christ left His home in glory.”

and it planted a seed you could never quite forget.

I am thanking God today that no matter what I go through in this life, God cracked my heart open with the light of His love……and in all these years He has never stopped. Because I heard and answered the knock of a God who wanted to know me and live with me forever. And you.

“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:39

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A morning for tea……

You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. C.S. Lewis
I knew that if I “google searched” C.S. Lewis quotes that something having to do with tea would pop up…..lo and behold it did! This photo was taken by Elaine when she surprised me the other day by taking me to Ms. Thomas Tea House. It’s me doing my best to be ladylike without spilling tea all over. I only spilled a little.
It really was a sweet thing for her to do. She knows I like to get in touch with my English heritage once in a while….. My Dad’s side hails from Lincolnshire, near the Sherwood Forest in Nottingham. I love the little tea cups, the lace on the table, the little fancy sandwiches. However, I can be dignified and “pinkies up” only so long. I have a track record for dropping things and clanging the lid too loud, and laughing when I am not supposed to.
I have a feeling if I ever met the Royal Highness herself, something would set me off……it would probably be me tripping over the red carpet. I can see it now, me coming down with a hopeless case of the giggles in the assembly line, right before I was supposed to curtsy and shake her white gloved hand.
If you make the photo bigger you will notice that though my pinkie is up, it is a bit bent……that just about sums it up for me. A bit of serious and a bit of silly…..well, maybe a lot silly.
I have vague memories of singing a solo in first or second grade with Carlyn Willie. Now, she was a lot serious and never silly. I got a terrible case of the giggles. I think she thought she was trying out for the opera. It was bad, and to top it off, we were singing Silent Night. My Mom was there, and she wasn’t too happy.
Just goes to show, you shouldn’t ask a kid to do such solemn things.
If sidelong looks and elbow jabs could have killed, I never would have made it out alive that day…..
To celebrate……We had a bit of rain in the desert last night and when I walked out to get in the car it was a glorious 75 degrees! That was enough to put me in a good mood for the rest of the day….
God is good, cooler temperatures are coming….I have faith!