Tell me…..

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Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angelsshouted for joy? God speaks, Job 38:4-7

Sometimes in the quiet, I wonder how it would be to stand on the brink of the world, where it’s so cold, to cold even for a tree. To experience that terrible wonder. To observe the creatures that live there, to see how they do it. I think I would be even more in awe of God than I am now.

To see the Northern lights, now that would be some miracle. I think I am almost obsessed with seeing them. To see how God paints the sky that way would leave me dumbstruck with silence like the moon still leaves me sometimes when I see it rise over the Superstitions. I will never lose my capacity to love nature and the God who spoke it all into existence.

And when I went on the Alaskan cruise, the thing that made an indelible mark was not the buffet, though it was incredible. It was not the beauty of the ship, though it was breathtaking. And it wasn’t the luxury of the room or the entertainment on board.

It was going out on the veranda and seeing nothing but water as far as I could see……God was so big there.

It was the light at midnight and the glow on the water……the mysterious silence that took my breath away.

It was an unspoiled land, and eagles nests as big as Volkswagens.

Those are the things I will never forget. This Advent, as always. I will pretend I have a bit of the mystery of Mary. I will treasure all these things up in my heart like she did. Pregnant with God’s Spirit, sealed for the day of redemption, Oh God, may that one thought change everything I do.

Never let it get old. Embrace the miracle you are, and this Christmas season, wait with me.

Along with Mary. With Joseph.

Wait with me here.

God is speaking…….

“Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
That you may take it to its territory
And that you may discern the paths to its home?
“You know, for you were born then,
And the number of your days is great!
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
Which I have reserved for the time of distress,
For the day of war and battle?
“Where is the way that the light is divided,
Or the east wind scattered on the earth?

Photo from creative commons, flickr: Morten Nelson some rights reserved.

When the soul quiets

Small Miracles
 
A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire. Thomas Merton
 
By this time in December you are in one of two places. You are either madly scrambling around because you just realized that Christmas is less than one week away, or you have conceded that whatever has not been done up to this point will not get done and you can begin to relax and really enjoy pre-Christmas.
 
I am at the latter stage.  True Christmas can only be ushered in when the soul quiets. The world is outside and it continues to spin wildly out of control, but I try to back off. I try not to call people on the freeway names, although this time of the year it is increasingly difficult, even with the Jesus sticker deterrent on the back window.
 
This falls under the: “I am a Christian, but I am still human category.”
 
I daydream by the tree before the light of dawn creeps over the Superstitions. I realize it will soon be packed away along with the nativity scenes, but Jesus will stay.
 
In the quiet of my soul I imagine sitting by a window with big, fat flakes of snow falling outside and a fire on the hearth inside and the peace that happens when all the clamour and noise of life is far away.
 
That’s when you can hear God.
 
I look around and I realize how much I dearly value the people in my life, here once more with me at the close of another year. When you can look in their eyes and see eternity reflected back it’s not just a silly jewelry commercial, it’s why God came to this earth.
 
It’s the seeking and saving of that which was lost, all of us, and not only us, the whole creation. 
 
Just imagine if you will, alongside myriads of angels and us bowing before the Throne, the giant redwood and the smallest of woodland creatures doing the same. And why shouldn’t they? They will once again know a world without fear. The one Sin stole.
 
And all around us, while we see evidence of the brokenness of creation, we also see its mending. People who will not give up. People who will continue to risk their own lives for the poor, the broken, the weak.
 
The defenseless. The ones too weak and powerless to do anything about their own condition.
 
It’s God paying ransom with His very own Son. 
 

When heavy hearts give thanks

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Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus……1 Thessalonians 5:18

I have misheard and misunderstood this Scripture and caused myself much grief, packing a load on myself I was never meant to carry.  I have had to remind myself that  it doesn’t say to be thankful FOR for circumstance, but IN the circumstance. So today, I offer up thanks to a God who is worthy of all my gratitude, all the time.

Thank you Lord that even when our hearts are hurting, the fountain of thankfulness still somehow keeps bubbling to the surface. I woke up at around 2:30 and the first thing that popped into my mind was the line to the song that says:

Oh no, you never let go, through the calm and through the storm…….

Thank you for the twinkling lights outside my window for they remind me of what and who I am celebrating, and for the love of a friend who put them up when I know that all she wanted to do was put this Christmas on fast forward…..not the reason of it, for that she clings to, but all the stuff that goes along with it.

In her loss this season she still thinks of how she can make others happy, so she put the timer on so that I would see them when I left for work.  That kind of heart is what makes the Lord happy. 

That kind of gratitude when it isn’t easy is like shaking our fist in Satan’s face.  

Thank you Lord, for an Aunt who calls me even when she is going through her own kind of loss this year once again with her husband in a rest home….she misses her old life, but still she waves the flag of gratitude because she has her health and that she can see him each day.

And that most of the time, he is in a good mood.

Thank you Lord, for the classical station that actually came in this morning as I was driving to work. Those notes filled out a hollowed out place in my soul that I didn’t even realize was there until I heard it. It lifted me, made me better somehow. I believe that’s what good music should do.

And thank you that things at work are relatively calm right now. We are in between processes and winding down so I can have time to relax somewhat at my station and I really need that right now.

Especially now.

I feel  fatigued today, Lord.  I need those wings of eagles to lift me up…..in fact I can feel them now. I already feel better. And send a big eagle for Elaine. She needs one worse.

Your girl.

The Word that opens the door

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This morning as usual, I was distracted during prayer time. This time of year, there are so many things vying for our attention, and yet this one thing I cannot let go. This being with God in the morning. I had gone out earlier and lit my little heater and my candle. The shop was toasty by the time I got back in. I settled with my steaming mug….and then I was thinking about all the things on my list.

The cooky dough that was thawing on the counter.

My blog, and the changes I want to make around the first of the year.

The cookies in the freezer I still need to frost.

The things I need to ship……the uncoming trip……yada yada yada.

So I did the thing I always do when I am trying to turn my attention back to the Lord who really really deserves it. I opened the Word. That is always the doorway that leads to Him. His words spill over the page, and they are not just words some men wrote, but words the Holy Spirit wrote through those men.

I thought how He uses us as conduit, to reach a world that is desperately in need of Him. And I thought of the journey I have been on thus far and how much the Lord has brought me through. And it always makes me cry, because His faithfulness to me is endless.

My eyes fell on Psalm 18 where I had left my marker:

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me. 16-19

I thought of all the times the Lord has rescued me from myself…….again and again.

And and I love verses 27-29:

You save the humble
    but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
    my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
    with my God I can scale a wall.

I thought of all the situations in my life where there was most certainly a wall. And there was no going around it. I had to get through it. And it was and is prayer that has got me through……every single time.

Selah. God has marked the start of my day, He has taken note of it, this time together we share.

The Visitation

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The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” John 4:6

It was in December and the needle had just touched down on the album I was playing……that’s how you know this was years ago. It was albums and cassette tapes back then, not CDs. I remember looking out the window and seeing the ghostly white  fog as it enveloped the street. I felt cloaked in it, safe almost. The neighborhood seemed hushed, shrouded.

As the first strains to O Holy Night filled the air, I may have been praying or I may not have, I really don’t remember. All I do remember was that one minute I was listening to the song, and the next minute the Presence of the Holy Spirit appeared in that room. The words to that song were like hammer blows to my heart.

My soul was pierced. I didn’t see Jesus on the cross, but somehow I felt the magnitude of what He did and the depth and weight of His love was overwhelming. It was the deepest sense of humility I have ever felt before or since, and all I could do was bow my head to the ground and weep.

I thought about all the times in the Bible when angels revealed themselves and all the people could do was fall at their feet. I wept and cried from a place deeper than I ever thought possible. It was confusing, it was beautiful, and it was agony in the Spirit all at once because I felt the sorrow of God like an offering.

Wave upon wave it engulfed me. And it could have lasted 5 minutes or it may have been an hour. I lost track of time.

I remember the song ending  and I desperately didn’t want that Presence to leave so I played it again, and He stayed for a little while but then like a vapor He was gone. Like the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, He came and went like the wind.

And sometimes I still try to figure out why.

Why that particular day, why me?

And then I accept it once again for what it was……..a gracious gift from a God who loves me. If I ever doubted His presence before, I never did after that day. It remains a pure and untarnished moment as clear now as when it first happened all those years ago when Heaven came down.

How about you? Do you have a similar story of a time in your life when God came near? I would love to hear about it.

When Christmas seems impossible

She said, “I don’t know if I can go through with it.” It was all getting too complicated. “It” was the trip we had planned over Christmas. Saved for and scheduled. One of the most frustrating things about caregiving is you can never quite look forward to anything. Like the mirage of a flowing stream in the desert, plans have a way of vanishing as soon as you get too close. She said, “I didn’t want to mention it today, because I knew it would make you sad.” We were going up the escalator in the mall, and I felt the cloud of it following us. I knew she was overwhelmed. And again, I felt the injustice of it all. The pack on her back is getting heavier and no one is stepping up. Not even for a week.

Just then I remembered what I used to hear my Dad say every Christmas, “All I want is to go to a cabin in the woods.” He used to get a light in his eyes as he said it. I never got that, but I do now. The peace and simplicity of it all beckons like never before.

“Why do they get a choice?” I said, “Where is your choice?”

“It’s not as if you were waving your hand and saying, Pick me, pick me, when all this was decided.”

And still trying to take the blame, to shoulder it all, she says: “Maybe I should have handled it differently in the beginning, made them take part of the responsibility.” But the truth is, they still would have backed away, made excuses as to why not.

We made our way to the children’s section…….we were shopping for Birthday gifts for my niece,  having a day of purple in her honor. It’s her favorite color right now. I found the sweater with the lime green heart I saw in the ad, but we couldn’t pass up the striped top with the matching down vest. Kohl’s yielded a pair of purple boots and we were all set.

Later, as we sat at the food court watching people weave around and through us, all the humanity. All of us in the muck and the mire of being down here living life and I get the feeling that so many of these people have no idea what they are supposed to be celebrating. She said, “If I have to put her in a home over Christmas?” She didn’t finish, but I finished for her. “I know,” I said, “Your Mom hasn’t cared about Christmas for 30 years, but you do.”

Her head nodded affirmative…..sadly.

And last night after the Mall I watched her as she sat at the kitchen counter, separating out the purple sprinkles from the rest so that Lauryn would have a dash of purple on the swirl of pink cupcake that would go in the Birthday box. I thought of the Bible verse that says, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I thought, how blessed am I to have a friend who would, who does.

But honestly, I wondered. Where is reward for that kind of love, and should it not be rewarded? The outrage of it all flared at my heart. I remembered where she spent last Christmas, alone with her Mom at the hospital, not even knowing if she’d make it through. And all of a sudden, what I want more than anything in the world is for her to be happy, to be able to go on this trip.

And despite all this impossibility……Jesus touches down. In our hearts. And I am so thankful, because He turns impossibilities into possibilities.

Each and every day by His grace.

Note: this was rewritten, my earlier one was deleted. Sorry for any wierd posts today!