Looking for a little Narnia

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Lucy and Aslan

I remember a time when the world felt safe. Oh, I know it has never been totally safe, but in my reality it was. Every kid needs to feel safe so that when they grow up and find they have lost their way and everything looks dark and scary they will be able to pull that memory out. Lately the world doesn’t feel safe or kind. I scrolled through my Facebook news feed today and I swear I could hear it screaming.

I heard from the Anti-guns, Anti-gays, Anti-Gods, Anti-Religions, and Anti-Governments, and Anti-Muslims, and Anti-Christians and mostly everyone sounded angry. I looked around for home and reached back to a time before death and sorrow and misunderstandings and hurt feelings and sadness.

I remembered a world brimming with hope. There are so many things I don’t understand. I wish for a little Narnia, a little Middle Earth. In those worlds everything is cut and dried. Forces of evil are fought by forces of good and good prevails. End of story.

Too often in this world we don’t even know who the real enemy is. Everything is twisted and confused and misconstrued. We look for justice and we don’t see it coming any time soon. Sometimes we even turn on each other out of frustration. We wish for a world where everyone is on the same side. We wish there weren’t any sides.

I don’t understand why evil is allowed to flourish. Yesterday I heard someone ridicule a Christian believer for believing in talking snakes, well I happen to believe that impossible things can happen in God’s world because nothing is impossible with Him. I believe that if He has to use a talking donkey  to scare some sense into Balaam, then that’s exactly what He will do.

Then the LORD gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.

I happen to believe God wants justice for donkeys and humans alike. You see, the donkey saw an angel which Balaam was too thick-headed to see. Sometimes animals are smarter than humans. I happen to believe in a world where sometimes God produces miracles out of madness.

And the world is more than a little mad right now. We have known terrorists on our FBI most wanted lists planning attacks yet we can do nothing until they kill scores of people. Instead our authorities choose to go after a little boy who shared some Scripture to his school friends. It’s an upside down world. A world where you can easily lose your way.

Jesus asks us to do just one thing each day. To take the hand He offers and find the courage to get up and start walking on wobbly knees just like those He healed. I don’t know about you, but something in me needs healing every day. And the older I get, the more things need healing.

Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. (Note that Jesus first asked the man to get up. Sometimes just getting up is the hardest thing to do.) John 16:33

I remember what Elaine always said when she was going through the Alzheimer’s with her Mom, “I just keep going forward,” she would tell me, “Because if I stopped I may never want to get up again.” Because she knew where her help came from she was able to do what seemed impossible at the time.

Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” The Message

There is an end to this race we’re on and the good news is that He’s already won it for us.

Take a step of healing with me won’t you?

She Waits

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It’s a glorious thing to watch the waking sky glow peach and fill up with birds. I saw that this morning, and thinking back, I remember a time when such a sight left me unmoved due to depression. I never forgot those times, for they make these times so appreciated. Maybe that’s what the the dark teaches us.

This morning my prayer began simply enough…….”Settle the flutter and static in my mind Lord, turn the world down and You up.”

It is still deep winter in the woods I imagine. I am thinking of snowbanks and quiet clearings even though here in the desert it is promised to warm to 70 today. I long to hear the whisper of falling snow as it covers the ground. Sometimes I ache for that deep quiet like no other.

Nature waits at the edges of our whole busy world yet why don’t we make enough effort to join it? To immerse ourselves in its magnificent beauty?

Winter draws her cloak around herself and stokes the fire and embers shoot up toward the morning star……..She settles in for the long wait. Part of the peace of Winter is in the wait. The world lies quiet under wraps waiting the grand rebirth of itself in the Spring–it mirrors a bigger action. A much bigger waiting.

One day the Grand Master will take up His brush one final time and the world will watch in stunned silence as the Earth and Heaven are reborn one final time, restored to its former glory when the morning stars sang together and the Angels joined all of creation in rejoicing.

That day, He will say “It is finished” for the last time.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Romans 8:18-22

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:4-7

Advent: The Best Gift

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“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 

This morning we were surprised by rain yet again. I heard it as I huddled in the candlelight of my increasingly cramped closet. Bags of unwrapped presents are stuffed in corners here and there, but I was snug there in the light of my little tabletop tree. I marveled at the wonderful gift I have had, the past three days off work have been peaceful and stress free. I still have two more left.

Outside, there is a world full of war and by the look of the people in the mall yesterday and the day before, a world full of stress, and expectation, and some debt to go along with it. There is strife and rushing to meet a deadline…..deadlines for decisions, deadlines at work, deadlines to meet Christmas.

But here in this quiet place, I cup my coffee in my hands and I thank Jesus for always bringing me joy in the morning, whatever doubts and worry might visit me in the wee hours of the dark. He always brings me fresh hope. The same hope that was born in that stable so long ago.

He came quietly into the night and settled into our world almost unnoticed, kind of like this little snowflake. There are so many, you see. It’s easy to plow through them when they are all stuck together, but when they separate you notice the hand of the grand Artist at work. The brushstrokes of His genius are everywhere.

But they came embodied all in one little human that night in the stable.

He’s all grown up and back at Home now.

But still giving me all the Hope I need still my time on this earth is finished and He calls me home.

Outside there is a lot going on.

Here not much, just a little hollowed out place He can call His own. Just for a little while longer, I will watch my candle flicker and wait.

A few of my favorite things......

Morning Journal, October 12

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference…….Robert Frost.

I walked out with blank pages but somehow I knew that words would come. They usually always do when I am outside under the sky. I have kept a journal for years and years now. I quit for a while when all the days started to sound the same and it was more like me whining. When I started again it turned into more of a prayer journal. I started it because I didn’t want to forget all those little miracles that happen in a day. I wanted it on record, my way of thanking God on paper. Now when I go back and read all the answered prayers, all the big and little moments I smile and remember just how big He is and how small my little worries were.

Where does the time go? Now the morning air is cool–a co-worker joked, here the leaves don’t change, the license plates do. He and I both got a kick out of that one. I do miss seeing the leaves turn. I miss the red, yellow and brown spiraling to the ground, tossed by the wind. But I always feel them in my heart just the same.  Up North they are turning and we don’t go to see God’s spectacle. There always seems to be something pressing here.

Had the first fire in the fire-pit. That means fall here in the valley of the sun. My friend at work will be in Yosemite today. I remember fall there–the big gold leafed oaks in the meadow, standing like sentries there in the sun. I remember the crunch of leaves mingled with pine-needles underfoot. And the smoke from campfires filling in all the crevasses way up amongst the tall pines. I remember the one year we got snow.

We all went out to the edge of the meadow to watch it settle on the granite cliffs like a master baker somewhere up above was sifting powdered sugar down. So many good memories.

Too doves are resting on the wall soaking in the early sun, one just now came to drink at the fountain. The all made it through dove season and that’s a good thing.

Another good thing. When I was just writing these words, I wasn’t worried or stressed about anything at all. That is some kind of a small miracle.

Thank you God, for such a good start to the day. It always amazes me that I can go through a dry spell for weeks and have no words at all, but then I get two or three blog posts one right after the other.

That’s how writing is, it’s like faith. Somehow you know the words are there somewhere and that maybe right now you have nothing, but tomorrow or the next day you will. Always there.

Miracle at the DMV

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Yesterday we went on a little “adventure” at the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles. I volunteered to go along with Elaine as she attempted to straighten out her CDL license paperwork which was mysteriously “not in the system” even though it was mailed on time. I don’t think anyone should have to go to the DMV alone, so I went along for the ride. Well, actually I went along for the “wait.” As it turns out, the computer system goes down quite regularly there, especially on Mondays and Fridays, which would explain why her paperwork was somewhere floating around in cyber-space.

We walked down a little hallway into the “CDL” section which was a little room filled with plastic chairs which had seen better days. They needed a good scrubbing with bleach which they had never seen, and there were odd marks on the walls. The line was already forming but there were a few chairs left so we took the two available and settled in for the wait. About 20 minutes in, they announced that the “system was down” and it could be anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours.

They offered to hand out some slips whereby we could go to breakfast and come back, assuring our place in line but we opted to stay for the long haul and I began praying that the system would come up sooner rather than later. Well, I should say most of the time I was praying, some of the time I was commiserating along with everyone else. We got a little ticket that said we were number 25. The little display screen that showed the number being served was miserably dead. We waited for a flicker of life.

Meanwhile the poor lady that was behind the counter (I wouldn’t have wanted that job for all the tea in China) was displaying an enormous amount of fortitude and goodwill. Not to mention patience. We sat and played Trivia and Words with Friends back and forth and I in turn observed, as I always do, the people around me. It never fails. There’s always one in the room who isn’t clear and doesn’t listen to the announcements. And there is always at least one who constantly questions the whole entire system.

As I looked around, I thought, these are working people who just want to do their jobs. None of them were being paid to be there and probably most of them couldn’t afford to be off work for the day. But there we all were in earthly purgatory, helpless and at the mercy of the SYSTEM. The guy sitting in front of us was alternately looking at scantily clad women on his phone. The other guy, mister “stand up and sit back down” was reading a book called, “I hope they have beer in Hell.” I wanted to tell him I was almost positive they didn’t and that he most assuredly didn’t want to go there even if they did.

As I looked around, I found myself thinking, each life here is precious to God. None of us looked like anything close to miraculous but as we live and breathe we are. I wanted to stand up and tell them all that Jesus loved them. From the one speaking in broken English, to the one who looked like he just crawled out of bed, and the one wearing the T-shirt that said, “Beer is proof that God loves us.” And everyone in between, even me.

Then, to make things even more bizarre, they made another announcement that it had started to rain and that, “Due to the rain, there will be no road driving tests.” What?? Don’t people drive in the rain? We all looked at each other with a sense of bewilderment. If that were the case in other states, such as Oregon or Washington, then nobody would ever be granted a driving license.

I leaned toward Elaine and whispered, “At least this time there is no pesticide guy.” No joke, last time we went to the Apache Junction DMV a guy came in with one of those pesticide tanks on his back and proceeded to spray the entire room, including and around people’s feet where they were standing at booths taking the written driving tests! The bizarre thing was, no one paid much attention as the smell wafted around us.”

After about an hour, a miracle occurred and the system blinked to life. They made the announcement and the display screen flickered to life. It said now serving “1.” Number one went back into another room and we didn’t hear anything else for an hour. Then they started calling more numbers. They skipped a bunch, and finally they called Elaine up, gave her a gold stamp of approval and said three magic words, “You’re all set.” Apparently, once the system came back up it found her in it. And no payment was needed to have it reinstated. (Miracle number two.)

We thanked the lady profusely for how she handled the customers, and the situation at hand and she beamed in gratitude.

Everyone waiting seemed to be happy for us, all those nylon short clad, dirty Levi, greasy haired clan of men collectively clapped and cheered when Elaine announced, “Since we are all friends now I guess I can leave.” I gave the victory sign, smiled and said, “Good luck.”

And peace be with you……….

Between Earth and Heaven

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Sometimes, there is a slice taken out of time that lets you see just a little view. Something bigger than the here and now. This afternoon it was a song that rent the sky and let a sliver of light down right in the midst of my day. I was absently thinking why I don’t cry much anymore. It’s not really for lack of things to cry about because everyone I know is going through hard things. I guess it’s because there remain so many things to be thankful for……joy is much more rewarding than the sadness that seems to spring out from every corner these days. There are times to cry, but then you get up and go on. So this afternoon when I heard the lines of the song, it was as if I was hearing an old familiar tune from long ago. Or something I knew all along but needed to be reminded of. Or how I imagine it will be when my folks pass on and I hear a song they loved. That’s what brought the tears. And it wasn’t a bad feeling, it was just the Holy Spirit reminding me He was and is still here. That’s when I heard the words from the song “Shoulders” by For King and Country”

My help comes from You You’re right here, pulling me through You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders Your shoulders My help comes from You You are my rest, my rescue I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders Your shoulders……

Sometimes we just need to be reminded where our help comes from, even though we know it in our hearts and minds and everywhere in between. I felt such a burden right then for everyone I saw around me. As I wheeled my shopping cart down the aisles I saw people just living life picking out items, cereal, bananas, beer, anything and everything that makes their world go round. And as I smiled at the lady in front of me at checkout I noticed that she did smile but it was almost like it pained her. More like a grimace. I wondered what burdens she carried along with her to the store.

Enough ruminating. But the whole experience changed my afternoon and evening. It was touched with Merton, I guess you could say. He said this:

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.
Just when I had this all captured after I got home, I hit a key on WordPress and immediately my whole post disappeared. So I gave up and went outside to sit with the mourning doves out on the deck. One of them, we have been watching has made her nest on top of the block wall. We hope and pray they will be hatched before the infernal heat hits.
I sat as the gray clouds whirled around me and the mosquitoes came out. Tapping out my letters I heard the whirl of hummingbird wings and didn’t dare turn my head, but only my eyes. He went to each section, every side. I scarcely breathed sitting still as a stone. It was another slice of Heaven, a miracle unlooked-for.
A reward at the end of the day. That, is really what we have. Each and every day if we can only see it. And give thanks.

When confusion’s my companion And despair holds me for ransom I will feel no fear I know that You are near When I’m caught deep in the valley With chaos for my company I’ll find my comfort here ‘Cause I know that You are near

You mend what once was shattered And You turn my tears to laughter Your forgiveness is my fortress Oh Your mercy is relentless My help is from You Don’t have to see it to believe it My help is from you Don’t have to see it, ‘cause I know, ‘cause I know it’s true

“Shoulders”

for King and Country

Lent Day 44: Hope beyond Maundy Thursday

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It was just a spot of yellow I saw from a distance. It drew me into the clearing and I paused, admiring it for blooming there all alone, with no crowd to see it, no fellow companions like those I saw earlier planted in huge clusters along the path. But it bloomed anyway and it made me feel like I was witnessing something tragic and brave and heroic. But I saw it. It showed me that it’s never a waste to bloom no matter where you are.

It’s the last day of Lent and I will never forget these posts. When I prayed, and waited, He never failed to supply the words. Every….. single……time.

But now it’s Maundy Thursday and I am empty. And sad. I feel like I am in that dark little room with Jesus and the disciples right after it all went sour. Right after Judas left and Jesus just informed them that they would all leave Him before the night was out.

Sometimes it’s hard to hope in Heaven when it seems so far away. Sometimes there are just days where you’re stuck in the sadness of Maundy Thursday and life seems like a big tangled ball of twine that’s impossible to manage. I ache for everyone I care about and I can do nothing to make all their situations better. And yet I know this too shall pass.

The sun will rise tomorrow and we will be one day closer to Resurrection. And God fixing everyone and everything once and for all. But until then, there are plenty of things to be thankful for.

I hear my Mom’s voice in my head telling me, “The birds are still singing, Lori” and that makes me want to cry.

I remember the old Indian man in the movie, “Little Big Man” who decided that it was a good day to die.He goes up to the mountain, spreads his blanket and lays down and closes his eyes, face to the sky. You think maybe he did die, but then rain starts to fall and his eyes blink.

He rolls up his blanket and goes home. It may not be a good day to die, but somedays, it’s okay to cry for awhile, then roll up your blanket and go home.

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 62:5

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