Psalm 139 and 3/4

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“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

He has indeed called us Heavenward. And even as we battle down here we are thinking of that hereafter, that future time where the cares of this world are but a lost memory.

And as I lay awake in the dark tallying up my worries, thinking about all the things I wish I could fix but can’t, I write my own Psalm and call it 139 and three-quarters.

For the umpteenth time, I give Him my laundry list of things, those that He already knows about me and I feel it float Heavenward as He assures me He loves me anyway, again.

When sleep is snatched away by the cares of this world, I pray in the wide awake moments before dawn and I feel the peace of my home surrounding me like a cloak. Though worldly sorrow nips at the edges of my heart, the hope of His peace seeps in and around it like Holy smoke. This is the prayer I pray: 

“Bind us together Lord, bind us together with cords that cannot be broken.”

And then I think of the sock that made its way into my suitcase. Her little sock.

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I don’t know how it got there, but I am glad it came back with me.

I think of all the pictures I didn’t take, and how my camera never left its bag. And how I couldn’t care less because what we had instead was much more beautiful.

I thought of how we hid every possible place in the house and how she covered her eyes and counted and giggled as we crouched together in the dark closet while my Dad looked for us. She still hasn’t got the part where she is supposed to stay quiet while she hides, and that makes it all the more precious somehow.

Years from now, I will remember how we all collapsed on the couch after we were done, and how Mom came in and asked what we had all been doing to look so exhausted.

I thought of how I put swim goggles on along with my wrinkles and flat hair and went all the way under the water because she wanted to see me under there with her. I can still hear her shriek of excitement, “You too, Nori!”

It was also a weekend of some firsts. She sat down beside me on the couch with a book and let me read to her, something I have dreamed of ever since she was born. It was like a mini miracle. And how she wedged herself into the couch close by me, wanting to be right by my side all weekend long.

We went to the store together and she helped me shop. Another first. Store was always a scary place for her before.

No, I didn’t get one photograph of fall, not one red leaf, not one landscape of how the morning mist lay in the vineyards, and not the one of the old barn I saw either. Sometimes life just can’t be freeze framed, it has to be lived. The leaf you see is one I took a year or so ago.

This was not the time to chase the perfect shot. It was the time to savor, and treasure, and corral that which there is never enough of.

Time.

That’s what the sock reminded me of.

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And looking at it now, I’m smiling as big as the face on the sock because when I look at it, I can still hear “You too, Nori!”

Sometimes, Heaven’s a place you can find here. It’s in the love shining out from the eyes you leave and come home too.

God’s way of saying He loves us.

God’s love reaches what you can’t fix

Convicted

I fretted, I worried, I prayed. Then I asked others to pray. Then I flew back with a speech all prepared in my heart, hoping God would hollow out the perfect time. You know, how you wish it would work. At just the right time, the clouds part and the sun would beam down upon my heart and before me on the wall would be brandished the words:

Now is the time.

Maybe it happened and maybe I missed it. But God taught me something anyway. You can’t fix everything or even anything but you can always love. Things happen, life gets in the way, sometimes people get sick or they’re not emotionally available. Or maybe you aren’t. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t in it. Love is still present. God is still working behind the scenes. He is just that big.  And maybe sometimes just loving and being there is all God wants us to do. Maybe it’s the most important thing any of us can do.

Love is patient, love is kind. But sometimes it hurts like hell. 

In the Doctor’s office with my Dad, I gave just as big a sigh of relief as he did when he learned that he had a reprieve from a shot in his eye. It seems the treatments are doing what they are supposed to so it was a good appointment. I was thankful I could be there.

Tyler, the dog everyone shares is getting older too. He has his playful moments and his bark is fearsome if you don’t know him, but he no longer hops into the car. His hips are stiff and he hesitates at the door. He’s my walking buddy in the mornings at my brother’s house. He still bounds ahead of me, and if I cross the street to the orchard, he waits at the end of the driveway faithfully until I get back.

One morning my Mom opened the paper and found that another friend and school-mate had died. That led to talking of others who had gone on before. In your eighties Heaven must seem close. We talked of who we wanted to see there first, besides Jesus of course.

And always, time to leave presses up against the present.

The day before I left, a little girl was already worried about when “Nori goes home.” She is ten but she still struggles with “L’s.” And when we left her at school, we didn’t mention it. They dealt with the emotion when they picked her up at school. Separation anxiety.

I think we all have it.

Deep down, we know we’ve all been separated from our forever home, the one we were meant to have. We know something is not quite right. And we spend all our lives trying to get back there.

Thank you Jesus, for being that one way.

No more goodbyes ever again. And though it takes the sting out of the goodbyes here and now, I still felt it as I looked back once more through tears as they drove off dabbing their own eyes.

In all of our comings and goings, and behind the hope and dream of every trip home and every trip back, He remains.  And more importantly, He is big enough to fix what I never could anyway.

Prayer this morning: “Lord I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Amen

The Traveler’s Prayer

Home

Thank you Lord for going before me.

Thank you for being there through security, and all the hassle that brings.

Thank you for being there as I sit on the plane, as I close my eyes right before that time my heart quickens just for a moment when I think of all the things that might possibly go wrong when I am high up in the air.

Thank you for being there when the squeak of the tires hit the tarmac and everyone scrambles to get bags……..

to be the first off the plane……to rush to the next thing.

Help me to cherish every single moment when I first see their faces.

Because it’s never just another trip.

It is a chance to love them again, while we are all still here.

Fill in the gaps Lord, with your Holy Spirit and let peace fill all places in between.

Bind us all together and help us let go of all the small irritants that sometimes get in the way like unwelcome static on the radio.

Help this time be valuable.

Open lines of communication as only You can do.

And help me to remember above all, love.

And that sometimes love means action,

sometimes it means the right words.

Sometimes it just means being there.

Give me the courage and wisdom to know what to do when.

Because, as you know, I am good at getting them all mixed up and out of order.

Thank you God,

Your girl down here.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Psalm 139:1-6