Musings

More than One Reason

Recently, I decided to loan my middle son one of my cherished books, a leather-bound edition of Mark Twain novels. I charged him to take special care of it and not leave it lying around on the floor as I have seen so many of the other books in our home. This book is special for more than one reason.

During my college years, when home became an allusive concept, a box of books traveled with me from my dorm room, to my aunt’s house, to my college townhouse, and finally to my first home I shared with my husband. Two small bookcases fit snug under the landing of our stairs, and I alphabetized my paltry collection.

That collection included the Mark Twain volume. The inscription reveals the transparency of what I consider my earthly treasure and its intrinsic value for my destiny. In many ways, it is synonymous with my identity.

But, there is more to it than that. There always is.

The inscription and the book itself means more because of the life-long friends who gave it to me.

The same could be said for The Prince and the Pauper. It is more than an historical fiction about two identical-looking boys switching places. It is about how changing places changes them. Read the whole story to see what I mean, but don’t miss the deeper meaning.

As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 NKJV

Books embody a gift and a heritage that ought to be extended to each generation. It is what the prince and the pauper discover at the end of their story. It defies mere wealth if we don’t let our selfishness get in the way. It is our entire purpose for living and the only thing we take with us when we die. It is why we celebrate Tom and Huck’s adventures and why we misunderstand Huck and Jim’s. It is reflected in the inscription within my Mark Twain book. It is inscribed somewhere else as well.

“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.”

Isaiah 49:16 NASB

Relationship.

Relationship is why every book is written, including God’s Word. His Book begins with the ending of a relationship. The ending reveals the new beginning. Story after story in the middle tells of men and women seeking a relationship with God. The real-life miracles go beyond any conjured magic within a fictional king’s court. This Book also tells of a Prince who leaves His throne and becomes a pauper.

John 6

Read the whole of the story, but don’t miss the deeper meaning. In fact, read it over and over. This is a Book worth knowing by heart.

Relationship is about what redeems the day. It is why a boy transforms into a young man while reading verses aloud and discussing a classic with his mother.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 NASB

Musings, Personal Parables

Anyway

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…

I finish reading Romans 12:10-13 and ask Myself, “What does it mean to ‘be devoted to one another in brotherly love’? How do I remain devoted to loving others who are unloving towards Me? How do I refrain from becoming unloving towards them?”

“Love them anyway,” Myself replies.

“Easier said than done,” sneaks in Me.

“How do I do that without the wrong motives?” I ask.

…give preference to one another in honor…

“Focus on loving the unloving through meaningful, vertical intangibles,” says Myself.

“Wow, that’s way too many words for Me,” complains Me. “You lost Me at ‘focus.’”

“Better tell Me more,” I return.

“Give and do nothing overtly tangible. Other people may not understand why I am not acting outwardly toward them as I did before with words or signs of affection or spending time with them. That’s okay. Love makes little sense at times. Unmasked love exposes its nonsensical nature. Sometimes a healthy distance is the best way to show love.”

“Then what?” I wonder.

…not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…

“Pick up the pace and serve God with my spiritual gifts and talents,” Myself continues. “Before picking up the pace, it may be necessary to pick up some broken pieces. I may have to set aside a few treasures—experiences and events I shared with these people.”

“That sounds like I’m rejecting them or giving up too much.”

“Not really. At the moment, see these cherished experiences and events as heirlooms I hope to share more widely again one day. For now, keep them shelved and preserved. Again, some may not understand why. Their questions are valid, but the answer probably wouldn’t satisfy them. Maybe it helps to say God is repairing this part of my heritage. To use it now would be to reflect a false representation of what it is meant to be. Rather than being an encouragement, true worship would be hindered. Instead, view the opportunities God has given as a new form of worship. It may take Me a little while to catch on to how God wants Me to catch up to Him on this particular path. It’s a good thing. He knows I have an asthmatic faith at times. He will slow down if I start sputtering and give Me a pep talk.”

“Such as?” challenges Me.

…rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

“God, in all His wisdom, knows a vertical focus on Him results in a divine transfer of His love for Me and my love for Him to those I encounter on Earth’s horizontal plane.”

“Let’s break it down, so I get what each of these action items means.” I suggest.

“Good idea.” Me agrees.

“’Rejoicing in hope’ is a continual going back to joy again and again while hoping for the relationship’s improvement.

“‘Persevering in tribulation’ means enduring through the past trouble’s ramifications, present obstacles, and future schemes.

“Remaining ‘devoted to prayer’ assures one form of communication stays open—the one between God and Me.”

“But, isn’t there some way to show love outwardly?” I ask.

“Yes, by directing love indirectly through tangible means.”

“Huh?” Me questions.

“’Contributing to the needs of the saints’ is not just stepping back for them to serve and stepping up my own service. It also requires serving the needs of family and friends together by solving our own differences, keeping others out of it as much as possible. If others have been included, it is essential to free them from the obligation of taking a side. If they want to help, we ask them to join us in the first three meaningful, vertical intangibles of rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, and being devoted to prayer.

“’Practicing hospitality’ requires welcoming everyone, including those who have been unloving. Just because they have shut their door to direct tangible expressions of love doesn’t mean I slam and deadbolt all my doors against them.”

“But, what about protecting Myself from more hurt?” quakes Me.

“I can’t allow them into my personal spaces, especially if they continue to invade my privacy while evading resolution.”

“Whew!”

“But, I must not deter them from entering our shared spaces. They may not want Me there, and some days I may feel the same about them. Yet, I have No Choice about keeping those doors unlocked and propped open.”

“That doesn’t sound as simple…” I begin.

“…as it doesn’t sound,” Me interrupts. “Good grief, woman! You’ll be lucky if anyone reads all the way to the end of this post. Also how come more of the work falls on Me?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” I quip.

“So unfair! Get to the point.”

“Very well. Here’s the point,” redirects Myself. “The beauty of these meaningful, vertical intangibles is the unloving have no control over them. They may not be aware…”

“…or care…” (That’s Me again.)

“…at first about the influence my personal relationship with God is having on them. They can do nothing to stop that influence. But, there is another thing they can’t stop as long as Me, Myself, and I are in agreement.”

“What?” I say.

“They can’t stop Me from loving them anyway.”

“Unless?” Me asks.

“I let them.”

Love never gives up. 1 Corinthians 13:4b

Musings, Poetry

All at Once

The other day, latent intermittent snowflakes dallied down upon the spring-green lawn. Last fall’s crumpled leaves lay along the graying fence, and the promise of summer sunshine glowed behind the shadows.

Viewing the seasons all at once happens only in certain places. Such a moment of colliding conditions is a fact of living here.

It is also a fact of living. Only God could create this great all-at-once view of my own colliding conditions.

Last fall’s crumpled leaves that lie along my graying fence are best palm-rubbed to their veins and used as a drab confetti for a private victory.

Latent intermittent snowflakes dally down on still-sleeping seeds that know it is too early to open up and remain sealed come what may.

Upon Spring’s green grass, frost may fight the dew.

But, not far away, there it is.

That promised summer sunshine glowing behind the shadows.

Musings

Divine Diversion

Jarrod and Grandma 2010

On a whim,  I veered north instead of west. My middle son’s appointment had ended, and the morning was nearly over anyway. He had brought along Frog and Toad. Why not stop by and read to Great-Grandma before lunch?

Taking this picture and recording his reading to her was a passing thought. I usually forget my camera. I suppose the granddaughter of someone with Alzheimer’s should know better than to rely on memory for recalling such moments. Something beyond my usual practice prompted me to capture this serendipitous, yet poignant picture six years ago today.

For how could I have known a month and a day later, on her eighty-sixth birthday, my beloved grandmother would have a stroke? How could I have perceived my own future need to preserve this encounter between her and my son after witnessing her passing into eternity on April 29, 2010?

For as long as I knew her, my grandmother’s daily prayer was for God to direct her to the person she needed to minister to that day. How could I have known God would divert my path on March 18, 2010 so we could minister to one another one more time?

Every day this week there has been something to commemorate: Pi Day, the Ides of March, John 3:16, and St. Patrick’s Day. I declare March 18 to be Divine Diversion Day. Just as I veered north that day not knowing the eternal “why,” God steered me in a divine direction today so I could celebrate this moment in my family’s history.

Let God divinely divert you today. You never know what future celebration He may have in store for you.

 

 

Musings, Uncategorized

In the Middle of the Clay

In 1985, I am not where I would like to be. Back to the Future comes out this year, and I put science-fictional hope in a DeLorean. The St. Louis Cardinals face the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. I become a fast fan, even if Kansas City wins. The point is, in the middle of this Missouri clay, I find my play.

A blank book rests on my lap and a pen moves along the groove of my writer’s callous. My other hand counts out a syllabic meter to accompany a rhyme out of my own form of reason. Writing free verse between story-problem equations provides the unknown I have been trying to solve for fourteen years. The words click together, and I flip the page. Precision and pseudo-perfection will appear later. This is a mere draft of something yet to be. I discover my passion. I know my purpose. This is my play.

1986 is a good year. Especially for prophetic poetry.

Because in 1987, I am back where I thought I would never be again. I am a Twins fans again. Yet, this is a sequel. Nothing is quite the same as when or where I left it. As if there is a disruption in the space-time-continuum. The point is, in the middle of that Missouri clay, I did find my play.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB

In 2015, we are not where I would like us to be. Back to the Future celebrates its travel thirty years into the future, and the Kansas City Royals win the World Series again. There must be a disruption in space-time-continuum. Nothing is quite the same as when or where I leave it. The point is, no longer in the middle of Missouri’s clay, I still find my play.

After all, I am not hoping in a science-fictional DeLorean to correct the future’s problems and solve the past’s unknowns. The point is, in the middle of any misery’s clay, He shows me my play.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

2016 is going to be a good year. Maybe even for prophetic poetry.

Because in 2017, we could be back where we thought we would never be again.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:6-9, 16-18 NIV