Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘memories’

MB900431278[1]Our Christmas program at church took place yesterday. It was filled with music, a little drama and a bit of narration to tie it all together.  I composed the narration and as I wrote in an earlier blog, I agonized over every word, praying it would be exactly right to bring people closer to Christ.

I want to share with you a piece of that narration I never could have known would have much deeper meaning in light of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

To introduce the part of our program that emphasized the birth of Jesus and led into a touching rendition of “Isn’t He Beautiful”, I wrote the following:

What child is born that a mother’s heart doesn’t melt the moment she sees his squirming wrinkled body?   What long anticipated newborn comes into this world that a mother’s love doesn’t overflow in a flood of emotion?

The weight of carrying, the pain of labor – all forgotten in the moment of that baby’s first cry.  A mother’s heart swells and she is convinced at that moment that her child is more beautiful, more perfect, more amazing than any other.

Mary was no different than other mothers in that respect. But when she gazed upon the infant Savior, she was consumed with much more than motherly love.

Mary saw a miracle, a mystery,  a majesty far beyond anything she’d ever experienced.  And at that moment, this woman of grace exhaled her last normal oxygen filled breath, and inhaled a new life.

Never again would her lungs expand without the presence of Jesus filling them.

Never again would she speak without the experience of Jesus softening her words.

Never again would her arms reach out without the feel of Jesus in them.

And this is the same for each and every one who lays down the former life and embraces the Christmas miracle.

As those words were shared during the program Sunday, my heart rushed to the parents grieving for lost children in Newtown, Connecticut. A senseless, tragic, unimaginable few moments have left them shattered. There are no words of comfort that could ease their pain, no quote of scripture that will cause the tears to stop falling – at least for a time. Grief, while it may soften, will be their constant companion for the rest of their life.

But the words God gave me for that narration reminded me of what we take for granted every day.  We have nothing except what God gives. The people we treasure in this life are merely on loan, sent by God’s grace to enhance our experience. Mary certainly discovered the truth of this when she watched her Son die.

Here is a wonderful reality in a time of great loss.  The physical presence of a loved one is gone, but God makes sure the memories are left behind to carry us through our time of grieving.

Like the words in the narration, here is what those parents are left with.  They will never again take a breath without the presence of their child filling it, never again speak without the experience of their child softening their words, never again reach out their arms without the feel of their child filling them. The experience of a child, regardless of how short the time span, changes us forever.

Nothing justifies the evil that took those children away.

But God, in His great compassion, will not leave those mothers and fathers bankrupt. He is prepared to fill their emptiness, catch their tears, heal their hearts and gently care for their children until they are reunited in the moment He chooses to bring them together again. Let us pray that through the cloud of pain and grief, they can see the hand of God extended.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:4

Read Full Post »

MH900400203[1]These are the things I love about Christmas –

  • The music, subtle in the background but so familiar you don’t need to hear it well to hum along
  • The colors, poinsettia red and halo gold,  evergreen and shiny silver
  • The characters of Christmas, angels and elves, boisterous Santa  and gentle Jesus
  • The attitudes of Christmas, of giving and sharing, smiling and caring

These are the things I don’t like about Christmas –

  • The commercialism that says spend more, buy more in the spirit of giving
  • The frenzy that brings mothers to the end of their rope, children to wailing frustration, and shoppers to disregard people in pursuit of the perfect present
  • The element of crime, ever in pursuit of an unguarded purse, an unlocked door, a car full of packages with no one around to hear the shattering of glass
  • The pressure to break budgets, max out credit cards, outdo the other gift givers
  • The fact that love and good tidings will last for a few short weeks and be forgotten for eleven long months as the world gets back to its lonely, cold, cruel and selfish self

How will children ever truly feel the wonder and magic that comes with the sacrifice of burdened parents to put one very special gift under the tree when they have become accustomed to piles of packages and shelves overflowing with everything they ever had a whim for?

How will husbands ever burst with pride over a beautiful handmade shirt, created in secret moments behind closed doors, when their closet bulges with more of the store bought kind than they could ever wear in a lifetime?

How will wives ever appreciate simple searched out treasures that took time and effort and actual thought when they have at their fingertips all of the magical gadgets ever invented to lighten their load, clutter their counters and make a home cooked meal happen in a few minutes?

And most important, how will a weary world ever find the gentle arms of a loving, compassionate God when they shove His son into a cardboard box and store Him away until the stores stock their shelves once more with their pseudo signs of Christmas, reminding people it’s time to take Him out again?

Did Bethlehem walk away from the glow of the manger and get so caught up in the  dust and the demands of their daily struggle they forgot the miracle until the anniversary rolled around again? Did the shepherds go back to their grumbling existence, forgetting the brilliant light and heavenly song? Did the Kings let the fulfillment of prophecy fade from memory with each mile they traveled back to their homelands?

Why doesn’t the heart born of the beauty in the Christmas season stay full and fresh with the bounty of the Christmas message? Is our good news of a Savior not more powerful than all of the bad news of a world in trouble?

Yes! He is more powerful. His goodness outshines all acts of cruelty. His sacrifice overshadows all displays of selfishness. His love overcomes all hatred.

We can keep Christmas, the good and gentle and golden bits of it, in evidence every day all year long if we will challenge ourselves to carry the Christ child with us wherever we go. Don’t put Him away with ornaments. Instead, read His words every day, hang His star in every room of your home, take His love into loveless places, extend His kindness to the hurting, pray His presence into dark places, share His life saving message with the dying.

Never forget, it’s not the commercial driven world that determines at what point in the year to ring in the Christmas season. It’s the Spirit driven life that vows to keep the Christmas message ringing every day.

I pray you will store up the awe struck faces of the children, the soft glow of the lights as snow falls, the sweet scent of pine boughs, the tug of a familiar carol floating on the air, the touch of a loved one, the crackle of wrapping paper, the surprise and the joy and the wonder of the next few weeks and let them continue to inspire you for the next 345 days.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him.  1 John 4:16

Read Full Post »

Thanksgiving rolls around again bringing with it the scent of pumpkin pie, the sound of family interacting, the feel of damp late fall days, the sight of autumn on the grass and snow on the hilltops, and the taste of turkey smothered in rich gravy.  Of all our holidays, this one stirs the five senses like no other.

Oh that it would stir our hearts into a frothy mound as high as the whipped cream we pile on our desserts.

We are such a people of plaintive nature, freely expressing our complaints about everything and anything.  I’m up to here, especially after the exposure of an elections year, with negativity. I want my heart to feast this Thanksgiving day, not my stomach.

I want to look around the room at my precious family and swell with the melted butter glory of God’s goodness. I am not alone and I am ever grateful. Many are and my heart breaks for them.

I will bask in the hugs and laughter and I will treasure the memories dripping with whip cream wars, lumpy gravy, rolls that forgot to rise, pumpkin pies missing a key ingredient (sugar) and Grandma Mae’s boiled turkey that ended her career as hostess for our family dinner.

I will remember with tears the Thanksgiving my mom passed away but will smile at the grace and strength she showed in the process.

Like salt and pepper on a green bean casserole I will be blessed by the changes in the past year evidenced around the table with taller children, more seasoned marriages, talk of a new driver’s license, a High School graduation, a new job and so much more my ears will be busier than my elbow lifting the fork.

I will thank God as I look around for taking a bunch of oddly shaped potatoes and helping them to soften into a fluffy mound of family, still bearing a few lumps but for the most part, all mingled together with mouth watering love.

I will be sad for the ones who can’t be here this year, happy for the ones who can, and nostalgic for the ones who never will be again.

I’m going to try to put a lid on any simmering political discussions. I’ll sprinkle sugar on sour grapes, turn down the stove before a conversation heats up and stuff a piece of pie in the mouth of sibling rivalry.

When it’s all over and I’m slumped in my rocker by the fire, I’ll pat my way too full heart and thank God for the millionth time for what I have, for what He has done and for what is yet to come.

 Psalm 34:1  I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

P.S. You may have noticed I’ve missed a couple of Monday posts. Between trying to write a 5,000 novel in November, writing the Christmas pageant script and surviving this very busy open enrollment period at work, I’m going to have to back off the blog a little.  So I’m going to once a week for the rest of the year. 

 

Read Full Post »

I promise this will be the last post dedicated to my vacation on the Harley but this was too good not to share.

On the next to the last day of our trip we were in Dubose Wyoming, a quaint little town with a mining history, a definite country flavor and a great little restaurant called the Cowboy Café.  We woke to a temperature of about 34 degrees.  In case I haven’t told you , I am a fair weather rider.  I hate to be cold and anything less than 70 degrees on a motorcycle is cold, at least to me.  I suggested we wait awhile before pulling out to let it warm up a little (or preferably a lot) .  Of course, the boys scoffed at that idea. We needed to get on the road even if we had to brush the frost off our leather seats.

Imagine my glee when we discovered neither bike would start.  I was told not to hurry to check out of the nice warm motel room. I disguised my bitter disappointment.  

I was also asked to pull out my tablet and research possible reasons for a motorcycle not starting in 30 degree weather.  (Now, I could have told them the reason without the help of the world wide web – it was too darn cold!  But I kept that wisdom to myself.)

In my search for information I stumbled on a Harley Davidson chat room.  A rider from Alaska had asked if anyone had advice for getting a bike to start on a cold morning.  The first response from a sympathetic fellow biker was, “Move to Californy.”  I knew right then I was going to love this research.

I started reading the responses aloud, getting more and more tickled as I went. One guy said to use a blow torch.  We didn’t have one so I offered my hair dryer.  They didn’t bite.  Another very wise Harley owner said “try again next spring”, sage advice if you ask me.  There were more, but better than the suggestions were some of the slogans the bikers had added to their responses.   Here are just a few:

“I have taken a vow of poverty.  If you really want to irritate me, send money now.”

“Everyone has to believe in something.  I believe I’ll have another beer. “

And the one that had me rolling on the motel bed, “I asked God for a motorcycle but then I realized that’s not how God works.  So I stole a motorcycle and asked for forgiveness.”

Now that one did get a bit of a smirk from my husband and an actual chuckle from my brother in law but they both decided I could turn off the computer at that point.  I guess they weren’t finding my research helpful.

In the end they pushed the bikes out into the sunshine and we waited half an hour.  They started right up on the next try.  That half hour gave me plenty of time to build up my layers (seven in all counting the camisole all the way out to the leather jacket), to wrap a scarf around my throat three times and to double up on my socks. Of course, within three hours I was stripping off layers at every stop until I was finally down to a t-shirt. 

The comments on that chat room site may not have helped a lot with troubleshooting the problem, but they sure raised my spirits.  I was still chuckling a few hundred miles down the road.  In fact, just thinking about it brings a smile to my face today.

It was a great trip.  I loved the changing landscapes, the special time with my husband and my brother in law, the relief for a while from the pressures of home and work, and the freedom of sailing along in the sunshine and the fresh air.  But, in the end I loved that final leg up our driveway, being greeted by the dog who leaped and barked a welcome, the family who raced across the field to give hugs and hear all about the trip, and the sweet tug of home.

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Psalm 84:3

Read Full Post »

Ever had a glimpse of heaven that lasted just a few seconds but stayed with you long after?  On our recent motorcycle trip I did.

It is ironic that it happened the same day as our flat tire (see my previous post).  After the tire replacement we were back on the road and trying to make up time.  It was hard for me to relax. When something scary happens I have a hard time not thinking about how it could have been worse or how it could happen again.  So every little perceived wobble of the bike brought a fresh flush of fear into my stomach and my chest.  I would talk myself down but before long it would flare again.

Those little fears flashed and faded over and over until late afternoon when we arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado and my brother-in-law led us into Monument National Park on what he called the Rim Ride.  Wow!  Miles of red rock canyons with glorious views and lots of pull off points for pictures. It’s one of those places you see on calendars and wonder if it could really be that beautiful.  Believe me, it is.

We took advantage of the pull offs and got off the bikes to walk around, snapping more pictures than we would ever really want. You couldn’t stop though, because every slight rotation of the head brought a new gasp of delight.

At one of the pull offs I walked down a well worn path and stood on a ledge, quietly surveying the landscape.  I was completely alone.  No other tourist was in sight.  I closed my eyes for just a moment and the most amazing thing happened.  I experienced perfect peace.  It came in a silence that was deafening – no birds chirping, no people talking, no motors humming, nothing.  It only lasted for a fraction of a second but I do not remember ever, ever experiencing such a phenomena before.  Perfect silence – perfect peace.  It was followed by the soft whistle of a breeze that lightly stirred the branches of the stubby pine and whispered a message to me that could only have come from the God who assures me He is in control.

For those few seconds I was standing in the palm of His hand and the worries of this world were nonexistent.  It was a beautiful moment I wanted to hold on to forever.  But that’s not the way it works, is it?  Life is what we live every day and perfect peace is what God gives us when He needs to break through. 

Just like I had to take a few steps down that rocky path and stop long enough for Him to give me the gift of silence, real life is a series of challenging events that only a conscious pause and a needy heart can overcome.

I sensed heaven on a red rock ledge in Grand Junction, Colorado.  I climbed back on the bike and my fear flashes were gone, at least for the day.  God always knows what we need.  He always gives it to us when we ask.  He always leaves us with a memory so vivid we have no trouble pulling it out again and again when we need it.  I praise Him for that.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Isaiah 26:3

Read Full Post »

4,000 plus miles, one bee sting, one flat tire, one rainstorm, a few chilly mornings, several days of sunsine, a couple days of heavy smoke and a good dose of God’s creation painted in red rock valleys and on high mountain peaks that reached right up and touched heaven.  That’s what I’ve experienced in the past ten days from the back seat of a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle.  That trip that I wore myself out getting ready for was well worth the effort.

Every day was filled with a new adventure, a changing landscape, laughter, relaxing, some good semi-philosophical discussions and a lot of just silent reflecting.  I love that part of riding – being able to go for hours withiout saying a word.  Getting the chance to just let things roll around in my mind, pondering, analyzing, testing thoughts.  There is such inspiration in the horizon, such beauty in endless miles of fields awaiting harvest.

Vacations are always good, especially when they get you out of your daily pattern and thrust you into new environments where your senses are stimulated, your brain is engaged and you let go of the demands that pull at you on your non-vacation days.  Jesus fully understood the need to get away.  He did it often when the crowds had worn him down and the diciples were zapping his teaching energy.  He also showed us that a vacation doesn’t have to involve weeks of planning and packing or an extended time period.  Sometimes slipping away to a hillside for a few hours on the spur of the moment can be as refreshing as  a five day cruise.  It’s all in the letting go of where you were and embracing where you’ve gone.

So I embraced the rushing rivers that ran beside the highways.  I embraced the golden Aspen trees quivering in the slight breeze.  I embraced the cloudless skies, the distant mountain ranges, the quaint little towns we passed through.   I let go of meaningful, productive conversations and embraced nonsense comments and silly jokes.  I shook off the presure to perform and took on a bit of laziness.  I had conversations with people I didn’t know.  I read the historcal markers whenever I could.  I tried not to check my email and text messages until the very end of the day so I wouldn’t be drawn back into that other world.

I prayed a lot, listened to God a lot, and did the mind-completely-blank thing for miles upon miles.  It was great!

Now I’m back in the thick of work, church, grandkids, meetings, messages and mayhem.  But I refuse to let go of those hard earned and much treasured days.  When I look in the mirrow, I will see my bright red sunburned nose and remember.  As the fall colors here begin to appear I will flash back to the ones in the Colorado Rockies that took my breath away.  I am going to thumb through my pictures again and again.  I’m going to read back through my journal.  I’m going to continue to be thankful for my husband and my brother in law who planned out and navigated the entire route so all I had to do was sit back and enjoy.  And I’m going to look forward to the next opportunity.

In future posts I will share in more detail about parts of our trip but for right now, I just want to get down in black and white that it did happen.  I want indelible proof of the joy and the freedom and fellowship and the love that flowed throughout the journey, wove together into an adventure and a memory, and is now sitting on the front shelf of my heart’s treasure closet.  God is good.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:29

Read Full Post »

On Sunday, August 5th, I will celebrate my 45th wedding anniversary.  I honestly can’t believe it has been 45 years.  I sometimes still feel like the innocent young girl with love blinded eyes that I was in 1967.  Then again, I more often feel like the very experienced, not quite so love blinded wife that I am today.

I remember things I used to think were so darn cute in our early years.  Those same things drive me nuts today.  Things like the fact that he still can’t make a bed to where it doesn’t look like someone is still in it.  Or how he still sneaks drinks right from the carton.  How he leaves a used knife on top of the butter dish in the refrigerator because he doesn’t want to fill up the sink with a bunch of dirty ones.  And there’s his amazing sense of where we are at any given time when traveling (he never gets lost) which is offset by  his 45 year can’t-find-the-dishwasher disability.

We’ve traveled a lot of miles in our 45 years – through fields of new babies, narrow roads of grief, highways of financial stress, up hills strewn with misunderstanding, down valleys of laughter, around corners of angry words and right through intersections of intense love that met moments of ‘who is this man and what am I doing here?”

We have a son we won’t meet until we get to heaven, two daughters and a son who showed us heaven on earth (as well as a little of the other place when they were teens).  We’ve gained a plethora of gifted grandchildren. 

Our house is the same one we moved into on our wedding day, but it is now a home.  We’ve known a veritable kennel of dogs and cats, had a barn full of horses and mules, grown a variety of crops, mowed billions of blades of grass, pulled, poisoned and put up with every weed known to man.

We have more stuff than we could possibly remember or find if we needed it.  (Our children will hate us when we are gone.) 

We have seen so many changes over the years I can’t possibly name them. 

But by God’s grace, there are so many things that haven’t changed.  He still makes me laugh over the dumbest things.  He still makes my heart beat faster when he kisses me.  I still beam with pride over his work ethic, honesty and ability to do anything he puts his mind to.  His heart is still soft.  His mind is still sharp.  His habits are still annoying.

Today I tried to imagine not being married and I found I don’t have the slightest idea what that was like.  “We” is so much more than “I” ever was. 

Am I saying it’s been 45 years of bliss?  Of course not.  Every journey is a lot of work.  The best ones are those where you had milestones when you didn’t think you’d make it but you did.  You don’t feel like you’ve accomplished a worthwhile task if you don’t have some sore muscles afterward. 

After 45 years I’ve figured out that what hasn’t changed so far probably ain’t gonna.  I’ve discovered new things can still happen in an old marriage.  There’s still some of that fresh faced young boy in the man and some of that blushing young girl in the woman. God has blessed us mightily, buoyed us up in some tough times, given some great golden moments, helped us laugh at ourselves and sort the major from the minor.

In retrospect, even the bad has been good in the long run.  Looking ahead I’m just thankful that we are still looking ahead together.

 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Eph 5:31

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »