April Showers bring May flowers
The old paved road was worn and beaten down; neglect had eroded the edges into dry and crumbling mounds. The surrounding hills were sun kissed with blooms of bright yellow against Sapphire blue. The stems that held the fragile bursts were starting to become dry and brittle. It was only a matter of time. I ascended slowly breathing in the goodness of fragrance while exhaling the fragments of me. I arrived, took off my shoes and stepped carefully onto holy ground.
Lord God, I pray you would take my simple words and experiences and use them for your glory. With less of me and more of you, reach into the hearts of your people in order that your grace and mercy would shine.
As a kid, I loved to lie down in childhood meadows looking upward toward the clouds and heaven. The light and fluid air creating a kaleidoscope of texture and brevity carried me away. I was the dreamer and God was the designer for stories I had yet to read.
What knocks you out of your slumber?
Love is patient; love is kind.
There is an intimate conversation that takes place in a relationship. The one with my heavenly father is at times very simplistic. I whisper truths found in little details: never grow weary of doing what is right and true. The actual verse is found in Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Soarin' California. It has since been changed to Soarin' the World but for the handful of times I experienced the ride, it left an imprint of imagery and imagination stamped upon my soul. In a makeshift bucket like air balloon/glider, with feet dangling I was brought through the majesty of our great state. The sights of California seen through the lens of 7-8 minutes: virtual reality gave me wings to fly: skiing mountaintops, traversing through narrow channels of rivers, above lemon orchards, atop the dim lit skyscrapers of metropolis, to the pounding surf of the Pacific Ocean, in a moment, the ingenuity of the minds of people with great childlike animation bring park lovers to the perfume of youth.
One little girl holds tightly the blueprints of her plans - instead she is knocked by surprise by a little boy lost and through love uses her sketches as a propeller toward flight; her designs were used for something far greater - love. In order to shine brightly among other stars and in the process the illumination casts whispers of hope.
If we take a journey ... we are better. If God intends to redeem and restore ... we are better. So what knocks you out of your slumber?
Hard work was the easy part. It is deeply engraved in my DNA. Reinforced through a culture that rewards responsibility and a conscientious demeanor. Praying earnestly through days, months and years, the conversation has deepened through the worship and surrender to a new place of maturity. Where I stand in the humble beating of my own heart and God answered in teeny, tiny ways. The first was the day before Easter ... in unfamiliar territory, I descended the elevator to an underground cement parking structure - cold and sterile, the echo of words resounded as a clanging noise.
As if placed with the gentle breathe of loving hands, I approached the shot-gun position of my car ... there upon the ground was one simple, perfectly formed purple flower waiting as a tender essence of love. A simple answer to a whispered prayer.
The second was only days ago. It was a simple metal medallion found on a cement pavement under afternoon skies of billowy white clouds and blue streaked strokes of silhouetted sunsets. I picked it up and turned it several times over trying to read the words imprinted around an engraving of Mary. Searching for the words through the internet: The Miraculous Medal points me to a Catholic Saint, Catherine Laboure who on November 27th 1830 had a vision of the Virgin Mary. The story lent itself to the replication of this small piece of jewelry with the words: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Simple words etched upon a wondrous prayer; I looked upward toward heaven's call and inward toward the stillness of ponder.
Then today, I received via social media a picture that looked familiar. It was a medallion-type circular image of Madonna and child sent to me from Florence, Italy where the text of friendship stretched miles through time and space as a prelude to the Italian Opera I was about to see. Beloved Giacomo Puccini speaks what few can sing: the story of faith and sacrifice sung in the gentle words of a language that transcends a culture of anonymity into the tender, sweetness of love.
Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh...
My heart was beating. The amphitheater was dark. I entered with open hands - waiting.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1Corinthians 13:7
I have purposely avoided writings about my step-father, not because he didn't set examples of unconditional love but because his love goes deep within my heart. He had numbing and tingling in his fingers. He had sold his beloved remote controlled air gliders because of lack of money; he didn't tell my mother and tried to spare her pain. Only bits and pieces of the story remain but when he went into a required surgery to repair what had been years of living with a slight fracture in his neck, his precarious position still left him with strength beyond his ability.
We joked through the years that no man would replace him. Sitting in recovery vulnerable in a hospital gown and wheelchair, he said to my mother: I've changed my mind. I want you to love again. He lived for another 6 weeks or so and in the comfort of his home, slipped quickly and unexpectedly into heaven's door.
If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Anf if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; loved does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
Experiential in my faith, I wait upon the Lord for the unfolding of the story. I am surrounded by folks in pain. From marriages that are broken, to parents struggling, to young people held captive by a hostile culture. At the same time, reconciling my hard work with creative spirit. Stepping out in obedience, I take a chance in the kingdom of faith, using words to point others to the cross.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Galatians 6:2-5
As I rode my bike along the shores of pounding wind and water, I took a narrow path toward what I thought was home. The shortcut was instead a tiny and narrow path with waist high fields and cliffs where all sorts of creatures lie. I pedaled faster toward common ground. Christ is about redeemed relationships, where the journey is in the deep, rich soil of our souls. The little girl in me hears the lie that somehow If I was smarter or tried harder, I alone could take the pain from another person's shoulders but alas, the only thing I can offer is the cross. We run away from ourselves toward, not emptiness, but into the arms of a good father.
A good father. A father willing to drive all morning with his 5 year old daughter in search of the yellow (Beauty & the Beast) dress. It was the one she had hoped for. Disappointment as the dresses were gone. In exasperation, the father showed his cell phone and the assurance of a dress somewhere lost in the back. Offering to stay all afternoon looking through the shipment of boxes in the back room, a father (and a daughter) wait.
How much greater is the love of our heavenly father. On my knees in prayer, I have earnestly sought the father, son and holy spirit and in the process have witnessed small miracles. Surrounded by people struggling, we offer hope though the cross. God has always been about strong relationships: marriage, family, friends, church, neighbors; we never grow weary in doing what is right and true because we love deeply. We see the fruit of following the narrow path because it is there where we find peace... and our joy is knowing the people we love - (young, old, men, women, sons, daughters) are safe, held within loving hands of a good father.
Words heard: as followers of Christ, we either 1) recently came out of a trial 2) going through a trial, or 3) about to go through a trial - and in the process we stand with empty hands to receive the promise of redemption.
Where is your hope? God has specifically entrusted you and me to be the hands and feet of Christ. In the midst of life, like you, I stand in deep blue water - trusting. Reminded of the cross, bearing my soul because my hope has always been that God could possibly use my words and experiences for good, I offer up a simple prayer of peace for all who read these words.
The bedside manner of Jesus is tender and gentle - open the scriptures for yourself; be real and vulnerable because in those moments of humility, God is faithful to hear your cries. I wait and I hope ... until He calls me home. Lord God, may peace and a quiet breeze blow through this website.
With all my heart, mind, soul and strength,
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.