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Showing posts from 2009

Influence

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It has been a long while since I have posted anything here. I have been busy completing three years toward my B.A. in English and my senior year is underway. My current class (Creative Writing) has finally given me the space to take off the tight harness of academic writing rules, and it feels SO GOOD!! After reading my first assignment, Mom and Daddy gave it their thumbs up and suggested I make it a blog post, so here it is. It is my story and their story. It's a little longer than my usual posts, but as with everything I have ever posted here, I pray it encourages you to run "up the sunbeam to the sun" (C. S. Lewis).


"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV


I sat above them on the stairs. Looking down through the window-like openings in the partition between the living room and the stairway, I listened to the basketball players, football players, baseball players, wrestlers, track athletes, both the lettermen and the also-…

Year in the Rear View

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-Time.Impossible to pin down . . . impossible to hold back . . . impossible to hurry . . . impossible to keep . . . impossible to ever have enough. I can't decide whether to be happy to see 2009 flow away or to savor the last few drops of it--so I choose both. That seems to be the way when I'm grappling with mixed emotions. It is seldom a one-or-the-other conclusion. Today I skimmed through the entries of this year's prayer journal where I have poured out my heart to the God who can handle whatever I bring Him. While it is by no means complete, I read with amazement some of my most intense in-the-moment processing of life through 2009, including the ugly, scary monsters in my closet, the ravenous grizzly bears under my bed, and the just plain old ugly things in my heart I had to show my Father. Even more than these, I got to read the answered prayers, the good and perfect gifts, the unexpected Godlight He shone into my days, an…

Life, the Way God Makes It

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--Beloved recipes, generations old, passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter to great granddaughter. Christmas makes me run to my old rusty, greasy recipe box to find the stained and spattered cards that hold the treasured family recipes for holiday favorites like scalloped corn, the brownies there are never enough of, and Christmas morning coffee cake. The flavors of home are inextricably intertwined with the feeling of being at home with the people I love most in the world. A piece of coffee cake, the way my mom makes it, can make the miles between us feel fewer and smaller and bring home-love closer. That means a lot to this grown-up girl who has been too many years without going home for Christmas. It's more than just a piece of cake, it's a beloved tradition that reminds me who I am and where I come from. All this cooking and baking during the last few weeks has more than once brought to mind a story I read somewhere about a little boy who was surprised …

Generosity Beyond Measure

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--Imagine an edict has gone out from Heaven, putting humankind in charge of determining who is going to receive eternal life. How do you think people would go about it?For a prize so great to be given out, people might hold a contest of some kind, like a beauty pageant or a football game, a singing competition or tennis match. People would have to prove they were the best at something, wouldn't they? There would surely be forms to fill out . . . lots and lots of forms and disclaimers and legal mumbo jumbo--just to make sure it was all handled fairly of course.Or maybe the powers that be would decide to create a difficult quest of some kind and only the people who successfully completed the quest would qualify for eternal life, yeah, that's probably how they'd do it. Imagine the rules that would have to be followed and the entry fees that would have to be paid. I'm guessing there would be major hoops to be jumped through and hurdles to be cleared for anyone who fan…

All He Ever Wanted

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-- "'Dear Santa Claus,' it began. 'You know I have never written. I could never think of anything I needed or wanted for Christmas. But this year I had a different idea. What do you wish for Christmas Santa? You always answer children's wishes, but what about your own? Isn't there one thing in the world that you wish for but do not have? If you will post a letter back to me, I will do all that I can to bring your dream to life. Respectfully, Your friend, Christopher C.'"

In Brittany Ryan's enchanting novel, The Legend of Holly Claus, this child's letter set in motion an amazing adventure of love and sacrifice . . . and redemption.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "What do you want for Christmas?" It's a familiar question this time of year. Lots of you are probably way ahead of me and have your shopping done already. Whether you're wrapping the presents you've bought, or still wracking your brain to find that certain somet…

Incarnation, Then and Now

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-- There is something about Christmas that flat-out refuses to be simple. It just will come with cramped quarters, groans and struggle, hard work and extreme inconvenience--Mary knew all about it, didn't she? Her life, so beautifully planned, suddenly and monumentally interrupted by none other than God Almighty! The angel He sent, Gabriel, told Mary she was favored among all women, and had been chosen to bear God's only Son. Her still innocent child's heart was so trusting, so willing to accept the honor and the profound responsibility of parenting the great I AM. Her faith astounds. "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."Luke 1:38 NIV As if she and Joseph didn't have enough to deal with, what with trying to explain the baby before the wedding and all, suddenly Caesar Augustus had his brilliant idea to call for a census. Not only that, but they had to travel all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem righ…

Just This, Just Now

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Green grass, fresh, dewy, tender, brand new green grass grows outside the window--the kind my horse would have gone crazy for.

A backdrop for Christmas?

Groan . . .I would so prefer a deep, powdery, soft-as-eider-down, foot-thick blanket of snow outside my window. I long for the kind of snow that comes floating down like big lazy feathers, silently, with no trace of wind. The kind of snow that makes quiet voices sound sweetly amplified . . . the kind that makes the air feel warmer, softer than you think it should . . . the kind you simply must go for a walk in, especially after dark, when it really isn't dark at all because the snow makes everything glow. Yes, that is what I would prefer.

But, it's awfully green outside my California window.

I've been in California a long time now--longer than both my snow-blessed homes combined. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but still it's hard for me. There is a gap between what I would prefer and what I get.

Ever…

Traditions and Tiny Obsessions

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--Every year since My Tony and I got married, we have bought a new Christmas ornament . Most of them commemorate some event during the year (like 9/11), some family joke or shared experience that we want to remember. My favorite part of decorating (which I haven't even started yet) is putting the now large collection of ornaments on the tree. Now, my kids will tell you, this wasn't always so much fun . . . FOR THEM. I used to have this THING. You know, a THING, a hangup, an obsession. I was a teeny bit crazed about the necessity (in my mind) to put the ornaments on the tree, one by one, in chronological order. To be fair (and I KNOW you want to be fair) I started this FROM THE BEGINNING when there was only one ornament, then two, then three, and so on. However, by the time my kids were 12 and 7 and each of them had personal ornaments too and the number had grown to more than 25 ornaments, my little ritual had outgrown itself.It no longer served a good purpose.It had …

Deep Faith and Old Hymns

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I went to visit my dear friend Fran yesterday. Late in her 80's now, she lives with her son and his family and she is slowly slipping away. She doesn't really know me anymore, and she doesn't remember 30 seconds after I leave that I've been there, but I go as often as I can because she went so far out of her way so many times for me.

Fran, or "Franacious" as we lovingly called her "back in the day" was the librarian at the Bible college I attended. She started that library from the ground up and she painstakingly logged in every book, and spent countless hours lugging boxes and shifting shelves to put a proper library together for the Bible college students that had descended upon her church.

She was an excellent librarian, yes, but she was so much more--
She was a kind of surrogate grandmother to anyone who needed one.
She asked questions and listened like she really wanted to know . . . because she did.
She comforted all manner of homesickness,…

Find the Perfect Gift

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-- Up and down . . .round and round . . . shoppers search and sift. Hustle, hurry . . . go, go, go . . . find the perfect gift! In all the scurrying activity of Christmas shopping, it's so easy to forget what it's all about. It's so easy to get stressed and grumpy, strained and out of sorts. Your heart is in the right place, but if you're at all like me, before it's all done, your head is throbbing! I pray for each of us this Christmas that we will not do one single solitary thing that isn't a pure outflow of joy and celebration and gratitude for our great Giver-God who has already given the absolute perfect Gift that could ever be given in His Son Jesus. Every gift we ever give should be because He gave. Every song we ever sing should be because He lives. Every light on every house glows the Light of the World. Every tree we ever decorate whispers both rough-hewn manger and old rugged cross. I pray that we won't get stuck on cascading escala…

What Do You See?

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--Take a look at this picture (click on it to open a larger version in another window)--what do you see? Blue sky? Trees? Bull rushes?Well, yes . . . and no.That is what it looks like, right? So why am I giving you the impression that maybe you shouldn't trust what you see?As the photographer, I may know a little something about this picture that could change your perception of the whole scene. In fact, I do! Have I digitally changed this picture in some way? Not at all--the pixels are completely unaltered from the day I took the picture. So what do I know that you don't know (maybe some of you have picked up on it)?The picture above is upside down. The blue sky, trees and bull rushes are mere reflections of the real things.Here is the original in it's right-side up presentation:The lives we live are often like this picture--we think we know what we're looking at, we think we recognize the scene in front of us. Then, based on our perceptions of what is and w…

Echoes from the Mayflower

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--Listen! Can you hear them? Can you hear the echoes of that very first Thanksgiving feast? In the hustle bustle of the kitchen with clanking pans and sizzling turkeys, listen close and you'll hear the distant sounds of women cooking over open fires, turning the spit for hours as the meat grew more fragrant and delicious by each turn. I wonder if they had any idea that we would still be following their lead and continuing their tradition 388 years later. Their hearts must have been so full as they reflected on all God had brought them through. They must have been keenly aware of missing people from home, and of the loss of friends and family who had started out with them, but who had not survived this far. They must have held each other that much more closely in this celebration of harvest and life, hope and freedom, all out of their gratitude to Almighty God who held them together. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Tracing . . . tracing . . . tracing . . . generation upon generat…

Love Letters

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--Love letters are the stuff of story books, fairy tales, movies and songs. Kept and treasured for years, worn with frequent handling, love letters are more precious to the loved one than gold or jewels or riches. Read and reread, pored over and memorized, love letters pour love from one heart to another.I find love letters from God all the time! He has this endearing habit of designing hearts into His creation, and then He waits and watches to see if I'll find them . . . and notice. Here are a couple of the recent love letters I've found:There is another love letter that is my favorite one of all. This one is filled with so much love it is sixty-six books long, detailing a love like no other, and written just for me . . . and you . . . and anyone willing to be loved. This love letter is the passionate expression of a completely sacrificial, nothing-held-back, all or nothing, utterly incomprehensible love to outshine all loves! This letter lays bare the heart of the greatest o…

Playing For Keeps

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--My Mama-heart trembles with questions that toss and jumble. I try so hard to make sense of all the conflicting, confounding concerns for my children that clamor for my attention. Which concern takes precedence? Which need is most important? In a world runaway with its own insanity, how do I as a mom, how do we as parents help our kids navigate the mine-fields of their generation's culture wars and the enemy who would love to derail them? It feels like the movie scene that gave me nightmares as a little girl. Snow White, fleeing from the wicked Queen's murderous plot, runs through the creepy dark forest with the tree branches grabbing and grasping at her cloak with evil intent. That is sometimes how I see the world my children go into every day when they walk out our door. Sex, drugs, alcohol, and violence are everywhere from TV to the school yard, packaged in profanity and peer-pressure. Not only that, but ideas, influences, attitudes and ideologies come at them fro…

God Got There First!

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-- "For he will command his angels concerning youto guard you in all your ways; "Psalm 91:11 NIV We would surely be amazed if we knew all the near misses we have with calamity. Once in awhile, sometimes twice in two days, we get a glimpse of the results of the unseen efforts of God and His angels to protect and guard us through the hazards of this life. Last Wednesday night, my mom in Canada was at her weekly Bible study with friends, expected home around 9:15. My daddy was happily watching a Gaither Homecoming video, and assumed the noise he heard outside about that time was the sound of her car driving up the long gravel driveway. He anticipated she would be in soon, but when she didn't come in the house, he went out to see what was keeping her. To his surprise, she wasn't even home yet. And then he saw it! His truck was missing!! As he looked around for clues, my mom drove up, much later than she ordinarily would be getting home. As we talked about those …

Greater Love Remembered

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-- Words are such small containers for the profound thoughts that come today in remembrance. Whether by choice or by necessity, those who have answered the call of a country's battle cry and a desperate world in trouble are to be honored above all. They who . . .--do what must be done, ---sacrifice their own comfort, ----their right to their own path, -----their own dreams, ------time with their own families . . . they stand head and shoulders above the rest of us on whose behalf they fight. They sacrifice their own way so we can . . . --do what we want to do, ---live with the comforts of home, ----pursue our own path, -----dream our own dreams ------love our families up close without interruption . . . we look up to them as the best among us. There is not a reward we could ever bestow on all the brave men and women who fight for our freedom that would be great enough--that's not why they fight anyway. The very best way we can reward them is by showing our extreme g…