Monday, January 30, 2012

From Generation to Generation

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
C. S. Lewis ~

I am the daughter of two teachers. Daddy taught Physical Education and coached football and basketball for forty years, and taught young athletes about faith through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Momma taught several grades from preschool through middle school, not to mention countless hours of women's Bible studies. Between the two of them and their teaching careers that spread across two countries, their impact and influence on young lives will only be measurable in heaven. They both teach like most people breathe. It's part of who they are. Even now, though both have retired from the teaching jobs they loved, whether it's with their most fortunate children and grandchildren or people in the community in various venues, they continue to teach and encourage and inspire.

I grew up in a home that valued education . . . a home that saw ordinary moments as opportunities to be curious and learn, to notice God everywhere and see His hand at work . . . a home that believed in becoming all you can be to bring glory and joy to your Heavenly Father.

I bought in . . .

. . . with my whole heart.

Right out of high school, I knew what I wanted to become. I should have done it. But somehow, I allowed one well-intentioned, but discouraging comment along the way to make me question that dream, and I let it go. I am sad to say it was without a fight. There is more to the story of what happened to sideline my college career, but that isn't what I am focused on today. Today is about what is ahead, not what is behind. Today is about the dream that I let go of, but wouldn't let go of me, the one I've been hinting at in recent posts (this one and this one). 

This Tuesday, January 31, 2012, I will once again be a college student, but for the first time in pursuit of my BA in English, with the ultimate goal of becoming the high school English teacher I always wanted to be.

I. can. not. wait!

I don't have time to wait! I'm 30 years late to the party and time is SO of the essence!

Ah, time. Yes, the clock is ticking, but as you will see, it is a very special clock!

I have another teacher in my ancestry. May I introduce you to my great grandmother?

Here she is with her class at Perry Normal College (she is seated in front, second from the right).
At the time these pictures were taken, she was Miss Blanche Lisle, 18 years old, having just graduated from her teacher training at Perry Normal College in Perry, Iowa. It was 1907, and like Anne Shirley of Green Gables fame, my grandma taught in a one-room schoolhouse through cold Iowa winters with all grades under her tutelage.

Now that you've met her, may I draw your attention to the watch she wore on a pin in both pictures? If I have the story correct, the watch was a graduation gift to her from her parents, and she prized it forever afterward.

I inherited that watch from my grandmother, Blanche's daughter, Laurene (Daddy's mother). She wore it as a pendant on a chain, which is how I wear it now.

Although I have been looking at this watch since I was a child, feeling the warm heft of it in my hands as I played with it while sitting on my grandma's lap, it was only recently that I noticed . . . really noticed . . . what is engraved on the back of the watch. Do you see?

It's a schoolhouse! A tiny, perfect schoolhouse that looks like it could have doubled as a church because some of those one room schoolhouses actually did double as church buildings. I can feel the warmth and extraordinary heft of that symbolism and the richness of its meaning on my heart at this moment where I stand ready to begin. Would it seem cliché if I said I felt a little like the bird taking flight as I spread my wings on the way to my dream?

I hold the watch to my ear to hear it sing it's tick-tock song--I wish you could hear it too. It still keeps perfect time, and I love the way it feels to wind it, gently, feeling each click of the stem as it sets the gears in motion. I have always loved this watch and the women who have worn it, but it has taken on a whole new significance as I follow Momma and Daddy, and my Great Grandma in footsteps that I am deeply honored to follow. Thank you for setting the bar so high--I pray I can reflect your example to the students I hope to have someday.

So . . . no, I don't have any more time to wait, and yes, the clock is ticking, but what a truly special clock it is!

"His mercy extends to those who fear him,
 from generation to generation."

Have you ever been afraid it was too late to set a new goal or to dream a new (or old) dream?
Have you ever done it anyway? Tell me your stories!!

Many thanks to my cousin Lee and my Uncle Lowell for their help in getting Grandma's story details and for sending me the extraordinary pictures of Grandma!

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"
Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

22. one grace wrinkled --sun-dried tomatoes
       one grace smoothed--clothes I iron for my family
       one grace unfolded--the magical tale told by Athol Dickson in The Opposite of Art
23. 3 gifts found in Christ
       grace that is "greater than all our sin"
       "peace that passes understanding"
       truth--perfect and absolute
24. 3 things blue
       Hero Husband in navy blue with a lavender tie--beautiful (him, I mean!)
       the palest of Robin's egg blue behind wisps of peach in a dawn-breaking sky
       blue jeans, how we all live so much of life in our blue jeans
25. one grace borrowed --a great line from Justin McRoberts, "Every great work takes the shape of the cross."
       one grace found--calm after an upset (camera tumbled to the pavement, heart stopped til it checked out okay)
       one grace inherited--my love of words
26. a gift before nine am--a long put-off beginning of a hanging-over-my-head-too-long project
       a gift before noon--one drawer organized and big progress made on said project
       a gift after dark--the crispy crunch of tilapia coated in corn meal
27. 3 gifts that might never have been
       this house that is our home-Jehovah Jireh
       this family, the four of us, if I had never come to California
       my computer and camera that make it possible for dreams to come true--gifts from God and Hero Husband
28. 3 graces found in your friends
       great memories
       a heart warmed by love that stands the test of time

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A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why Not?


I can feel my own spine lengthen and stretch in empathic connection with the waves as they rise, and rise, tension building almost to breaking, until they finally arch their backs in defiant determination just before they commit to the forward, crashing, headlong fall into the waiting shoreline. Whatever sand and rocks await them, the water will both surrender and subdue. What is left of the mighty wave when the rocks are done with it? What is sand, but stone pounded fine by crashing waves?

On the same day these giant waves were joyously galloping to shore, risking surrender to subdue, Drummer Boy set out for some beach combing. No matter that his age names him adult, when there is fun to be had on a wide open beach, he is a child at play, imagining all manner of adventures. I think this particular day he was caught somewhere between shipwrecked Robinson Crusoe and an episode of Man vs. Wild where he and Bear Grylls would be in full survival mode, needing to find shelter to stay alive.

The possibilities were endless!
He decided to build something.
He looked.
He planned.
He gathered.

He stuck a stick in the sand . . .

. . . and then another.

He propped and placed and rearranged.
He persevered.

He wove his ideas together and made them real.

He sat down inside his imagination.
He enjoyed the shelter his hard work afforded.
He smiled the smile of satisfaction.
He took his rest after the accomplishment.

Some people look at the world around them and think, "I couldn't possibly."

Some people look at the same world and think, "Why not?"

"For nothing is impossible with God."
Luke 1:37 NLT

There is such excitement in the air! I am feeling that same rising tension of the waves as I am about to arch my back and commit to landing on the shore to both surrender and subdue! Remember that dream I hinted at in my One Word post? This dream, the one I let go of, but wouldn't let go of me, well, it's almost time!

Just at this same moment, my Heavenly Father is surrounding me with people and stories and illustrations that inspire me as I follow Him into the "impossible."

I am so inspired by Angela Zhang, the girl in this video, who looked at a problem that seems pretty impossible and blithely said, "Why not?" I am inspired by two young friends, a brother and sister, who look at the world and see no barriers! I am inspired by Drummer Boy who builds shelters out of sticks and a recording studio out of his dreams! I am inspired by She So Sweet who sets goals and then sets her jaw to make sure she reaches them! I am inspired by my Hero Husband who has vision as big as all outdoors, and the passion to make the vision a reality, all while inspiring everyone he meets!!

I am inspired by Jesus, the One who calls me friend. He saw a world stuck in a life of impossible and He threw Himself and everything He had into coming to our rescue. He surrendered to the limitations of a human body and the pain of the cross so He could subdue sin and death. And then, with salvation won for all who would believe in Him, He sat down at the right hand of His Father, mission accomplished. Oh!

May I just whisper this? I want to inspire. I don't whisper out of self-doubting fear, but in awe, in reverent, holy awe.

It is a great work to inspire others.

I recently heard singer/songwriter,
Justin McRoberts, say that "every great work takes the shape of the cross." The shape of the cross is the way of sacrifice, of laying down self, of surrender, of grinding toil and dogged determination and wrung out sweat and tears . . . the shape of the cross is the way of LOVE.  Know what else? The shape of the cross is the shape of victory! It is the way of the wave, throwing itself on the rocks, flowing into all the cracks and crevasses and jagged places, wearing rough edges smooth in the crashing.

Even knowing all that it will cost, I still want to inspire.
I want to surrender myself to the challenge and subdue the obstacles through perseverance.
I want the joy of getting to sit down inside my imagination.

Knowing God laughs at the word impossible,
I choose to say, "Why not?"

Is there something on your heart you've been calling impossible?
Who inspires you?


A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Few Words from the Hinterlands

I can hear the telltale clanking.

The monkey wrench has been thrown into the machinery again.

The gears are grinding to a halt, and the flow of words has stopped. I keep anxiously watching like a weary traveler waiting at an empty baggage claim for bags that do not come. I wish I could see down the chute and open everything up to fix the problem.

I wish it was as easy to focus my thoughts as it is to focus my camera.

I flit and flutter, scanning my mind for an idea, just one good idea, to perch upon. 

Where, oh where are the words hiding? Why won't they show themselves? What have I done to chase them away, and what can I do to bring them back? Are they alive and green somewhere under the frosty cold?

What if I've already written everything I know? What if there are no more good ideas? What if nothing I say is original or creative or special? What if the keys have gone silent for the last time?

Wistful wishes, wretched what if's, mixed up images, where's, why's and what can I do's--is that all I've got?  Is that the best I can do?

One more time I am reminded of my limitations, of the formless, nameless, blank landscape at the outer reaches of me. I hate this place, but when I visit these hinterlands, I discover afresh how lost I would be without the One who is strong in my weakness. And so, I write anyway, haltingly, with grinding gears and clanking metal, offering up what words I can pin down, praying that in the obedience will come the naming.

"Light is sown for the righteous,
And for the upright of heart -- joy."

The hope of the writer springs eternal . . . at least I think it does. The light is there for me to reap, the joy is there for me to find and the words will come again. God loves words. Surely He must love my loving words, my play and work in words, and even more, my passion for His words. This is not my best post, but neither will it be my last. I have not had my last drop of inspiration, no matter what my what if's wonder.

What do you learn from bouts with writer's block?
How do you break free when you're in the clutches of it?

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"
Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along? I dare ya!!


15. one thing you wore--the beautiful cross Hero Husband gave me so many years ago--the one I never take off
       one thing you gave away--my time 
       one thing you shared--playoff football with Hero Husband--I never get tired of sharing this love with him
16. 3 ways you witnessed happiness today
       First sip of morning coffee
       Drummer Boy happy to have figured out his computer trouble
       Hero Husband calling to tell me how he had resolved an urgent problem
17. one gift that you made laugh--She So Sweet's pretend scowly-face complete with dimples
        one gift that made you pray--the morning news--so much in the world that needs God's touch
        one gift that made you quiet--the expectant hush of solitude
18. 3 gifts from God’s Word
        " . . . His love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34
        " . . . But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." 1 John 3:2
       "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; " Psalm 91:11
19. a grace in the kitchen--coordinated efforts
      a grace in the weather--rain! Finally!! We need it desperately!!
      a grace that might never have been--lunch with a good friend
20. 3 gifts you saw only when you got close-up
       creamy white nourishment of grains of rice
       90% off on some great earbuds
       care tag on a sweater that said "Tumble Dry Low" when I didn't have time for line drying
21. one thing in the sky--rain clouds bringing relief to the dry, dry earth
       one thing from your memory--the dog I saw yesterday, head out the window of a truck, nose pointed skyward in the rain
       one thing that’s ugly-beautiful--a messy kitchen that shows we have more than enough to eat

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A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Father Who Delights

There are few things as toxic to a relationship as disapproval.

Husbands and wives, parents and children, pastors and congregations, employers and employees, teachers and students and among friends--disapproval does damage and leaves wounds that rarely heal on their own.  Stories abound of grown men and women who find themselves crippled in their adult lives because on some level, they are still trying to win the approval of fault-finding, never-satisfied parents, sometimes years, even decades after those parents have been laid to rest.

Spirits wither and waste under the harsh, hot glare of disapproval and I pray that as a fallible, imperfect parent, I would not fall into communicating in ways that feel like criticism and disapproval to my children.

Human disapproval is bad enough.  What about disapproval from God?  Isn't He always stern and endlessly disapproving, looking with disdain and disgust down a long nose and a longer finger, always pointing out our failure?

I hope you don't really believe that!!  I sure don't, but isn't that the way He's characterized by the world, and sadly sometimes by the church?

Even if we have studied Scripture and intellectually know better, sometimes we inherently cannot fathom His grace and fall into thinking these fearful things of Him.  Remember the wicked servant who was entrusted with one talent by his master?  Do you remember the reason he gave for burying the talent instead of investing it to multiply his master's money?
"‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man . . . So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’"  Matthew 25:24-25 NIV1984
The funny thing is, it was a complete mis-characterization and misunderstanding of the character of the master that led the servant to live in fear.  The master proved himself to be generous in delegating responsibility to those whom He trusted, quick to give credit where credit was due and honorable in rewarding the efforts of his servants.  He was not the "hard man" the servant accused him of being.  Despite the kind of man the master really was, the servant's projection onto his master of a mean-spirited, hard-hearted, disapproving character caused the servant to be like an intimidated athlete who plays to avoid losing instead of playing to win. It turned out to be an extremely costly mistake and his loss was incalculable.

Relationally speaking, delight is directly across the color wheel from disapproval.  Where disapproval leaves wounds, delight binds them up.  Where disapproval creates distance, delight invites closeness.  Where disapproval poisons communication, delight creates safety.  Just ask the two servants who received from their master the enthusiastic, " ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ " Matthew 25:23 ESV

"The LORD directs the steps of the godly. 
He delights in every detail of their lives."

Can we really believe that?  WILL we?
It's true.
He means it.

Like Hero Husband dancing with She So Sweet, the daughter he adores, our Heavenly Father dances with each of us.  It is with eyes warm and filled with delight that He looks at us, holding us close to His heart, proud of us and all He is making us to be.  We are His GOOD creations, and new creatures in the freedom won by Christ, His Son.  Jesus bore all our deserved disapproval from His Father and left in its place God's unbounded joy and delight in calling us His very own.

I know what you're thinking.  What about sin?  What about God's correction?  What about when I'm wrong and blowing it?

Even in His correction of us when we get out of step with Him, His heart's desire is only to resume the dance.  If we won't follow His lead, the joy in the dance is lost for both of us, so He corrects, shows us how to get back in time with Him and then whirls us around the dance floor, laughing and loving us right out loud.  His delighted Father's heart toward us never leaves!

"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."

Even when our behavior displeases Him, it is not because He disapproves of US, it's because He counts as enemy anything that we allow to get in the way of His best for us--unending, uninterrupted communion with Him.  THAT is a BIG difference.

And so, there are few things as nourishing to a relationship as delight.

God. Delights. In you!

Is it easy or hard for you to imagine God's delight in you?
What difference does it make to KNOW it's true?

If you have somehow found your way here and you have never met the Father God I write about and you would like to have this kind of relationship with Him, please don't hesitate to email me at fridaydreamer[at]fridaydreaming[dot]com, and I would be privileged to introduce you to the One who longs to delight in you!


Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Starting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

9. a gift in your hand--my Nikon D70 
    a gift you walked by--the now clean stairs I finally made it a point to vacuum 
    a gift you sat with--She So Sweet after school, hearing about her day, laughing
I O. a gift that’s sour--the lemon in my homemade hummus, so tart and tangy
       a gift that’s sweet--a gingery dinner
       a gift that’s Just. Right.--a golden retriever fetching a big stick and watching him roll in the grass for pure joy
I I . 3 yellow things that strike you as fresh mercy
      bowl full of bananas
      highlighter ink accenting my schoolwork
      She So Sweet in her lemon yellow sweater, lighting up the room before the sun wakes up
12. something above you--a bright white morning moon streaming through She So Sweet's window
       something below you--the four fancy wheels, leather comfort, seat warmer and great music in my rolling home-away-from home
       something beside you--My tripod
13. 3 sounds you hear
      Steel guitar
      Drummer Boy's music on my Ipod
      The resonance of Hero Husband's voice
14. 3 ways you glimpsed the startling grace of God
      Children we can trust
      Patience where I didn't expect to see it
      Being the object of God's delight

Better late than never I hope, Bonnie! =)
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A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Monday, January 9, 2012

No Eye Has Seen

Someday I will have read everything ever written by C. S. Lewis.  I am woefully behind on the way to achieving this goal, despite owning a whole shelf full of his books, but it's a work in progress.  However, maybe knowing this will help you understand why my interest was especially sparked by something our pastor shared yesterday.

In a sermon about integrity, focused particularly on marriage, he referred to an idea taught by C. S. Lewis that if we could see now what glorious beings believers will become in heaven, we might be tempted to worship them.

With this idea in view, the pastor encouraged us to appreciate the privilege we have of watching, up close, the becoming of our spouses and children. He further encouraged us to be filled with grace toward them as we keep in mind that they are works in progress on the way to future glories unimagined.

"However, as it is written:
   'No eye has seen,
   no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
   what God has prepared for those who love him'—"

I always assumed this verse was referring only to the wonders of heaven.

But what if it also speaks of us?

What if this never before seen, never heard, never conceived amazing-ness God has prepared is also the shining, transcendent glory of His beloved people, finally, fully transformed?

If we knew nothing of the coming butterfly, a caterpillar would just be a fancy worm.  Because we know the glorious creature a caterpillar becomes, we treat them with care, watch them with fascination and protect them from harm.  I want to increasingly treat people (even the person in the mirror) like caterpillars because of the butterflies I know they are becoming.

We who have the joy and promise that come with believing in the Name of Jesus, have this future glory ahead of us to give us hope for our everyday.  May those who don't know Him yet see something in us that hints at what we are becoming and be drawn to Him in us.
As you think about the future transformation believers are promised, how might it affect your relationships . . . in your family . . . in your church . . . in the world? 

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Starting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

1 . 3 things about yourself you are grateful for--
      Being an occasional "silly heart"
      The mind God has given me
       The way I feel hard-wired to notice beauty
2. a gift outside--Scrunchy leaves
    a gift inside--My computer where I can do so many wonderful things
    a gift on a plate--Tacos made with love by Hero Husband
3. 3 lines you overheard that were graces--
      "I love you Sissy."
     "I love you too Brother."
     "You've got what it takes!"
4. one gift old--Great Grandma Fagen's pendant watch, it's steady tick-tock song
    one gift new--Exercise equipment to help me reach my goals
    one gift blue--New jeans!
5. something you’re reading--The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson
    something  you’re making --A commitment to challenge myself
    something you’re seeing--Possibilities!
6. one thing in your bag--Books to read
    one thing in your fridge--Plenty
    one thing in your heart--Eagerness
7. 3 graces from people you love--
     When Hero Husband calls to tell me he's read my blog and is excited to discuss my ideas with me!
     Drummer Boy handing the reins to God and God handing Him the job he thought he had no chance to get!!
     She So Sweet thinking outside the box and the way she inspires me with her competitive toughness
8. light that caught you --the gloss and satin-ribbon shine of whipped honey on my English muffin
    a reflection that surprised you--me, riding up the escalator, coming face to face with my reflection and not being (overly) critical of it
    a shadow that fell lovely--a bright red leaf on grey cobblestones, casting a long shadow in the early light

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A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
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