Thursday, November 9, 2017

Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

I’ve often said that waiting for something isn’t hard for me. It’s not that I’m patient exactly but I find things to occupy my time while I’m waiting. Change is a different ball of wax. In spite of my opposition to it though, that ball of wax will drip. In a way I want this upcoming change to happen NOW so we can be done with it, and I have reason for that, but I also have mixed feelings about it. 

After being laid off from the job my hubby’s had since mid-2013, he accepted employment with another company. Oh, so full of gratitude that God provided this new job within four weeks! The catch is that the office he will work out of is about 115 miles away. Doesn’t seem like far but when it’s in the Seattle area with its famous freeways, where you’re free to sit in traffic for hours on end, a daily commute is out of the question.

Yep, the change I’m talking about is another move for my hubby and me.

Here’s where my mixed feelings arise. I’ve loved being back in the county where I was raised. Reacquainting myself with familiar territory, seeing friends from childhood, feasting my eyes on nature-rich scenes, frequent family get-togethers (especially with my sister), it’s all been so good. The tears come pretty readily when thoughts arise of not having easy and quick access to it. 

BUT circumstances are such that the move will not happen right away. In the interim, he is staying with friends of ours close to his new place of employment during the week, and coming home on weekends. 

Now, I’ve often experienced being on my own for days and weeks and months in previous scenarios involving my husband’s work situations. And it works out okay. I’d rather have him home every night but a paycheck coming in regularly is not a bad thing. But folks, I confess I’m becoming eager to have both. This week I’ve had a little taste of it. I’m spending the week with our friends too! 

With rain pattering on my umbrella this morning I explored the yard around their home, letting my eyes be refreshed by the lines of their landscaping, which, yes, includes a slide.

Caught a shot or two of chickadees at the feeder.

A glimpse of a bear peeking over the patio fence. 

As I meandered I mused on what I read earlier in the day in my quiet time. “When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.” (Psalm 84:6 NLT) According to the preceding verse, they are those who receive strength from the Lord, having their minds set on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I am on a journey to the place God has chosen for me, and my husband, where we will be together. On the way there may be a few tears pattering—with change, that’s to be expected. Aaaah, refreshing springs and the blessings that sprout from autumn rains are part of the change too.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wasting Away in Blackberries

The old farm where I grew up is in the process of being destroyed organically. My dad sold it thirty-plus years ago and since then, it has become unrecognizable. Blackberry vines surround every structure and wherever there’s an opening the vines have snaked inside, digging in their thorns and pulling down roofs and decimating walls. Little of the barn buildings can be seen and I expect by next year blackberry vines will fully encase the house. Who knows why the present owner has allowed this destruction but it hurts my heart to see this once beautiful piece of property looking like Sleeping Beauty’s castle before the prince came to rescue her.
Renovating isn’t even at option at this point. If ever I were able to buy back this land, we would have to bring in a bulldozer and completely level it before we could restore it. 

A writing exercise sent me to this verse: The LORD determined to tear down the wall around the Daughter of Zion. He stretched out a measuring line and did not withhold his hand from destroying. He made ramparts and walls lament; together they wasted away.” (Lamentations 2:8 NLT) As sad as it looks and for various reasons according to further study, God made the choice to let Israel, the Daughter of Zion, be destroyed. Whether it was with blackberry vines or some other vegetation, or at the hands of sword-wielding warriors, the end came. He still has a plan for full restoration that He is working on. He has measured it all out and knows exactly how far things must go. Clearly grieving over loss is an expected part of the process. 

I grieve over losing things, from certain places I enjoyed living in, to those I love making less than best choices or at least, contrary to my beliefs, to friendships that soured and died, to my own youthfulness passing by. I look around to see where God put His measuring line in hopes the mark He placed for the boundary is in sight. Knowing that God uses a measuring tape reassures me that there will come a time of restoration. When I understand that tearing down a city allows a new one to be built, hope surges up and the pain in my heart ebbs. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Never Too Late, Never Too Old

A devotional I shared with my writing group today.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT)

As writers, some of us feel we have nothing significant enough to express. Others of us think it might be too late to develop our skills, that we’re too old. Maybe our attitude is that there are already so many writers, who do we think we are jumping onto the page. 

From the time I was about twelve years old, in addition to writing, I’ve had the desire to interpret and share my world through a camera’s lens. Never had anything fancy in the way of photographic equipment—instamatics back in the day when we used rolls of film, followed by cartridges. Cameras were always point-and-shoot types with film, and the same now with digital. Except for the last couple of years I’ve mostly used my iPhone6. Someday I’d like to have the opportunity to get acquainted with cameras that have adjustable lenses and learn how to use them. But I’ve been told, regardless of the equipment, that it’s your own eye that is responsible for a great photograph. 

In photography, as well as in life, sometimes it takes looking at things from a different perspective. With camera in hand, it might require getting down on your knees, or squatting rather unbecomingly. I’ve even resorted to holding my iPhone low to the ground and without even looking at what’s on the screen, snapping away and hoping for the best. Lots of shots get deposited in the trash; thankfully no film gets ruined anymore. But there are times when a photo that I’ve captured in that way ends up capturing me when I see it later uploaded onto my computer screen. One such recent photo makes me think of our lovely group of women who aspire to write. 

I don’t know what the flowers are called but they grow in wild crowds on the spit at Semiahmoo at this time of year. As my husband and I meandered along the path, the sun, a hazy blaze on the western horizon, set up its last hoorah for the day with those flowers. Quarter-sized centers of bristly brown, surrounded by candy-corn petals, they looked good enough to eat. Grabbing the sun’s setting rays, they lit themselves up, dancing in the breeze. They didn’t compare themselves with each other, they didn’t consider it too late in the day to splash their beauty across their world, and though some were losing their petals, they waved just as energetically as their fully-petaled companions. 

It’s not too late in the day for us. I know Hebrews 12:1 refers to pursuing our faith-walk but could we apply the principle? Isn’t our writing part of our faith-walk? Remember when the sun is setting here, it’s rising somewhere else. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Much-Needed Prescription

With four children, the oldest age six, the twins age four, and the baby not quite a year old, it was no wonder the mom felt frazzled, and she looked it too. Holding her youngest on her lap while the pediatrician checked the baby’s ears and listened to her heart, the mom allowed herself to relax a little in the chair. A sigh, one of those involuntary sighs that she was famous for, chose that moment to escape. The doctor scooted his wheeled stool across the room to his desk, and picked up his prescription pad. He smiled at the mom. “Baby is doing fine. But I’m going to write a prescription for you, Mom.” He scribbled a few lines and then handed her the slip of paper. She read it over.

“Are you serious?” she said.

“Yes,” was the smiling and emphatic reply.

The prescription read: “One weekend with [your husband] and without children at my vacation cabin on Lummi Island.” 

In the four years that her kids had been under this doctor’s care, she’d seen his kindness, patience, compassion, and gentleness with them, as well as his skill as a physician, but to be the recipient of his generosity and obvious concern for her mental well-being brought tears of gratitude. She felt that the weekend away did much to help her hang onto her sanity. A move to another state shortly after meant a new pediatrician but she always thought of him as the best one her kids ever had.

Thirty-some years later she read on Facebook that a certain Noemi Ban, holocaust survivor, would be giving a lecture at Western Washington University about her experiences. Always interested in knowing more about this, she signed up to attend, along with her sister. She pondered the woman’s last name. It was the same as that of the wonderful pediatrician who cared for her children. Could they be related? 

If you haven’t already guessed, I was that frazzled mom. It was this past week that I went to the lecture. And there was the pediatrician in the front row proudly watching his mother, at the age of 94, talking about having hope and love, instead of hate, even after suffering so dreadfully at Auschwitz. I spoke with Dr. Ban for a few minutes during intermission. I said, “You must be so proud of your mom!” He smiled and admitted he was. I went on to express my gratitude for his care of my children, and of me with such an unusual prescription. He said he recalled that occasion and how my husband had done a little carpentry work for him on the cabin to help defray our medical expenses with him as well. He asked about my kids. Then giving me a hug, he thanked me for connecting with him that evening. 
My sweeties, 1984

Hearing and reading Noemi Ban’s story (Sharing is Healing, a Holocaust Survivor’s Story with Ray Wolpow), I realize that it was she who influenced her son to be the kind and generous man who took a personal interest in his young patients and their parents. She raised her children to love life and to overcome hatred, a much-needed prescription in our world. I know my children were just a few out of the hundreds who were benefitted in part by this one woman. I feel blessed to have heard her say, “Life is for living. I love life!” 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

It's All Playing!

Playing in the leaves and the pumpkins, playing with words, playing with photos, it's all playing! I'm no poet but when a prompt for Haiku showed up in my writing group, it called forth some words that may or may not be considered poetry but it appealed to my desire to play. Take a moment, dear reader, and play with me. Be refreshed.

With edges curling
Crisping to red and yellow
A lone leaf resting

Once shady partners
Simmered in sun, blown in breeze
Task complete, they fall

Yes to the pumpkin!
Forget past seasons’ neglect
And doom of compost

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Ladybug Speaks

Nobody notices the wallflower. You know, the quiet, shy person sitting on the sidelines, alone, not drawn into conversation or even approached in search of a listening ear. Yep, I’ve been a wallflower; occasionally I still am, by choice thinking erroneously that my company isn’t wanted anyway. 

I’ve noticed lately that God enjoys initiating conversations with me. Not that I’ve had the burning bush experience or instructions to put on a stone tablet kind of thing. Actually, according to Chris Tiegreen in the Hearing His Voice devotional book as he referenced Hebrews 8:6 (He is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises), we’ve got it way better than dear Moses in the communicating with God department. 

It may be a mysterious sounding concept but having the Holy Spirit as a constant presence, I’m increasingly aware that God welcomes interaction with me. And He usually starts the dialogue. He doesn’t limit Himself to one mode of expression. I think I have a favorite though. Well, a close second after the Bible. He catches my eye and my ear with the tiniest details in His creation, His home away from home. 

An answer to my unspoken, unexplored questions came in red with tiny black dots.
All alone on a leaf, quivering in the breeze.

Life’s breezes have me all a-quiver, with some uncertainties and unknowns as well as exciting potential. A ladybug spoke God’s message to me, “Hold on to the living vine. He won’t let you fall. And He makes all things beautiful in the midst of it.”

Monday, July 25, 2016

Garden of Desires

“Hope that is put off makes the heart sick, but a desire that comes into being is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NLT) 

I don’t have green thumbs and I have no desire to dig in the dirt. But I love to look at what others have planted and brought to bloom.   

There are things other than plants that I have great longings for, where growth and ripening seem to be a far off dream. Will the branches of those trees ever be covered with leaves? Do my longings have anything to do with what God longs for? What are His yearnings? 

I believe the yearnings and desires of my heart are shaped by God. He is the Gardener who planted those desires, so like a child with both hands grasped by her Father in a never ending circle of dancing grace, I’m going to keep on expecting fulfillment and satisfaction from Him.
When I lean in to watch as He waters and weeds my garden, I am assured He will reap what He has planted in me, a tree of life.