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.