Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thankful

I'm sitting in a quiet, evergreen-scented house. Christmas carols play in the background and the cat snoozes on the back of the couch. We're alone. Momentarily.

In this moment before people arrive, I just want to say that I am thankful. Thankful for this moment to reflect. Thankful for all the blessings in my life. The people--so dear, so diverse, so complex and amazing.

Thankful for warmth on rainy nights and laughter in unexpected moments. Thankful for times when I am alone. Thankful that I am not always alone. Thankful to know that no mattter what happens--the good, the bad, the things difficult or easy---there is a God who loves me.

Yes, very thankful.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

We Are the Ocean

We are the ocean, you and I.
The accumulated courage and gifts and incredible riches that lie within each of us overwhelm the sand in sheer weight and glory. Strange how we rarely understand this, how we can journey through our lives wondering--fearing--that we are not enough.

There's so many people in the world--sometimes I think about how each person, each dwelling has a whole life all its own--mothers, fathers, siblings, children, cousins--like waves going out and out and out. All across the country and the world, each life is lived in full color, Tragedies. Triumphs.
Precocious toddlers. Talented teens. Aging parents. It boggles my mind to ponder the multiplied millions of ripples going out from every person, but God knows us each one.

I love that.

He knows each individual "us" as if we were the only one He ever created. That intimately. He not only knows the names and the number of stars in the sky, or the sand on all the seashores, He knows the number of hairs on each of our heads. We are not "the masses" to him. We are known. Valued. Loved. He is not overwhelmed by the ocean of humanity that lives and breathes and calls out to Him in need and in love and in etremities often. No, not overwhelmed. Quite the contrary:

He is delighted with us!



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Raindrop Raises the Sea

 Everyday I get up and I write in hopes that something I say will encourage, will lift, will touch someone else so that they can go through their day not because they have to, but because they get to. I want to write in such a way that those who read my words will glimpse that life is not a given, but a gift.

Sometimes what I do in my life seems very small. Like one raindrop on the surface of the sea. And yet, as has been said, one raindrop, though very tiny, does indeed raise the sea. So if I continue to get out of bed, continue to pull words together from somewhere within who I am and have the bravery to put them out where other eyes can see and study them, I will have made an impact. Perhaps not a crater, nor even much of an indentation, and no great fanfare will accompany the process. In the early hours before the sun brings on the day and only small nocturnal critters are awake, I write. It's a quiet thing (save for the clicking of computer keys): sometimes almost a meditation, this reaching within myself for unformed words; to bring to life ideas, to clothe in concrete terms what exists only in one person. Me. 

It's strange, isn't it--though academically we understand that there is only one of each of us, so often we do not feel that we are enough. Just me. Just you. Our essense without all the trappings. And yet--if I did not get up and write, the earth would be the poorer. Few might mark the absence or mourn the lack, but that's all right. I don't write so that the whole of humanity can say, "Wow! Look at her." I write to give wings to what lies in my heart--small and great things, soft and harsh things, sad and glad things--because it brings me joy. And I am fueled with the hope that those words once honed and polished may slip inside another's soul and give them similar courage to be who they are and to know they are enough. I'm content with this hope, this knowledge that a seed sown will bring forth a harvest according to its kind. I write for the one child, the one adult, the one fellow sojourner, that they may gain courage to continue to be who they were made to be, and that we all might know and understand that truly, one raindrop raises the sea.

And all of us together--we are the ocean. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Oh Freedom!

Oh, freedom! Nations fight for you. The brave die for you. Little ones live in you, running, laughing, sleeping in peace.

Oh, freedom! Much more costly than gold, not bought with something as easy and as base as money. Oh no. You come at a price, and those who love you must never forget that they live free because people have bought that right at the ultimate price. To all the defenders of our freedom and for champions of justice in the earth, wherever you may be--

Thank you!


Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Time to Sow

It's Father's Day, and we're planting trees. 

Redwood trees.

I'll admit it--compared to their 300 ft. anscestors on the coast, it boggles me to think that these six foot saplings will ever someday tower so tall they will scratch the sky. Yet barring unforseen problems, the only thing that can prevent them from doing so is if we never actually plant them.

Elementary, isn't it--that we must sow in order to reap? But how often we look at the barreness of a hillside, the lack of fertile soil, the circumstances that seem contrary, and give up without ever actually planting something. This happens in the realm of people's hearts as well--our own and others'. Maybe we look at the level of emotional disconnection and we think "what's the use of even trying to fix this relationship?", or at the discrepancy of what we long for compared to what we actually experience, be it in relationships, dreams, or destinies.

In the midst of the process it's easy to overlook the simple truth that we must sow today what we want to harvest in the coming years. Love. Kindness. Wisdom. Vision, effort, grace. And sometimes it appears as if these seeds are dying in the ground, for all we see happening on the surface.

But we sow in hope. Ecclesiates 11 says, "He that observes the wind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap..." I, for one, have often questioned the value of casting seed into the face of the wind, or looked at the storm and wanted to draw back. And yet--if that's what we do when the ground seems unfriendly, the weather unrelenting, then indeed, we will never reap.

Because the flat-out truth is-- We only have the harvest we plant. No sow, no grow.

Of course there's watering. Tending. Weeding. Watching and praying, even. But no one incubates empty ground in hopes that the seed that was never sown will somehow miraculously spring up out of the dirt and bear fruit.

It's Father's Day today (as if every other day in the year is not!?), and that's just a good time to count precious the many ways we can sow into our kids, grandkids, greatgrandkids, honorary kids--into people, related or not--for of all the places we plant seeds, seedlings, or saplings, only people are eternal.

When our great-great-great-great grandkids dandle their great-great-great-grandkids on their knees (or give them rides on their shoulders, as the case may be), these redwoods we've planted will tower hundreds of feet into the air, and that will be amazing. But it is the people, in the end, which carry the richest results, eternal rewards, the harvest of our labors, and they carry them infinitely forward.


I'm thinking that is enough incentive to sow in all seasons, in all places, in all soils. Or as the writer says in Ecclesiastes: "In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhhold it, for you don't know which shall prosper; this [seed] or that, or whether they both shall yield good increase."


Happy Father's Day and happy sowing!

Monday, May 26, 2014

To All the Unsung Heroes

Though I posted this last Veteran's Day, I decided to put it up again. Some stories cannot be told too often. I want to dedicate this piece to all our soldiers past and present, and as I do, I also want to say a special thanks to Charles, to Brandon, and to Joe for giving your strength to preserve our freedom. You know who you are :-)

Someone very important died not long ago, but only a few people noticed. Where were the headlines for Ace Gibson? Surrounded by family and staff at the veterans’ home, he quietly exited this earth. Why did no reporter show up to cover this, his last great act of gallantry? Though we live in a world of million-dollar sports contracts and block-buster movie earnings, surely the passing of an old soldier is still important.
I know he wasn’t famous—not in the way other men have obtained fame. He was not a film star. Not a NASCAR racer, rolling out of control on a dangerous curve. He wasn’t even a politician or a small town businessman. Yet surely this must be one of  life’s more glaring ironies: Often those that live and die for themselves receive much public acclaim, while those that live and die for others, die in obscurity, unseen and unsung.

That’s how it was for Ace, anyway. What he accomplished on the battlefields of Europe was infinitely more important than any celebrity “job” which ultimately benefits only the celebrity himself. But to be fair, barely a handful of Ace’s buddies are even alive to remember the days when they were all young together, and others knew him to be just a regular guy who looked like any other old man, and they never knew his past. He was a quiet man who lived a quiet life. He stayed married to one woman for 60 years, raised a family and worked with the railroad in Kansas City for thirty years. He never talked about war experiences. Oh, he’d share the funny things—frying “borrowed” eggs in his combat helmet—things like that.
“Did you ever kill anyone, Dad?” his daughter asked one day.
His eyes looked far past her, and finally he answered. “Yes.”
But that was all he ever said. So maybe it is not anyone’s fault that no fanfare was blown and the nation’s flags never moved to half-mast when Ace passed on. There he lay, where the frailness of age and the ravages of Parkinson’s disease had brought him quietly to the end.
 It wasn’t until his funeral that things began to surface. “Did you know that the battalion he was in landed on Utah Beach at Normandy just days after DDay?” someone said. “He fought in the Battle of the Ardennes and was on hand for VE Day.”
“He received five bronze stars for gallantry in action,” shared another.
His wife doesn’t know where the medals are, but she found an old map, yellowed now with the years. It shows the path his battery, part of the Super Sixth Armored Division, took on those sad, weary days so long ago. A dotted line shows where his young feet walked, the battles he fought, the victories won. But it doesn’t begin to tell what his eyes saw, what his hands had to do, and what he was willing to give for our freedom.

More than sixty years have passed. Other wars have come and gone. And other men like Ace—some older, some younger—still hide their stories behind quiet eyes. And this is what I wonder: How do I say “thank you” to them before they, too, pass away unsung? Is there a way I can let these soldiers know that someone somewhere appreciates what they did on the behalf of women, children and a nation still free?
They don’t want to talk about it. But I do. I’d like to speak to each and every one—the pilots, the sailors, the infantrymen, and somehow convey to them that the hardships they endured, the atrocities they witnessed and committed to purchase freedom—were not in vain. I want to show them my children, laughing and carefree, and say thank you. Thank you for doing what you did, so I and my children could grow up in a safe and free country, where we can meet without fear and speak without apprehension.
 
I also want to say, “Thank you for risking your youthful dreams to purchase mine.”
I’m sure they’d brush it off, saying, as one has already said to me, “The real heroes are underground.”
But here’s what I cannot comprehend, as I look at soldiers—some in nursing homes now, some still strong in the power of their youth, and just returning from Iraq or Afganistan—why should men and women die for people and children they don’t even know? And yet I know the answer, even as I ask: Because within each is heroism, is gallantry, is the willingness to fight for the things that are precious, even to the giving of life. Truly, “…greater love hath no man than this, than that he lay down his life for his friends.”
So what I’d really like to say to Ace and to each and every soldier, sailor, flyer and marine, alive and dead is this: “May He who sees all things, bring to remembrance and hold in honor your quiet heroism. God bless you, Ace—you and those like you. And on behalf of all Americans—a deep and heartfelt thank you.”

 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Wild Flowers

I've been noticing wild flowers lately. California poppies. Wild lupine. Roses. They're blooming in gardens, in the woods, and by the side of the road: so brightly orange, so deeply purple; pristine, perfect. Wherever they grow, they are content. It is sufficient that they bloom and they bless us as we pass by. They don't have to be showcased to be beautiful. Even if no one sees them, they are enough. They are perfect.

Just like each of us. We don't have to be showcased in order to bloom, to be beautiful, to be enough. We don't have to be noticed by anybody in order to be sufficient or lovely. We are not just "okay." We are perfect, and like flowers, we can bloom in contentment, completely without the notice of the rest of humanity, because we are good and beautiful in God's eyes.

Its not about where we bloom or how we bloom at all. It's the fact that we do bloom--sometimes in spite of where we're planted. For us, like for the  flowers, it's not about needing to be seen. It's about us being who we were made to be--the colors, fragrances, and infinite variations, being content and being fully who we are--okay with being different from the next person. Okay to be unseen if we happen to bloom somewhere off the beaten path.

And if we seem to be growing far from where others might notice us, we need to know that ultimately, we are not unseen. We are celebrated; we are known; we are loved by our Creator, and He knows exactly what little corner of the earth we inhabit.

It is also beautiful to me how content flowers are to bless the earth. Whether we transplant them into places where a lot of people see, or leave them in the jungles or the mountain pastures where they spring up, bloom, and then fade unseen by human eye, wherever they find themselves, they do not change their behavior or their focus. They're humble. They're content. And they are fully given to blooming.

In fact, flowers don't care where they bloom, because ultimately they're focused on seed, on generations to come, on spreading and filling the earth with beauty.
I want to be that way--happy to bloom where I'm planted without a need to be noticed, singled out, or exclamed over. I am enough. I am beautiful. I am perfect. And so are you :-)