This morning, as I was hanging my laundry on the line in descending order of weight and size, I took my time to drape the last few articles—with stains—facing the sun. Nothing can disintegrate mustard spots and fade the vilest blotches of blood like a June morning’s piercing rays. Last week I hung a white tunic up with a mango mark that hadn’t come out in the wash, and hours later I reeled it back in without spot or wrinkle. Okay, it still had a few wrinkles—we’re at the mercy of the wind for that—but the yellow fleck had forever fled from the sun’s penetrating gaze.
That wasn’t the first time this morning I’d aired my dirty laundry, though.
I hauled my basket full of soiled cares and sullied concerns to my prayer place and washed them in the water of His Word. I let His mercy pour healing agents into the rinse as I scrubbed every anxiety over the washboard of His wisdom and commands. Ours is no quick-cycle chemical cleansing—prayer is a ‘roll up your sleeves’ kind of rewarding work.
Sometimes I get up from on my face before God fully cleansed and refreshed. Other times, like this morning, I find there are things that just don’t come out in the wash.
So I hung them up on my faith-line. I tethered them to mercy, and secured them with trust—carefully positioning each one before the Son’s face. He sees them, I know. They don’t stand a chance against His penetrating gaze.
Clouds might get in the way, this is true. But out there they will stay until He comes through.
I like to think that prayer is a little like doing my laundry. I have to keep up with it or I don’t have anything to wear. Sometimes a gentle rinse cycle is all I need. Some requests get put through the wringer. And some things just have to hang and dry.
… purify yourselves and change your clothes. Genesis 35:2
So I’m sitting outside the other day with Loco and one of the neighbour girls who often comes over to visit, and she turns to me and asks, “Can I have your dog when you die?”
Ah, I’m thinking to myself, the innocence of children. She thinks my little Loco (who’s already nearly ten in people years—making her eligible for Old Age Security in dog years, if they actually paid it out to dogs [I’ll have to write a letter to Peta]) is going to outlive me.
“Oh,” I say, “Loco’s ten years old.” But she keeps looking at me for an answer, so I continue, “She’ll most likely only live to be about 15.” She continues to look at me as I rock back and forth in my porch chair, feeling now like I should be knitting socks and pulling a shawl over my shoulders.
“Um, do I actually look to you like I’m going to die before that?”
She nods. And with childlike sincerity adds, “Yes… well, except for your hair.”
Definitely not getting the dog. And, although I did enjoy the rest of our time together (I have THE most darling neighbours), all I could think about was getting back inside so I could look in a mirror and scrutinize the latest attack the aging army had launched against me unawares. Should I have invested all that money in a good straightener when a set of curlers was more my speed?
Suddenly, how old I looked to the rest of the world mattered very much to me.
I have to admit, though, getting older isn’t the struggle I thought it was going to be—it’s those other areas of my life where people’s opinions have either validated or demeaned who I am; those areas set in stone, cemented into something sculpted by what others have said about or to me–and I find the Christian life is somewhat of a perplexing paradox at times.
We have within us an inner witness to the forgiveness, life and promises of our Creator—while outward circumstances bear down with such force they threaten to snuff it all out. And, if that isn’t bad enough, those looking on can threaten to annihilate us completely by their erroneous assessments—judging who we are by our situations.
True, we sometimes bring the storm on ourselves, and often we’re just reaping what we planted—but even then, when our hearts are repentant God is with us, and we must hold on to that truth without ever letting go, because that, alone, is our lifeline to getting through. We must learn to swim against the onslaught of opinion.
A man who’s fallen overboard and is floundering to keep his head above water in the middle of the ocean does not worry about how his hair looks as he clings to the lifesaver tossed out to him. God is not concerned about how well we impress others as we ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling;’ clinging to what His Word says about us as the umbilical cord keeping us securely connected to the womb of faith.
Joseph had to do it. So did Job. David did it, too. All of them looking pretty insignificant in the eyes of their contemporaries—suffering scorn and contempt. One thing they didn’t do, though, and that was listen to popular opinion, not even their own. They believed what God said about them; they chose the path less travelled—and that, like the famous poet said—made all the difference.
Feeling a little boxed in by other people’s opinions? Don’t give up, God has a lot to say about who we are…
even when the rest of the world has our days numbered.
I heard the Oscar Wilde quote in a song this morning on my way to our Easter service.
In the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life, I happen to find myself more down than up, lately—emotionally. But that’s okay this time around. I know I’m gaining ground spiritually. I’m sucking the marrow out of whatever the season is serving up as a side dish. Finding it’s even possible to be joyful and hopeful when I’m not particularly happy; when some circumstances loom like dark destroyer clouds ready to drop their bombs.
But the sap of my life runs from a profound place where nothing can touch it. Like God promised, I am becoming a tree planted by a stream that does not wither in times of drought.
When Jesus called I answered. When it was time to seek, I sought. And though I sometimes stumble, I have turned where He’s asked me to… because He made it possible.
Often I feel alone. Faith is not fun when the world’s chill beats at your best intentions and hammers down on your resolve. This graveyard of dead trees is haunting and unkind.
But deep within, where the riches of His kindness and grace have hewed out a sparkling spring, I drink deeply.
My roots have ravished the soil in their desperate quest to stay alive. Years without much sunshine; harsh winds, storms and winter chill have forced them down to places I never knew existed, and I feel each tendril wrapping itself around the Rock of Ages with all its might.
This saint has a past. A past that howls through those barren trees in a tormenting mockery of the way things should have been. It curls its spiny tendrils around the dry twigs of my regrets and snaps my feeble dreams in two. It reminds me that so much of my desolation is my own fault; rubs my nose in the reality of how my wrong choices have hurt others. It wants me to stay frozen in the winter of its torment for good.
But, oh, this sinner has a future!
It springs from within—no matter if the sun is shining or the storms are rolling on. Or even if I don’t live up to my own expectations. It splits the deafening silence with the loud laughter of everlasting life, bellowing assurances carved into all creation from before the foundation of the earth.
It shouts, ‘Forgiven!’ It resonates, ‘Paid in Full!’ It burns away the chaff of winter’s wicked taunts in the unquenchable passion of His mercy.
How timely our last Beth Moore Bible study lesson happened to coincide with Easter. A few weeks back we wrote down the personal, besetting sins that have troubled us and each took our turn nailing them to the cross.
The object lesson tore into my soul like lightning striking sand, melding and transforming it permanently into something beautiful. I had never sensed, so deeply, my own guilt—not anybody else’s; mine—that crucified Jesus. My sins He took on that cross. I think the recurring revelation will still lacerate the memory of my pride and rejuvenate my gratitude a million years from now, whenever I see the scars that testify of a Saviour-God Whose Holy justice could only be avenged by His own unrelenting love.
Yes, this sinner has a past I can’t deny,
and a future I cannot wait to embrace.
Ah, spring—and a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of…
Mud, of course.
The snow’s finally beginning to melt around here, and underneath it all is lots of muck—in my front yard, anyway.
Looks like there’ll be a little more excavation going on, and in the meantime we get to enjoy everything the bulldozer trudged up.
I’m saying enjoy because the neighbourhood kids and I have been finding really cool rocks to paint. We spent the afternoon out front with newspapers spread across the patio blocks–and painted everything from ladybugs and bees to Easter eggs and each other.
I must say, Haley’s execution of me is remarkable—it looks just like me. Of course, Sammy doesn’t think so, but these children are too young to appreciate the beauty of painting a fresh face on every morning.
I figure, if you’re stuck with a front yard full of rocks and dirt, you might as well make the most of it.
We sure did.
It’s going to take some work, though, to get the lawn looking good again—wouldn’t want the front yard like this the rest of the summer. Want to go back to the way things were, before it all got dug up.
I’m wanting some other things to go back to the way they were, too–before some things inside of me got all dug up; when nothing was more important than the nearness of God.
“If you, Israel, will return,
then return to me,”
declares the LORD (Jeremiah 4:1).
We’ll have to rake up all the soil, dig out the rocks and get rid of the weeds and other debris that was churned up.
“If you put your detestable idols out of my sight
and no longer go astray…
It will all need to be levelled out before planting grass seed,
“Break up your unplowed ground
and do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,
circumcise your hearts…
Spring’s a good time to get things ready; to realize–some of those mountains that just won’t budge?
Can only be taken out one little stone at a time…
I love me a good egg.
I love dipping my toast in a couple almost every morning. I love them over easy, in a salad or whipped in heaping piles atop a lemon meringue pie. I love the way they line up neatly in the carton and stack conveniently in the fridge. I like that you can even put the ground up shells in your compost.
They’re bursting with heart healthy nutrition, low in saturated fat—and have very few calories.
Recent studies reveal a plethora of reasons to include eggs as often as you can in a healthy balanced diet. Turns out they’re not just good for your heart, they’ll help you have the right kind of cholesterol. They contain high quality protein, and all 9 essential amino acids.
They’re good for your eyes, brain, nervous and cardiovascular systems, and are one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D. They lower your risk of breast cancer, promote healthy hair and nails, and may actually help prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.
Not bad for such a humble little powerhouse of provision, who’s had to stand up against a bad rap for so long. They’ve had to fight incredible odds against the barrage of misinformation assaulting their good reputation.
But truth is always truth; and once the air clears and misconceptions are shown to be what they are, truth stands as it had all along. It doesn’t cower to consensus, and it doesn’t blush with shame at the false accusations–it is a pillar planted in the roots of eternity past, present and future by God Himself, who will bring all truth to light in His time.
And in the same way you can’t put a good egg down (pun intended), eventually lies and deception will give way to truth in our own lives.
Sometimes I buckle under the weight of misconceptions, slander and half-truths–thinking it has all obscured me even from God; that He either doesn’t see what I’ve been buried under… or He doesn’t care. But often, in that obscure place He shines the light on my own misplaced motives, judgments and accusations of others–and I wonder if it’s all scrambled eggs from His point of view.
If I fail to see the ‘good’ in those who harm me, am I doing the very thing they have failed to do, as well? What a mixed up carton of eggheads we can be sometimes.
And, from this place of improved perception, I am learning to release, one by one, all the hurtful and damaging things, real… and imagined, maybe–and finding the benefits of a few good eggs in my life is very much worth the weight of any harm done in the process. And the hard shells of past offences?
They make for a richer soil to grow in when I grind them all up and toss them away.
My friend, Claudia, got a very nice camera for Christmas from her loving hubby. And just because she’s naive enough to believe I know something about photography, she sent me a few of her practice shots for feedback.
I think Claudia is a natural picture taker. She has a good eye–and the more she gets out there and shoots, the more that talent is going to shine through.
I couldn’t help but be captivated by two of the pictures, though–and only because they were so ordinary…
…in the most extraordinary way.
Sometimes we miss the beauty of simple things. A cozy neighbourhood corner sporting a spiffy red stop sign is so comforting close up–it reminds me that we should all have a place to go back to at the end of the day.
And who ever takes the time to stare at a chimney? It pours out heat from the hearth of happy homes.
Even the most mundane things look appealing with the right focus.
That’s the way it is with us, too. None of us are really all that, not really. But when we get our focus on God, and He gets us into focus–well, He makes us look a lot more appealing than we ever could have otherwise.
But He has a good eye–and He focuses on making the most out of ordinary people.
I’m hoping to be just like my dog, Loco, when I grow up. Not that I want to bark at strangers and follow myself around the house all day—just that I’d like to be as consistently happy as she always is.
From the moment I surface beneath my mound of blankets to hit the snooze button for the first time each morning, until I submerge again into the sandman’s shadows—she’s happy. And she’s not just ‘happy’ happy, she’s ecstatically thrilled about everything. If I get up from reading, a wagging tail propels her into spirals around my feet. Any sudden movement brings on a whole new carnival of contentment; a gala celebration.
If she goes outside she’s overjoyed. When she comes back in she tears up the floorboards with her enthusiasm. Even if she’s sound asleep and I slip quietly by, her tail—as if stirred by my overwhelming presence—wags at my passing. She’s no less enthusiastic about everything life has to offer than she was nearly a decade ago when she christened the threshold of every happy moment at the altars of our affection, with her wiggling wee bursting bladder.
Everything with her is as new as a freshly spanked baby’s bottom—she lives on the delivery ward of blessings about to be birthed; the cusp of perpetual penchant.
She’s the sound of an ice-cream truck on a sunny Saturday morning. She’s new furniture and old books, slapstick comedy, clowns and every happy thing you could conjure up.
If she were a drink she’d be champagne; if she could fly she’d alter the earth’s orbit. She lives life like it’s some huge pie eating contest—gobbling up all she can before time runs out.
And, it’s not as though she’s any stranger to hardship, either.
Oh, the troubles she’s seen…
She just knows how to bounce back from it is all. She doesn’t know anything about letting circumstances keep her down.
So, yeah—that’s pretty much the way I’d like to embrace the rest of my life. Living like it’s a walk in the park, because truthfully—sometimes it’s more like a walk down the plank.
And as much as we’d like them to be—trite and shallow canine comparisons, however clever—are not enough to keep some of the very sobering situations and circumstances from seeping inside and petrifying the very marrow of us.
We can’t always tear up the floorboards to the next adventure when the next adventure is another disappointment or letdown. Sooner or later, exuberance buckles beneath the last straw. It’s not all that easy to wag your tail in that place, much less sit up and beg for more. But God doesn’t expect us to, either. He promised to find us wherever we’ve been scattered to—bring us back, bind up our injuries and strengthen us. That’s where I’ve been lately—getting all bandaged up and better.
I can’t help feeling more exuberant about life again, though I’m nowhere near altering the earth’s orbit yet. Some of those circumstances and situations are just as foreboding.
Still–I aspire to live life like my loco little dog–in a carnival of contentment; on the cusp of perpetual penchant–bouncing back from the brink like it was just a nasty old bath or something.
I have to confess–God has been nothing but GOOD to me. Lately I feel as though I am living under the Divine downpour of His love and mercy. At every turn I hear His still, small voice of compassion–from the wellsprings of His goodness–bubble up from inside of me; cleansing and healing, and washing all the debris right out through my tear ducts. I think I would always like to rest in this place. Feels like grace to me…
I have found there
at the end of the day;
dressing my injuries–
drawing the weeping
pouring clean water over
all my sin.
When faith is frayed
on grace I lay
my weary soul.
And still I long
not just go till
the end of the day
to find there was grace
all along the way.
This is a cleave poem. I was first introduced to them while spending a lot of time on a writing/reviewing/critiquing site. This genre, created by Phuoc Tan-Diep, was introduced to the site by a very talented writer. I’ve since discovered that the art of combining more than one poem (I read one that had four poems in total) goes back well before cleave poetry. But, since that is how I learned it this is what it will always be to me.
I also like the ‘cleave’ concept–that each thought leans into and is dependant on the other. We are left with a tapestry of words to wonder over; woven works of art having something truly unique to ponder depending on which way you look at them. And when you read one all together it is like taking a step back to gaze on the complete picture.
Last night I was thinking of Job, and how much better his life was after his suffering was over. God blessed the latter part of his life more than the first. Sometimes we forget that suffering will end, and that, if we are truly trusting it to a faithful heavenly Father, our lives can only be all the better for it. That’s what inspired this one.
Read it through first as one complete poem; then read each side separately. There are three distinct poems or variations of thought in this.
If Job became blessed
more than he was before are
the cruel arrows of those who
plunder wasted, should we mourn for
the suffering, despair? Knowing— they
rise up now and shall
in the end be comforted
Part of today’s message at church was about taking off our old selves and putting on the new. Sure sounds easy enough up in the balcony, praising with the angels. But, I know this week I’m probably going to get stuck in my old ‘me.’
I’m not really the ‘button-up-the-front,’ dress shirt kind of self you can just slip in and out of on a whim–more like the smothering, ‘too-tight’ turtleneck type that gets stuck around my shoulders while I’m trying to wrestle me over my big, fat head. I might need someone else to grab an end and give me a good yank.
I was thinking about this on the drive home: how changing isn’t always easy. Getting rid of some of the old things is… well, it’s hard. For one thing, I can’t always remember where I’ve left the new self, and sometimes I feel like–at least the old me’s got me covered.
You know what I mean: it’s hard to stop being angry at someone when you feel like it might leave you naked–exposed and vulnerable again. So, I just want to hang onto that outfit a little longer while I rummage through the house and find that forgiveness jumper. And, anyway, I like the way it enhances my curves. Oh!–you said it gets on your nerves.
I had no idea it was going to be like ‘Groundhog Day,’ either. You know–the movie where he keeps waking up the next morning and starting the same day over? No matter how many times I take myself off–I’m all wrapped up in me the very next morning. When I was young I had some friends who carefully laid their clothes out every night before they went to bed– I also had some friends who stuck my head in a snow drift till I thought I was going to faint–I just can’t live up to trying to be like my friends anymore.
This is why I’m glad the pastor reminded me that I have to let God change the way I think about things–by getting into the Word. It’s all by grace–I can’t earn it, or be good enough to do it, or feel bad enough to get it right. God does it–but I have to ‘co-operate.’
And, BOY, do I really want to learn to get it right. God is forgiving–this I have discovered with great delight–but, people? Honestly, sometimes sitting out in an arctic snow bank in my birthday suit with a pack of ravenous wolves seems more appealing than apologizing for a sudden slip of the old nature. Especially if my ratio of old to new days is one in ten, and no one even notices the other nine. Dressing to the ‘Nines’ doesn’t always cut-it with other people–which is probably a good thing because putting off ‘falsehood’ is right at the top of the list, anyway. It’s the first thing to go.
I was thinking about that, too, because, let’s face it–we’re all a little deluded about ourselves, and sometimes we’re just the last to know–wouldn’t it be easier if we could rip off each others’ outfits, instead? Cause I sure wonder if some people aren’t getting dressed in the dark… What’s that? Did I get this log suit at the lumberyard?