Monthly Archives: July 2014

Beneath the Beauty

Usually I watch the evening news out of the corner of my eye while attending to something else in my lap – browsing Pinterest or Facebook on my iPad, folding laundry, working on some needlework. But one night last week, a picture popped up on the large screen that yanked my eyes and heart into sharp focus.

It was the photo of people searching through fields of sunflowers for wreckage of the downed Malaysian jetliner.

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Here’s the thing that got me about this picture. We are accustomed to looking for even the smallest hint of beauty rising up out of ashes of destruction.  But in this photo, these men are keeping their eyes open for any sign of death and destruction that may lie beneath all the beauty. They are looking for charred luggage, plane fuselage, a black box…and most heartbreaking of all – the remains of the victims.

I couldn’t help but admire these men in the fields – men who had the courage to wade into the beauty, pull back the stalks and look for the ugly. To remove the remains of the devastation.

We all have our fields of flowers – our smiling faces, our pretty clothes, coiffed hair and polished nails…our I’m good, thanks for asking.

But beneath all that is beautiful lies the broken pieces of our lives, the parts that have been shot out of our sunny skies to lie in ruin close to our hearts. Dark charred places that nobody ever sees.

We long for someone to wade into our yellow fields, bend back the flowers and say I see this. I care about it. Tell me how it came to be here. Let me help you carry it out. If we can’t carry it out, let me sit here in this field and weep with you.

Proverbs 20:5 says ~

 “…the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out.”

There is a fine art to this digging deep and drawing out of our hearts.

But oh how we desire for someone to take the time and have the understanding to pull back the pretty and ask tender loving questions about the ugly.

And may we be brave enough to wade – carefully, slowly, lovingly – into others’ fields, to all that lies beneath the beauty.

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Sand Bags and Leashes

This morning’s walk was glorious…sun strong-arming its way upward through the low ceiling of heavy clouds…Let me through, let me through! 

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Our monsoon season has been showing off these past few weeks. The ground is saturated, the washes are flowing and the daily thunderstorms have become our evening entertainment. This is the first time, in several years, that we can actually begin to relax and enjoy the rains again because….

We had a monstrous fire in our area a few years ago, one that destroyed most of the trees and brush up on our mountains, and charred its way up to the very edge of our property, leaving the stucco on our house speckled with ash. Flooding became a real problem when the monsoon season hit on the heels of the fire. There was no longer much on the mountains to stem the rains and slow its descent into our neighborhoods. The floods drastically altered the dirt road that leads up to our house, gouging out a deep gorge that would fill up with debris during every rain storm. The water swirled around and seeped into several homes in our area, so people put sandbag walls around their homes – for protection.

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This morning, one home still has sandbags up…just in case.

 

When I clipped the leash on our dog before my walk this morning, I thought about other catastrophes in our lives – the things that hurt us and gouge out deep wounds in our hearts.

The days of letting our pups run free on our walks, stopped one day when a rattlesnake killed our precious Yorkie – not during a walk, but on our patio, inside our walled backyard. The summers here are wonderful, but they are not without an “ugly” side. We live out in the country on four acres, that green up so beautifully after a few good showers. But the season also awakens the snakes. And so our walks are shadowed a bit now, because my eyes are always on the edges of the dirt road, ready to rein in our pooches should I spot anything slithering in the dirt or grass. I still enjoy the walks, but I’m more guarded. And I now put our dogs on leashes – for protection.

Once we’ve been hurt, whether it be through catastrophic fire and flooding, the loss of a beloved pet from a rattlesnake bite, or an even greater heartache – one that sends you reeling into the shadows and clinging to the cross – one thing is certain, our walk through this world is altered. We put up sandbags and clip on leashes – for protection, vowing we will never be that vulnerable again.

It is a reality of life lived here in, what C.S. Lewis aptly named, the Shadowlands.

But there is hope and joy to be found, even in the midst of our guardedness and striving for self-protection. It is a hope and joy rooted in a God who sees all, weeps with us, and promises to turn our ashes into beauty. I’ve seen Him do this, time and time again…and it propels me onward and gives me courage to be vulnerable again ~ to risk being wounded.

Abraham Kuyper said…

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!”

We are His beloved and, blissful thought, He owns every square inch of our lives – our homes, our pooches, our children, our jobs, our loved ones – they all belong to Him. And He is not a harsh landlord. He is a good Lord, who speaks to us in our pain…

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God redeems what is stolen. He restores what is broken.

It will never be the same again, and we may never even see the restoration this side of eternity, but we must never stop looking for it, and trusting the One who promises to make all things new.

This year, we are seeing no flooding at all. There is enough new growth on the mountains to keep the waters at bay and enable us to sit back and enjoy the rains more fully. God is restoring the landscape around here, and bringing a renewed relaxation and enjoyment of the monsoon season.

And God has blessed us with two “new” canine babies, who delight our hearts and amazingly awaken more joy, when we once swore we wouldn’t get another one because the pain of losing it was too great.

I’m learning to guard my heart differently now. Not so much against the pain, but against bitterness and hardness of heart. I ask God to give me a soft tender heart, one that trusts Him more readily. When I start to put up sandbags and clip on leashes, I ask God to help me let go, relax, trust Him with all I strive to protect.

It will be a lifelong struggle – those sandbags and leashes will always be near.

But HE is nearer still.

Oh Lord, help me to remember that.

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Small Things

The thunder is loud in the canyons behind our house – tumbling around like giant boulders playing chase. Rain patters our skylights and soaks our doggies as they go out for their final backyard visit before settling down for the night. Jeans rattle in the dryer, their metal buttons and zippers clacking in rhythm to the rain. It’s a peaceful moment, in what has been an ordinary day around the home front.

I wonder why I even take these few minutes to record this day. Why remember it? Nothing eventful happened. No phone calls of any significance. Even a trip into town might have been noteworthy had I run into someone I know, or didn’t know, but would’ve enjoyed engaging in conversation.

It was a stay-at-home-clean-house-do-laundry-organize-set-things-in-order sort of day.

But it was a day.

Given by a gracious God, to live fully, even in the seemingly mundane moments and tasks.

There was ~

  • air to breathe
  • an air conditioned home
  • pooches to pamper and hug often
  • a meal to plan and create (yes, create – cooking is a chore if I make it, but playtime if I create it)
  • a husband to greet warmly at the door with a hug and home cooked meal
  • clothes to clean and hang in our closets
  • a computer that keeps me connected to the outside world on these home days
  • words to read
  • words to write
  • a mind to think
  • hands to create “Toddler Busy Bags” for my 18 month old far away granddaughter
  • flowers to plant in a pot by the front door

It was indeed, a day.

And I am thankful to the Father for letting me live it.

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Clearing the Glass

Alrighty then, I’m ready to get started. First WordPress blog post, here we go…

I started a blog a couple years ago, one with a very specific theme. And get this, I’ve written a whopping four posts there. But, I’ll keep it up and running, if not for the simple fact that women keep pinning it on Pinterest for its “Creativity Retreat” ideas. If I delete it, I can’t stand the thought of some poor woman planning a women’s retreat, searching for fun ideas, eagerly clicking on the link to my site, only to find it no longer in existence. So, that’s not going to happen.

But THIS blog…THIS is my space and place in which to write whenever the urge strikes me, about whatever needs to come out of my heart and mind. My biggest struggle, I can already tell, is going to be perfectionism and over editing with this blog (because, good night! the entire blogosphere is open to reading my words – authors, English teachers, the grammar police!). Sooo, I tell myself to fuhgeddaboudit – write off-the-cuff, from the heart. And if you detect too much polishing going on here, please slap me and yell LIGHTEN UP!

I was reading an article on ScribblePreach (here) the other day, where the author quoted Charles Spurgeon. As Nicholas McDonald says in this post, this was written to preachers, but it certainly applies to the written word, as well.

“We are not sent into the world to build a Crystal Palace in which to set out works of art and elegancies of fashion…Some men…

are grievously in error if they think they thus manifest their own wisdom, or benefit their hearers…The best light comes from the clearest glass. Too much paint keeps out the sun. Our Lord’s parables were as simple as tales for children, and as naturally beautiful as the lilies that sprang up in the valleys where he taught people…

His parables were like himself and his surroundings…and were never strained, fantastic, pedantic or artificial. Let us imitate him, for we shall never find a model more complete, or more suitable to the present age.” ~Charles Spurgeon

I have no crystal palace to build, no amazing work of art to display, and no wisdom of my own to manifest. May I keep the glass clear, the story simple, and the message beautiful in its truest form.

And may I write a post more often than once a year.

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