Category Archives: Devotion

Father: Unknown

If you had been there,

In the shadowland of childbirth

between life and death,

Holding her hand through the blood and the tears

As she brought forth your seed-

Would you have stayed?

If you had gazed a little longer

Into the innocent slate of my soul

When you finally did come ‘round

To count fingers and toes-

Would it have moved you?

Would you have given me your name?

If I had wrapped my fingers around your thumb

And smiled…

Your smile, slightly crooked, and crooning

Would you have taught me your songs?

Would you have made room for me on your knee?

With the others?

I found you too late.

Too late to ask you face to face.

To gaze into your eyes to see my own,

To hear your voice

To understand my place in your life.

Would you have told me the truth?

If I had found you,

Just a little sooner-

Would I know the smell of your cologne-?

The weight of your walk,

The sound of your voice?

Was your favorite color green?

Did you dream of Ireland?

Did you dream?

I think you would have liked me

Loved me even.

If only we’d been given the chance to try.

If only.

Father Unknown is what it says on my Birth Certificate,

Next to two tiny inked foot prints

And the name of the man who wielded forceps

ripping me from the womb.

She was too proud to be unwanted,

She thought she could be enough

For the both of us.

She tried.

But the siren song of belonging

Pulled me to the cliffs

Desperate for the sight of you.

Always on the horizon of my questions,

My penny fountain wish-

If only I could reach you.

You were lost to me.

Lost until spit in a jar and  DNA code

Became the lighthouse.

When I least expected it,

When life was barely breathable and all was lost

When the foundation was smoldering

And the roots exposed,

She found me.

This sister of blood and pain

Led me to the cliff walls

Tracing for me the hieroglyphics of your presence,

Teaching me you.

In her smile, in his voice, in their laughter.

The family you left behind is my inheritance-

Maybe it is better this way.

You left me the best of you.

A treasury of discovery

As I look for you, in them,

You, in me,

As I look, I find I am a little less lost

A little less undone.

As I look at them,

I am finding you.

©Christina Dammerman 2017

 

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The Slipping of the Ring

I watched a covenant rip. I heard the slow tearing of the promise of two hearts and I felt the desperate reaching of my fingers to mend the frayed edges of two lives- fall short against the ragged edge.

We were all bleeding in the end.

All that remains now is the violence that comes from ownership.  “Mine, mine….this IS MINE.”  Like seagulls tearing apart a washed up meal upon the shore…all that is left is bones.

I do, became I -don’t -know, became I can’t, became I wont, became…goodbye.

She ran to her faith, he ran to himself and the work of his hands.

They both ran. I watched the dust ascend as the taillights signaled their separate ways.

I longed to call them to the table one more time, to set before them the feast that forgiveness brings, the joy in the cup of reconciliation, to sing to them the hymn of unity, but their eyes had already gone dim, and their ears could no longer hear.  ” NO ” had taken hold of their heart as “Yes “left with the slipping of the ring.

 

Those Moments

Those moments when you can feel the spirit like the breath of a lion pushing you to the edge of real and tangible, panting and gasping for the supernatural more real than breath.

Those moments when you know what you know by the Divine in you, the essence of truth, the light that hasn’t faded, the rich vastness of eternity telling you what you see with your naked eye….is not all there is to know.

Those moments when prayer ascends like a baby descends. Gripping writhing agony of purpose and destiny. On behalf of another. For another. For life. For hope. For the promise that awaits in the holding.

Those moments when you find your voice is not alone. You are surrounded by a chorus of keening tears lifting  you by the strength of individual sorrow shared in community. Those moments.

Those moments when your faith is something more than a declaration of creeds, it is a life moving in tandem with eternity.  It is real, in those moments when you feel prayer leave your lips and kiss the face God.

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Healing Family Trauma

My Soul Care

“With new discoveries in epigenetics now making headlines, many of us are asking an important question: What are my children really inheriting? Can my baggage, the unfinished business I don’t deal with, pass on to my kids? Without knowing it, could I be hurting them?”–Mark Wolynn

If you have asked yourself these questions,there is an answer!  Check out Mark’s article on his blog here, then come back and schedule a free 30 minute consultation and lets visit about how Soul Care can help in healing family trauma.  Step into 2017 whole and living intentionally.

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Of Baling Wire and Tailpipes

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I journeyed down the frozen mountain to lend my paper wrangling skills to our local charity children’s gift program, enjoying the camaraderie of my Angel Friend Sister “J”, and wrapping mounds of presents destined for needy families.  It was a splendid afternoon, the kind that Hallmark movies like to pan to at the beginning scenes of movies about little miracles, and Christmas encounters. I was basking in the glow when I headed out on old Hwy 12, going through the list in my head of the last minute necessities to make Christmas Day dinner a success…when I heard it.  That screeching, scraping, dragging sound that said my tailpipe had come loose and was clinging by a wire to the main frame.

I whipped into the closest turn off, which happened to be our local cemetery and examined the damage. Sure enough….it was the tail pipe…dragging on the ground.  Frustration changed my rosey glow to a darker shade of red when I picked up the phone and dialed the Gardener. He was working way out of town and was unable to be my champion, but with patient directions instructed me on how to wire it up with baling wire to get me home.  Now, did I know of anyone who could bring me baling wire on a cold Thursday before Christmas, afternoon?.

Baling wire.  From deep inside I heard an old, familiar chuckle.  The kind that came with piercing blue eyes that laughed and danced with the telling of a good joke.  A smile broke through my lips as I realized where I was.  The cemetery, literally a stone’s throw away from Mom and Dad’s resting place.  I imagined the conversation:

“Hey Ma, look, the kid needs baling wire.  Didn’t I always tell her not to go anywhere without it?”

“Yes, Bunk…you were right…when will she ever learn….”

I laughed out loud as I dialed the phone to my beautiful Sister J.

” Hello!” Came her friendly, never too busy to talk to a friend voice.

“Want to come rescue me?”  I asked, still laughing at the predicament of no baling wire to be found in my car.

“I would love to come rescue you…..where are you?”

I laughed as I said, “the cemetery…could you bring some baling wire and cutters?”

“Oh My God….are you ok? Was the response followed by….”We are on our way”

I sat in the stillness of the afternoon, and felt my Dad’s arm around my shoulder, and the weight of his laughter filled rebuke.  “Don’t leave home without it!”

“Oh Daddy.  Merry Christmas.  I miss you. I hear you…I get it, thanks for the gift.  I won’t leave home without it. “

 

 

 

Fox Holes

The Light-Bringer and the Brown-Eyed Girl were cold.  The Gardener and I braved the snowy river road saw in hand to cut them a jog of wood.  It was in the midst of splitting and stacking, teaching the Brown-Eyed Girl the way to load a pick up and not lose a stick that we remembered the fox holes.

My Daddy was always about getin’ wood.  Winter we scouted while looking for the perfect Christmas tree, Summer we spent weekend after weekend hauling in the loads to feed the ole Blaze King wood stove that would burn non stop by the first week of October.  The Fall was considered a success if the wood shed was perfectly stacked floor to ceiling with just the right length of pieces to make the armloads we carried in worth the effort.  He taught all of us kids the secret of a well stacked cord of wood:  “No fox holes.  You stack each cord with each piece fitting snugly, no gaps for the ‘foxes’ to get through and your pile will stand sturdy from the bottom to the top.”

Song of Solomon 2:15 Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

I thought of how easy it is in relationships to leave gaps-fox holes,  where the enemy can get in and destroy love, by being sloppy or inattentive to the ones we love.  It struck me how important it is to construct defenses of love around  my marriage and friendships, that leaves no openings  for the foxes of offense, envy, jealousy, pride, selfish ambition, striving, wrath, gossip, greed, perversion, lust to enter and destroy the vineyard of my heart.

We loaded the black truck to the top, and sent them home with the tools for heat.  I began to pray that the lesson of the fox holes would find it’s way into their heart, and that love would bloom, and grow in safety and they would discover for themselves the places where the foxes had entered, and catch them and build for their hearts a place of peace.  I gazed at the Gardener and wondered at our own wall, lovingly holding his hand back up the river road I poked around the walls of my heart, and looked for foxes.

 

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I Pledge Allegiance-

I pledge allegiance to the Lord

Who gave his life for mine,

Who receives the sinner’s broken plea

And makes his face to shine.

I pledge allegiance, to the Lord

Who lives to intercede,

Who shields the smoldering, flaxen heart

Not breaking the bruised reed.

I pledge allegiance to the Lord

The King of Justice, Truth and Love,

Who calls the weary to find their rest

Declaring us Beloved.

I pledge allegiance to the Lord

Whose reign will never end

Whose anthem dispels the darkest fear,

Whose voice the heavens  rend.

Come Lord Savior, King Sovereign

Bring peace to this fractured land,

Lead us into life eternal

By your great and mighty hand.

–Christina Dammerman 2016

 

 

 

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The Impossible Dream

Today we awake to new leadership over our nation. The media scratches their heads, news report headlines ask the repetitive question: “How did we get it wrong?” They say, we were undercover, closet trump voters. They say it was magic, they say it was the silent majority they say…

I smiled as I read the transcript of President Trump’s speech. Dream big and nothing is impossible resonated with my heart. “They” can say what “They” want, we know how this happened.

Daniel 2: 20-22:  Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. 21″It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. 22″It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.…

Romans 13:1-2:   1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is from God. The authorities that exist have been appointed by God. 2Consequently, the one who resists authority is opposing what God has set in place, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.…

I now turn my heart to our great country and pray that the grace we have been extended will not be wasted.  I pray that we will truly turn to God with whole hearted devotion and learn HIS voice above all others. I pray that we will enrich, equip and launch the next generation to be fearless lovers of an all powerful God.  I pray for Trump, and his family.  I pray for our Vice President and his family.  The transition will be hard, and the journey will change them all, I pray for the better.  My hope is that as Solomon did, President Trump kneels in petition before the God who placed him in office, and asks the perfect question. How do I lead YOUR people.

1 Kings 3:9
“So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

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The Beam

We have lived five seasons on the old homestead.  Five seasons of  extended grace to fields, and furrows, to garden and shed.  Five seasons of running into myself as nine, twelve, sixteen, twenty one with five in tow…a blended family that found shelter under The Old Oaks welcoming shade, and my Father’s watchful gaze.  Five seasons of longing for time to slow it’s relentless march. Five seasons of learning to embrace loss, and discovering joy in the way new life comes from hard grounds.  It was time to change. Time to make the old new, the broken whole, but where to start? This spring, under the weight of wet, heavy snow the Old Oak tree split at the top and a large heavy branch crashed to the earth.  I trembled that morning upon discovering the branches lying separated from the root source.

“Don’t leave me too”, I whispered, running my hands over the scarred ancient bark…”not yet…not ever”

I remember when Dad rattled the oaks last July with his passing, “Squeak” said it was like a hurricane in the tops of the trees, and she knew her “George” was gone.  I felt paralyzed to touch anything lest the memory of my parents be forever altered, or worse…lost.  I was stuck between the forward and the backward swing of a pendulum of emotion. Deep down, I knew to keep grasping and trying to hold the past together  was not living, it was more like being a curator in a mausoleum. Yet, everything felt sacred. The old wood stove with the burnt out box, Mom’s dishes, Dad’s shoes.  It was in holding these things, that I was reminded that it was love that built this house, and the one before that and the one before that. It was a desire for family to be together that drove down hard roots in unrelenting soils. This was a homestead. A place to call the children and their children back to. An anchor in the storm of restlessness,a place where love would reign. So I breathed and whispered to the Gardener that it was time…time to change.

“Where do we start?”  The old porch that wouldn’t see another winter without bracing?  The roof where the tin was peeling back, the walls that needed insulation, the barn that was needing closed in?  The answer came dressed in oak cabinets that had survived a fire, but needed a Master’s touch.  Like our lives, and our hearts.  It was decided.   The kitchen would be first.  The question then loomed,  “how do you make what belonged to another family fit yours?”  I could feel my parents nod in approval as The Gardener sketched, and planned and pondered.

“That is what we have always done, that is what you will do.  ”

The old homestead had a long history of being a  modge-podge of blended hearts and bloods that called each other home, it only made sense that  we would start in the heart of the home, making the old oak cabinets fit. It was on a late summer day, as we sat around the living room dreaming out our  plans that the Boy,  the Light Bearer with the universe in his eyes dreamed a dream of open spaces and walls being torn down, and room being made.  I trembled as I felt the magnitude of the remodel of his vision….tear out the wall separating the kitchen and the living room? I glanced at the Gardener who surveyed the plan with quiet intensity. “It is possible” he said. “It would change the way this whole area looked…”  He glanced my way, waiting…”but, we would need to find a beam to support that long of a span”

I saw myself at nine, running through the house after Dad had framed the walls of the kitchen, it was a great big loop, I laughed at the thought of Mom literally going in circles to clean. I remember the way that opening into the kitchen was the perfect place to nail up sheets for a curtain as my brothers and sisters and I created a special romantic dinner “out” for the two of them one anniversary.  Get rid of the wall? As I sat staring into the kitchen, I felt for the first time the weight  and the joy of living here. Of making it MY home, instead of just my parent’s place.  This would be my touch to a long heritage. “Let’s do it!”  I declared with a lump in my throat. The Boy smiled and spoke gently, “I think Grandma would have loved it!”.  He smiled, I smiled and the Gardener sighed knowing the journey of transformation was going to be long and  hard. The kitchen waited in silence as The Gardener began his search for just the perfect beam. Long enough, strong enough,and  old enough.

The day he brought it home was a cold October.  Working swiftly in between the rain, the Gardener’s strong hands carefully unloaded the grayed, weathered beam.  and with a smile and a nod of respect he patted the side of the beam with his chisel.  “Oak!”   He smiled, as his eyes took in the craftsmanship that created this massive timber. ” You don’t find them like this anymore.  Over 100 years old! ”  The declaration was almost a whisper as he ran his chisel over the hand carved surface of the beam.  “Came from an old Amish barn in Pennsylvania.”  His hands moved over the rough sawn ridges and edges sensing the strength and the potential of the wood.  “Look at those marks, the way they carved this from the tree.  Turned the dowels by treadle, what stories this beam could tell!”

The Gardener began to whittle, and carve, and chisel the beam to his specifications with the same care he gave the earth when planning and planting his harvest. Methodical, precise, patient, intentional movements brought the massive old oak beam to rest securely upon the ceiling of the newly opened expanse.  We stood back in awe at the revelation of how one old beam, given new life, gave new hope to a tired space.  I went for the phone to call my Dad to celebrate, and remembered too late to stop the tears, that I couldn’t do that anymore.   The Gardener wrapped his arms around me, and whispered. “It’s ok, he knows”.  Somewhere outside, just past the oaks an old owl calls from the trees, and the wind picks up a bit and tosses more of the golden leaves to the ground.  A reminder to me, of how beautiful letting go can be.

 

The Lunch Box

Recently in a SoulCare session, I found myself sharing a tender memory of my Dad and his black loggers lunch box as a way of explaining the “gifts” of God.  The way He surprises us with the unexpected.

My Daddy’s lunchbox was the source of much excitement at the end of a long day.  The road to town was a winding one that didn’t beg to be traveled more than once a day.  So, early in the morning Dad would rise before the sun was up, pour his cup of black joe with three sugars, load his old loggers lunch box with the carefully wrapped wax paper bologna sandwiches Mom had made the night before and down the road to work he would go.  Because we lived so far out, Dad was the point of contact with the post office, the grocery store, the pharmacy and whatever else his large family of seven might need.

The opening of the  old lunch box held so much daily potential for joy and sorrow. It was a race to see who would get to open it first, there to find the love letters, lost letters, the occasional Idaho Mountain candy bar, cherry for me, vanilla for Him.   The surprise of a large piece of a bee’s honeycomb he had found in a tree he had cut down, with the amber sweetness still clinging to it.  To this day I remember my first taste of wild, fresh honey. You never knew what the lunch box would hold for that day…”life is like ….Dad’s lunch box….you never know what ya gunna get”.

The Lord has spoken to me often during this year of grieving the loss of my parents.  He has deepened my understanding of His Father’s heart in ways that has both excited, and terrified me.  Through it all, I am thankful that I am discovering a God who delights in giving gifts, and when that gift is the escort of pain, I know I can open the lid of the box, and I will find a tender relationship of love that whispers:  “As I was there in the joy, I am here in the sorrow.”

We took Dad’s old lunch box down from the shelf and used it one last time, to hold the cards and love wishes of those at his memorial service who expressed their hearts to us as they said goodbye.  Thank you Dad, for the lifetime of lessons you taught me from the lunch box.  img_20160916_101117750_hdr