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

Advertisements

Seed Silent

I have been silent of late. Not the sulking, depressed, anti-social, need to be hidden kind of silent, but the seed kind of silent.  Surrender silent.  The way the seed falls into the cool, dark blackness of earth and gives up one identity for the promise of another. Expectant kind of silent. The promise of the hard outer shell of familiarity cracking under the pressure of the moisture and the weight of the soil.  Longing silent. The way the lover sun pulls on the tenderness of the sprout coaxing and wooing it to the surface with promises of union and purpose and destiny.

This has been my silence as I walked my  earth wet with tears and felt the weight of the reality of my dust.  I have learned a lot about my seed self.  I have experienced paradigms shifting in every facet of my being.  Who I thought I was as Child, Mother, Wife, Friend, Worshipper…all being touched by the Master Gardener’s hand each time with one question:  “Do you yield?”

Will I yield to the work of the silence and surrender? Or die, a hardened intact seed with all of my potential locked inside me?

I bow and stretch and embrace pain as escort.  For the first time I am learning what it really means to be alive.  The why behind each breath and heartbeat.  I want to live.  Live intentionally and purposefully.  I am done with existing. There is so much more to it than that.

636bac3932b6649af6650729358aecd1

Of Oaks & Men

And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.–Mark 8:24

Today marks one year since you took your last breath here upon this earth, you breathe another air now.  Air that is full of life, light, sound and song.  I wouldn’t ask you to exchange the beauty of the eternal SON for this temporal sojourn…but, I miss breathing the same air with you Dad.

I always wished that scripture for you…that your sight would be given back and your blue eyes would gleam with the testimony of healing you believed in and prayed for.  Even lame, and broken, you were a tree walking.  In my life you cast a shade so deep nothing of this earth could scorch my spirit as long as you were close.  You were my oak-man….walking.

I miss you Dad.  I feel your presence in so much of my life.  I can see you, like a tree…walking.   I just wish we could sit together, one more time, here on the grass, under the old oaks, and sip sweet tea and remember.  To hear your stories, to tell you mine, to see you smile and shake your head, to feel that bear paw of a hand upon my shoulder, steadying the rising swells of grief, guiding me to shore with your sitting easy kind of presence that made it all ok.

It is raining today, might even snow in the high country they say…it stormed when you passed, and it is storming upon your remembrance day.  I like it this way.  As if heaven agrees that a tree has fallen in the forest, and it has made a sound that echoes through generations with it’s passing.

You remain, you will always remain.

–Kid

 

 

The Sum of 77 years

I added up my mother’s life today.  Tearfully categorizing piles of cancelled checks into tax deductions, filing her worldly identity into a plain manila envelope.  It should have been pink, or turquoise or purple.  Her life was so full of color and sass and passion that the last years seem to be a dim reminder of the vibrancy that followed her. Yet, in the midst of a life haunted by sickness and chained to insurance premiums, was a powerful stack of receipts with the memo:  “For the poor widow of Israel”

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.–James 1:27

There in her shaky handwriting lay moments of worship as she paused to consider others in their plight of distress.  Worship as she reached across the world to bring another woman aching the loss of love and laughter and marriage a warm smile, and a shoulder.  Her small offerings each memo-ed with care and intentionality.   “for the poor widow…of Israel”

She believed The Lord when he said of his friend Abraham from whom his people Israel would come :  ” I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you ” Genesis 12:3

I sat there staring at the pages and realized with pride, my mother practiced pure,faultless religion.  This revelation would have brought her great joy I think.   She lived so much of her life in shame and fear trying so hard to please everyone and her God.  How fitting that this tender act of monthly mercy, unseen and unsung would be what the Lord would highlight to me as the summation of her 77 years.

IMG_20151205_174002220

Wait For Me

It is Sunday as I write this.  The house is quiet, dogs are at my feet, the Gardener is napping, the sun is slowly moving behind the trees, the evening song is being sung by every robin and blue bird around the meadow.  It is a tarrying moment, and I am in it.

I had the privilege of experiencing a few of those in worship during our recent women’s conference.  Those moments where we corporately don’t push through the agenda, but we wait.  We hang out on a chorus, or a line or a phrase…and we sing it until we mean it.  It is balm to the soul of those whose spontaneous worship to God is a love language of prayer, and it is chaos to those who need definitive parameters, structure, and organization.  To one the tarrying, the waiting, the “pause” is a Hallelujah, to another it is Anathema.

Which is right?  I began to dig into the meaning of standing before the Lord to minister to him, or wait on him.  In Hebrew the word for tarry, or stand, is “amad”  it means :

A primitive root; to stand, in various relations (literally and figuratively, intransitively and transitively): – abide (behind), appoint, arise, cease, confirm, continue, dwell, be employed, endure, establish, leave, make, ordain, be [over], place, (be) present (self), raise up, remain, repair, + serve, set (forth, over, -tle, up), (make to, make to be at a, with-) stand (by, fast, firm, still, up), (be at a) stay (up), tarry.

I wonder if sometimes we get so caught up in our “ministry” to others….we forget the first priority is to minister to the Lord.  To wait upon him, for him, with him…to be present in our songs, and words and prayers.  To show up full hearted longing to just be with him.  In the Old Testament, this was done in open context.  Not behind closed doors, shut away and hidden from view.  It was PDA .  (Public Display of Affection).  Something we are not comfortable with, in any context, especially church.

Yet, when you look around at creation, and you see the work of HIS hands, it is all PDA. The birds, the bees, the animals, the sun, the moon the stars… all loving Him openly without shame according to their creation.  The racket in the trees this evening was pure delight.   Why then does it become such an issue of discomfort when we sit in the space designed and set aside for the sake of HIS name and love him in patient intentionality?  Why does it somehow become wrong to move carefully and gently through prayers, music, scripture, testimony, psalms and spiritual songs?  What is the real reason we come together?  Why are we doing what we are doing if what we are doing is not about loving HIM?

Will there be separate places of worship in Heaven?  I can’t find that.   All I see is that all of creation in heaven, on earth, under the earth come into agreement in extravagant lavish love throwing down crowns, singing, falling prostrate, adoring, and refusing to be without him.  If Jesus said his desire was that the will of the Kingdom of His Father would be made manifest in the Earth, and it is Heaven’s will to give praise, and adoration to the Son why can’t we agree with Him, and love Him by waiting on him?

One of the scriptures that causes me to ache often, is that of Mat 26:38:

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Ahh, but because they fell asleep, and they didn’t stand, tarry, wait, watch, linger, worship, pray, kneel, commune, remain, dwell….with him, I think we have lost something of what it really means when our Savior asks us to wait for/with him.  We fell asleep and lost the definition according to passion of our Bridegroom’s heart.  Perhaps that is why when he rose, he commanded them to wait, tarry, stand, pray, remain in community together, until the Holy Spirit was given in fire, and power and unction.  It would be the Holy Spirit who would teach them how to wait, how to hear.  But, the Holy Spirit, the Ruach Ha’Kodesh…yeah…he is unpredictable and undefinable, and unrelenting, he is…unsafe.

So we say he is welcome in our midst, to have his way and sing his song, and love through us, until it becomes uncomfortable and moves us out of what is the standard operating procedure in our sacred spaces dedicated to worship.  Then, we call that disorder and chaos and we can not receive or embrace the vessels or their worship and we turn away from the dancing king…perhaps, that is why we have been barren as a church, for so very long.

2Sa 6:20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
2Sa 6:21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD.
2Sa 6:22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.
2Sa 6:23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

 dance20of20grace

Staring At The Dirt

Today has been a day of water.  Water in the form of torrential down pour, hail, sleet, snow flurries and misty wet wind. With this water comes mud.  I hate mud. I am surrounded by it. Everywhere I look it has either been tracked in, or clings to  shoes, fur, coats, pants.  It covers the driveway, and the yard and you can’t glance outside and not see it.  Gone is the blanket of white hiding the dirt. Now is the season where you have to look at dirt.  Wet, sticky, heavy, clingy, odorous….dirt.

I don’t find it a coincidence that today has overwhelmed me with water and dirt, as today is also  Maundy Thursday.  This day of Holy Week we celebrate the remembrance of the Last Supper.  We remember the Savior’s aching plea to observe and remember.  His powerful demonstration of service when he laid aside his rabbinical robes and donned the garb of the servant…a towel, and poured water into a basin and washed the dirt from off the feet of his disciples.

John 13:3-5  Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus, from his secure place in the Father’s love, humbled himself as a lowly servant and looked at the dirt on his disciples feet.  He didn’t just stare.  He didn’t point out who had the dirtiest feet, he didn’t comment on nail fungus or callouses,  he poured water, and touched them, and wiped them clean.

What a lesson for ministers of  SoulCare-are we washing from a place of identity that is securely fastened in the love of the Father?  Do we know deeply whose we are, and where we are heading before we pick up the towel?  Have we seen our Savior wash our own dirty feet,  before we ever dare to look at the dirt of another?  The dirt of the journey through this broken world that clings to the peace of the wounded bringing them shame, and the inability to move freely. The dirt that dries like concrete, and rips the skin off when bumped too harshly.

Jesus didn’t use a scrub brush.  Jesus didn’t stare at the dirt.  He saw the heart under the sandals he unlatched.  He wasn’t moved by the dirt, because he himself was the living water, the walking pool of Bethesda, the wine from the water at Canaan, the baptism of Jordan, the rock of water that followed the Hebrew children in the wilderness.  He is the river of life, no dirt can cling to the soul of the one who is washed by this eternal stream.

My prayer this (muddy) Thursday is this:  May we remember the washing as we gaze at the mud.  May we  allow our souls to be reminded of our identity in the Beloved.  May we lay aside any robes of entitlement and reach for the towel as we kneel before the sandals in our care.  jesus-washing-the-feet-calvin-carter

 

Heir To A Grave

I opened the official looking envelope from the county and stared at the title deed to the plot of ground where my mom is buried- I am heir to a grave.

The weight of this inheritance sat with me through the days as I pondered the necessity to prove ownership of my mom’s bones.  Would there ever be a time when someone would dispute my right to mourn my dead on the land purchased and titled?   There across the news the battles in the the Holy Land of who owns what places to put whose bones in blare across the screen. Riots over ancient sepulchers  seemed a bit close to home in my meditations this Holy week.

Bones.

Abraham’s petition to the sons of Heth:

Gen 23:4 “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”

Joseph’s Godfather like command:  “Carry my bones”

Gen 50:25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”

Even Jesus’s life evolved around the tomb.  The healing of the demoniac that lived among the tombs, the miracle of Lazarus, the care of Christ’s own bones.

Mat 27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.
Mat 27:58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.
Mat 27:59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud
Mat 27:60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

Joseph had title to his own tomb, and laid another man in it. A man who would not stay dead.  Who would not leave his bones in a borrowed tomb.

Seed.

1Co 15:36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
1Co 15:37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
1Co 15:38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

I know my Mother and Father will experience a resurrected body. I am strangely comforted by the fact that they will rise together and experience transformation together. In life they strove to grow as a couple, to be intentional in “doing” life together.  What greater satisfaction can there be than to have the one your soul is knit to, and cleaved to experience the most dramatic physical transformation with you that there will be?  I have pondered how they cared for the dieing kernel of each other’s earthly bodies often with despair and frustration. I think of the days that we sang them and  sowed them back into the Earth they came from.  I look towards THE DAY when the ONE who is the first born from the dead will give their mortal bodies a new life, a new form, and the rejoicing there will be when what was once sickly, and weak, knows resurrected life.

So, I close the envelope and place it with the other important papers that define life and I know that death is not the end for those who believe.  It is only a seed. falling into the ground, shedding it’s kernel, only to be called again into the eternal life giving purpose for which it was created.

1Jn 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

I thank God, that Jesus had bones. tomb-2

 

 

 

 

God Came Cold-Old Smoke pt 3

God came cold on Valentines Sunday to the Preacher’s church. The sister found him curled up in the February frost in front of the doors to the sanctuary-he’d been there all night.  She called the Preacher and the Preacher called the Gardener, and we looked at each other and knew…”Old Smoke.”

The Gardener hurried to shower and dress turning to me with his hand on the door his steel blue eyes pierced me with their intentionality.

“We have to be very careful with this.  I’m telling you, this is a gift from God today, and how we handle this is going to make all the difference…you know?”

I smiled and lowered my eyes, “oh, I know, it is more than just a homeless man on the steps of our church…this is GOD, I’ll be right behind you! ” The Gardener smiled and nodded and raced off the mountain into the valley to be there to care for God in disguise.  Like Abraham rushed to attend the mysterious guests on that dusty afternoon where the fate of a city hung in the balance,  we found ourselves rushing to be present to the need of love that left itself at our doors. Several times I had to let my foot off the accelerator as I traveled the windy gravel road to town.

“Why am I speeding?” I mumbled to myself with a shake of the head as I crested the hill that overlooks the valley and began my decent. As I gazed at the spring mist filling the valley floor, and pondered my need to rush to church, the presence of love filled my truck and a tender voice whispered to my heart-

“Because, love compels.”

I wept. This is what it feels like?  This is what love does to you when you know who you are really serving, giving, caring for?  This is what it feels like to have your feet racing to do good?  Love compels the heart to give all it has, all the time, in every situation.  Love compels the extra mile, the only cloak, the humble turning of the smitten cheek. Love compels the cross.

I threw the truck in park and rushed into the sanctuary only to find The Sister weeping gently in quiet attendance to the man sleeping in the chair.  She had offered him a cup of coffee and a roll, wrapped him in her soft blanket and set him next to the fireplace, where he promptly fell asleep.

“This old man, was someone’s baby boy.  I want to hold him, and tell him it is going to be ok. Is that crazy?”  She choked out the whispered words, her hands trembling with compelling love.

“No, it’s not crazy”  I whispered back through my own tears, “You see, this is God, this is our Valentine gift from Heaven.  We get to love the least of these well today.”

We nodded, and wept and tucked him in a little closer to the fire, and waited to see what the congregation would think of God.

India Daily Life

We Are All Just Squatters-

You know how everyone is always telling you to listen for God in the everyday?  You know in the grandeur of a sunset, the promise of a sunrise, the awe of a storm, the gentle whisper after the rain?  Well, the other day, I got yelled at by the chicken lady.  She waved her arms and shook her stick at me as I maneuvered past her hundred chickens trying to cross the road.

“Slow DOWN!”

I wasn’t driving fast, the chickens were just walking slow.

They say she is just squatting there, that she doesn’t really own the place, she is carving out a life off the grid from an abandoned trailer and an old camper, a dog on a chain and at least a hundred chickens.  It must be like Easter every day come egg collecting time.   She held off the wild fire this summer, and refused to leave her plot of earth.  Brave, or   desperate?  I smile politely waving at her angry face and chuckling at the chicken jokes in my head when it hit me.  God just yelled at me in the face of the chicken lady.

“Slow…Down!”

I have been on the run lately, finding it much easier to busy myself with stuff, and plans and doing, than to sit quietly in my sorrow and learn how to walk in the empty spaces.  I took a deep breath and told myself the truth.

“You have lost both of your parents in a matter of months, you have permission to grieve.  You can’t run from this.”

The tears came then as I felt the weight of their absence and the weight of my existence.  The longing to share moments, and jokes, and how Dad would love the chicken lady.   I could hear the Holy Spirit nudge me to re-examine the encounter.   We are all just squatters here really. The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and this is not our home, not really.  We may be brave and we may be desperate but we are all looking for the eternal city where  The Lamb is the light.    Mom and Dad are citizens finally.  No longer wanderers in a world full of hardships, toil, and lack.  It is my time to sojourn and leave the plots of earth better than the abandoned wrecks I found them.  I am to make my space matter in the moments of Earth time I am given.  Love carries on.  Nothing else.

I am the squatter now, herding my chickens off the road so some clueless motorist doesn’t smack them with the front end of their vehicle while driving blindly past a lesson from God.

6a01156faa621f970c015436f534e6970c