Well-Aged With Season

As with last week’s post, I’m going back through a handful of pieces I’ve written in recent years, but never published. I’m amazed sometimes at the things God once taught me but slipped to faint and distant memory. I hope this touches you today. 

“Be careful, parents! One day the little ones whose diapers you’re changing will be changing yours!”

I heard that humorous warning about aging in a sermon once. I don’t recall the rest of the lesson at all. That line was so catchy, I kind of got stuck there. But recently, the gravity and art of aging has intrigued me.

Maybe it’s because my refrigerator is camouflaged in pictures of my nieces and nephews. Kylie, the oldest, isn’t quite three; baby Acelynn hasn’t even had her first birthday. Right alongside images of first steps, yogurt-smeared chins and sparkly, wide eyes, is a photo of my grandmother. She turned 91 this year.

Granddad died a few years ago. Since then, almost spry as ever, she has lived alone a few hours from my parents’ house. The only signs of her age are fading hearing, a tremor when she tries to hold her head perfectly still and she walks a bit slower than she used to.

Or maybe, I’m contemplating these seasons of life because I volunteer doing pet therapy with hospice patients. I heard of a man who recently decided he’d like a visit. It took them months to convince him he would benefit from a few hours with a dog. Stubborn, he kept telling his son and nurses that he wants his own dog, not simply a visitor. He knows what they say is true, that it wouldn’t be fair to the dog. He’s too old and ill to care for it properly. He may not live much longer and then who would take care of his furry best friend? Brave and I will meet Mr. Thurston next week for the first time.

Or maybe it’s because a few weeks ago Brave and I attended a grief camp for children who have lost a loved one in the last two years. However unfair, they were thrust into an unexpected season, one with a stark awareness of death. For many of them, the loss will mean a drastic change in their lifestyle. Who will tuck me in at night?

I might be thinking about birth, aging and dying, youth and the elderly, old and new because a friend just told me that he and his wife are finishing their basement so that his father can move in with them. It’s only been a few short years since they tenderly cared for his mother in her final days.

Whatever the reason, the seasons of life are turning in my head. But it’s much more than a solemn observation of finite lives. It’s more of an interest in how these season change us, not just our appearances and abilities, but change the way we live our lives. Passing years change our lifestyles, our priorities, our waking thoughts and unremembered dreams.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

It’s not surprising that Paul includes that sentence in, “The Love Chapter”. The most important way that time changes us, that age matures us, that the end sobers us, is that we fall more in love with the timeless. Time as we know it nears its finale, and our attention is swept up by the eternal. Our love shifts to things of an infinite nature—the promises of our Creator, the surety of seeing His face, the eternal spirits of our loved ones. Our lives necessarily change to accommodate these newly found truths.

Our bodies slow down as God allows age to limit our lifestyle, to force us to take closer, longer looks at what really matters. It is in the slowness, even the stillness, that we know He is God. And in that knowing, we are so much closer to all we’ve ever hoped for–to be fully real, fully known and fully loved.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

When Seasons Collide

Dead leaves on bench

It’s the collision of the seasons.

Here I stand on the precipice of my favorite season–autumn. Summer is merging with colder air, the leaves are giving up their green and their death grip on brittle branches. I’ve already broken out the jeans (still paired with flip flops), and I’m reticent to recall shorts.

All this exquisite splendor is the harbinger of time well spent with loved ones and favorite people in front of the fireplace, with a good book, cuddled on the couch, over a good cup of coffee (or a deliciously dark beer!)

And so, my soul is singing with anticipation, but I’m sad too, my heart is a little wounded and my hopes are fragile. It’s strange for me, this mix of opposing feelings. But I suppose it’s good–that tears are mitigated by laughter and disappointment with excitement. 

I’m not sure how much time I’ll get to spend with my husband this fall. Yes, last year about this time he was leaving for Africa, so count my blessings (more on that later) he’s safe here in the states. But, we have suddenly launched into a season of such intense training and planning that I scarcely see him for a half hour a day. And waiting in the wings are a few weeks where they will work straight through the weekends–at least 21 days in a row.

And this sadness, I might have shared earlier, but I wasn’t ready–a couple months ago, I miscarried the baby my husband I never thought we could never have.

We never planned or risked the hope of getting pregnant. So when we learned in late July (with utter shock!) that I was expecting, we were floored. Just as surprising was the joy that overtook us! We couldn’t wait to hold our baby! But that wasn’t God’s plan. Somehow, our little one lived a purposeful life, and filled the purpose of his life in just 11 short weeks.

We survived that.

But now, the pain is refreshed each month. We’ve dared to think we can try now. We’ve dared to step into the realm of miracles only God can do–and to hope. And that’s scary.

So, as you can see, my emotions (fragile as they are), are swirling like the autumn leaves shimmying to the ground. And it’s tempting to complain to God–a lot. It’s easy right now, to form all “prayer requests” around the little phrase, “God please!!”

God, please give us a baby. God please give us more time together. God please give my husband a day off. God please help me to be kind and compassionate and understanding …

You know, I think all that is okay. Today I was scrounging for peace–the peace that God promises in Philippians when we present our requests to God:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

And suddenly, it dawned on me. There were prerequisites for that peace. I’ve met one prerequisite by simply praying, the second one is harder–with thanksgiving. 

I can’t have this unbelievable peace as long as my prayers sound like whiny pleas. Of course, I still believe God will answer those prayers, but I’m sabotaging my own peace if I insist on whimpering and repelling His peace with self-imposed anxiety, even as I pray. My attitude, even my emotions, is my responsibility.

So, I changed my prayer:

God, thank you for your marvelous plan of blessing and deepening our marriage in this season. Thank you for balancing the sorrow of this season with nature’s beauty. Thank you for giving us a baby, for making us parents. Thank you for teaching me your own faithfulness through pain. Thank you. Yes, thank you.

Nature Sings of God’s Handiwork

by: Billie Jo Youman’s

Do you see God’s handiwork as you look around our world? It is there! His attributes, like a fingerprint, appear throughout the universe. Learning to see God in the world around us brings amazing possibilities because the natural reveals the spiritual.

How about this for a worship reminder: the universe actually sings all the time! We notice the birds and sometimes the wind, but there is continual praise. Enjoy this video that allows us to sing alongside creation …

Read the rest of this lovely post on The Bottom Line. 

Chastened by God

Okay, maybe that sounds a little strong, but as I read Billie Jo’s post on The Bottom Line, I felt chastened by God. The best part though, is that the chastening proves how personal God is. He’s always aware of my heart, always speaking, always knowing.

Proof positive, here’s a direct quote from my journal on Monday:

“Beloved One, do not count my snow a curse–not even an inconvenience. Surrender to it. Drink its beauty. It will not last forever–like another, rarely seen facet of my personality, how I interact with my children. Recall Eden? The edict of rest, the imposed seasons from the very beginning? Isn’t the accumulation amazing? Even I am thrilled and pleased with how the tiniest freckles of winter can quickly swallow the landscape, disguising stumps and veiling steps and holes. Give me thanks in all things, my daughter!”

And then … I read this:
Exchange Winter Weariness for Crystal Treasures

Intoxicating

barbed-wire-on-a-stormy-day-1117143-mHow good of you Lord, to wrap another day
In pre-storm quiet and low-hung gray.
Sweet, tingly scent of fresh-cut grass
Hangs lazy, expectant in the air.
Silence pierced as with tiny holes,
By bird-song here and there.

The air is due for washing,
Pollen latent, clings to walls and walks where,
In minutes or hours, pure rain
Will leave them clean and bare.

How Good is God–Creator God!
To mold the world for me!
And add the redbud highlights as far as I can see.
Intoxicating beauty, I try to hold my breath,
And wish, as Joshua, “Sun stand still”,
Let worship resound in me!

In kind deference, God gifted me this world
While cold and undeserving my fists still clenched and curled.
But in this gift so undeserved,
He radiates Himself,
In quiet, sweetness, and cleansing rain.

Right here I’ve come to know Him,
Right here to understand,
The vastness of His love for me,
The perfection of His plan.

My soul awakes, revives to sing,
My fists loosen and relax.
For here within His goodness
Drunken by His beauty,
Mesmerized by love…

I give with abandon all I have
So frail compared to this.
But in all He has, He only wants–what I alone can give:
My trust, my faith, surrender,
My life to largest hands,
The ones who sculpted all this world,
This intoxicating land.

On a Monday

imagesDamp clouds hug the earth.

Early rains,

Press their cheek to mud and clay.

And lift to leave the stain of

Sun kisses,

Daffodils

Hail Spring!

Cherry Blossoms

Hail Spring!

Stubborn, purple headed weeds,

Hail Spring!

Banish the winter!

Postpone the heat!

Driven by springs insatiable beat,

I begin to itch from inside-out.

Infected.

This fever a contagious malady

Soothed only by spring’s

Cool, soft, damp melody.

Morning clouds hug me close,

Press your dewy brow to mine.

Sun, plant your lips delicate, fine,

To my cheeks.

Obvious

For an obvious reason
My heart is weighty with your praise.
Obvious as the icy rain that
hangs frozen in mid-air.
Obvious as the durable, quiet man upstairs
(between my sheets.)
Obvious as the smallish mongrel who insists
to share my seat.
Obvious as that blest morning aroma,
Perfume of homes worldwide.
My own tamed with milk,
thin brim of foam.
Obvious as its porcelain cup,
“I love you,” on its side.
Obvious as the three faint lamps
Lending softness as they provide
My eyes with visions of your word
And highlight pen to page.
So here I scrawl my meager words,
Slight as they may be.
To altar the obvious praises
Of my perfect, worthy King.

My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. Ps. 145:1b

Life by the seasons

Days of ink pens and spirals past.

Blue books, tuition rates, lectures and halls.

For 10 long Septembers, a study-less fall.

Fall makes demands, the crisp of the air.

“What are you doing with your life?”

Will you brighten up lives – like leaves to the floor?

Or comfort sad souls like soups and wreathed doors?

Will you be consistent like the turning of tides?

Winsome, patient and quiet as the moon?

Pleasing and warm as a fleshy, plump pumpkin?

Will you bring freshness to lives, like the chill in the air?

What will the season evoke?

Find a change.

Turn the season.

Drop your cloak,

And live brighter, fuller, clearer, closer.

Welcome September!

Believe it or not, here we are again – on the precipice of a new month. Actually, we just slipped over the edge a few days ago and find ourselves screaming through the final days of summer.

Fall isn’t so much a season in its own right as a transition with a name. I love that murky line between steamy days and crispy nights. I love the lingering green and encroaching brown. I love the refreshing promise fall holds. I love darker evenings, shorter days and first frosts. But change can leave you wondering what you missed in the moments that will never replay.

Did you play hard enough, rest long enough, spend plenty of time in the sun?

Courtesy of: http://boisdejasmin.com/2009/10

Did you finish house projects, take a father-daughter camping trip, lose the weight?
Did you do that Bible study, read your stack of books, visit your long-distance relatives?

If you didn’t “do it all” this summer, don’t despair. I sure didn’t scratch the surface of the privileges of pain, the potential of words, or the pleasure of poetry. So I’m going to keep going straight through September! Peering inquisitively into my pain, harnessing the power of my words and sometimes reigning in my tongue have been great lessons for me. They are broad brushes that color nearly every aspect of human life, leaving me with boundless questions and  an entire cannon of Scripture to ply for answers.

In honor of fall’s stealthy approach, I will change a few tiny things this month – like the first leaves to turn before cascading to the ground. On Mondays we will continue to look at the Privilege of Pain. I have a whole new perspective to consider – a medical application.

We will still celebrate Wordy Wednesdays. Ponder with me tough words like addiction. Wonder what’s in a name. Try to share Jesus without words. 

Friday will offer a little variety. I’ve been devouring a wonderful book called “In the Land of Blue Burqas,” by Kate McCord. In fact, it has fueled much of my thoughts on pain and how we use our language. I am honored to review various books for Moody Publishers, so on one particular Friday, I will entice  you to read this book.

Not that my opinion is to be over valued, but I want to share with you my thoughts on a couple other ministries and resources of truth as well. Truth is the only vaccine against or treatment for the Predatory Lies of this fallen world. And doubtless, my journal will be peppered with poetry prayers in September. I hope you don’t mind if I share them.

So there you have it! Happy September!