Monday, December 28, 2015

Never Say Never

2015 is all but in the archives now. In hindsight overview, if pressed to put a  single word descriptor on the file before relegating it to deep storage, I’d have to say that this past year was memorable for me for its DEFIANCE. 

I did things this year that I thought I’d never do again. 

This pattern launched on Christmas morning 2014. Having just put the Christmas breakfast casserole in the oven I took a break and as I began my descent into my favorite chair something snapped in my right knee and I could neither go up nor down. I yelled out and Ron came running to help me. I pretty much sat in that chair for the rest of the day. Everyone rallied and we still enjoyed our Christmas morning breakfast even with me ensconced.

Because Ron and I are both inveterate problem solvers, we collaborated on a makeshift splint to keep my knee immobile until I could get it diagnosed. Duct tape and a 12” length of 1X2 with corners that Ron had smoothed filled the bill initially. This eventually was refined to the board held in place by clear plastic shipping wrap which was not only non stick but also made it water proof making it possible for me to stand in the shower without help.

The day after Christmas I spent five hours in the ER and came home wrapped hip to ankle in a blue foam and Velcro strapped contraption. It was absurdly cumbersome and awkward. Immediately I returned to the simple, effective (and cheap) 1X2 and plastic wrap. Defiant! 

After some treatment, some therapy (that I refused to do at home) and time, I was finally able to move about normally again in a few weeks. Then, for some reason, that I cannot explain, in late January I was compelled to bring out my old puppet Mother Eartha and I started recording Mother Eartha Talks On videos. 

Most assuredly I never thought I’d do that again. Where did that come from? Was it subconscious defiance–to prove I could still squat and bend and contort underneath a puppet? 

Does that explain why I agreed to go with my family to the beach for a week in June? Me? The beach? I never thought I’d do that again. Ever. 

In October we became boat owners again. Me. On a boat. Really?

Also in October I pulled together some materials and built a nine foot art tree. Me. Creating large art again that required climbing a ladder. Good grief.

This time last year, given my disability and limited options, I would have laughed at anyone who would predict I’d do anything physical in 2015, let alone the things I did. The odds were truly not in my favor in my humble opinion.

They say, if you want to make God laugh, make plans. But I say, if you want to make God smile, ignore the odds...and trust that He can see you just do...
...and never say never.

Happy New Year!
For Him,

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Part I Like

I always have a moment when suddenly it occurs to me that my to-do list is accomplished and I can just enjoy all the little things that didn’t make it to the list, usually the week before Christmas, now that my Christmas Frenzy years are pretty much behind me and I can actually have a calm week before Christmas.

Like sending out beautiful animated e-cards to my peeps. Or sipping hot chocolate while typing out one more Christmas blog post. Lots of whipped cream on top.

Like ...

... singing along with the Christmas playlist.

... putting my last $20 in the Salvation Army Kettle.

... thinking about putting together one more Mother Eartha story for the grandkids because there’s time. Or not.

... thinking about pulling out my old guitar and trying out an old song. Or not.

... remembering Christmas’s past and how very difficult they were sometimes - for different reasons -  but we still made it to the part like in How The Grinch Stole Christmas where all the citizens of Whoville gathered around the tree and celebrated Christmas anyway because... isn’t about the presents, the lights, the activities, the magic, the food, the hoopla.

It’s about Christ coming to save us from ourselves. 

So the best part about Christmas is Christ. No frenzy, traditions, obligations, to-do lists or removing Christ from the day we celebrate his birth, or vilifying/outlawing the reason for the season can change this. Ever. 

This is a moment we can keep in our hearts and not even the Grinch or thought police can stop it. I do love that!

Have a blessed Christmas,


Friday, December 11, 2015


Dear hearts, in this hard season, where our faith is being sorely tested, there is one foundational truth that can see us through. So hold on.

(Luke 2:8-14) And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.  And this [is] the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.  

Angels We Have Heard on High 
The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens and David Archuleta

Merry Christmas,

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Fires by Trial

In an age where ‘feelings’ are more valued than ‘knowledge’ the smallest amount of trouble leaves us unprepared and vulnerable, unable to stand against the winds of adversity because our focus is inward and backward not outward and forward. 

Recently a season of difficultly has brought home a tough lesson to me that when tribulation is the new normal, thanksgiving and praise should be the first response. 

This morning reading the daily devotional that I receive from T. Austin Sparks, I could not help but note the confirmation. 

I thought it appropriate to share it here. 

For Him,
November 29

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. (John 1:16 NIV)

When the Lord has blessed and prospered, how many people have not themselves become something? Here is a successful movement! Here is my chance! There is a laying hold of that work, and a turning of it to personal account. That is the history of things. The most dangerous time for the work of God is the time of blessing. You will always find people coming in when there is blessing, not because they have God's end in view, but because a realm of blessing means personal good.... The Lord is calling us on to the fullness of Christ, and sometimes on the way He may let us see the working of His power, that He is with us. 

The world may be against us, the devil may be withstanding, and the Lord lets us see in some little way that He is with us. And then alongside of that there comes the most awful peril, in that we snap our fingers at everything and everybody, and at the devil himself. We are supported by the Lord in the position we have taken! We are vindicated! That is a perilous position. The Lord may have to say, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven! Do not find any personal gratification in the fact that the demons are subject unto you!" It is all in the same realm as glorying in a wrong way in the blessings of the Lord. We have to go on steadily, and take our encouragements when they come, thank the Lord quietly for them, and get on with the main business, not staying to gloat over the fruits of the Lord's blessing in a personal way.

There is a great deal of ground covered by that. It is often a source of so much gratification if only you can tell people of the success that is coming to you in the work of the Lord, how many people are coming, how many souls are being saved, how you are being used, how the Lord's seal is upon you. All unconsciously we take hold of the honor for our own flesh. 

The Lord has to hide so much from us, because it is dangerous for us; our flesh makes it dangerous. We shall be tried by blessing as well as by adversity. The keenest fires of trial are often those of success or prosperity. Such tests discover whether our hearts are fixed upon the Lord or upon things. [emphasis mine]

By T. Austin-Sparks from: Partnership with Christ - Chapter 2 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Grateful for...

...old things that never change and are always dependable.

My daughter came flying in, hair on fire. She needed the spare car key I keep for her. It’s a modern key that’s not really a key but a ‘fob’ that miraculously opens and starts her car. It’s the latest ‘modern’ invention, designed for ultimate convenience. Keyless Entry they call it. Keyless. Convenient. Mindless. Right.

I hate to be an old fogie naysayer but it’s not really a miracle of modern ingenuity. It’s just yet another thing that depends on a battery that can and will go dead. You can count on that for sure. One can never know when this might occur either. One might be in desperate need to get somewhere and find the keyless key does not work. One might get somewhere just fine and then return to the car only to find that the miraculous, convenient keyless entry system has failed and leaves one stranded for the lack of a tiny battery.

We had a discussion about this. I told her my views on mindless modern innovation. She ever so gently reminded me that I am an old-timer and I need to step into the modern world. She left to go find a battery and I sat quietly counting all the cars I’ve owned and the keys that always worked and never once failed me, unless I misplaced them. But keyless keys can be misplaced as well, you know. Which explains why I am the keeper of my daughter’s spare keyless key.

That got me thinking about other things that have been kicked to the curb for the sake of newness. Things that just work being replaced with things that work until they don’t–usually at the most inconvenient time. Why does that make sense?

We’ve been slowly boiled over the decades, conditioned to believe that new is always better. That things should never be allowed to just continue on and work, for pete’s sake! Some of this conditioning began with the diabolical concepts of ‘planned obsolescence’ and ‘disposable’. The mighty god of commerce figured out that people buy more things and replace what they have sooner when things break and run out of power because mass production made it cheaper to replace something than to repair it. Over time the landfills, burdened with the remains of so much disposable invention, launched a great need for a fabulous ‘new’ concept - reusable/recyclable. 

Regardless the trends, at the root of it all we’ve been shaped and reshaped to believe that old is anathema–new and ‘improved’ is the only way to do things. 


Fifty plus years ago I took two very difficult to acquire dollars and purchased a Goody hair cutting tool. No batteries needed, just a pink handle that holds a double-edged razor. As usual I had no money so I could not afford to have someone else cut my hair, and as usual, I taught myself, using the pink razor cutter. At the time, razor cutting was the rage. And, of course, the trend faded and blunt cutting became the new style. The beauty schools stopped teaching razor cutting for several decades (until it came back into vogue). But regardless of trend and style I carried on, cutting my own hair, doing my own thing. As usual.

Recently someone complimented me on my hair style and asked who cuts my hair. I just smiled and replied that I cut it myself. This has happened before and the usual response, in elevated pitch,“You cut your own hair?!” I never get over the shock that I might know how to do such a thing. And my pat reply that helps them get over the incredulity is always, “Well, I’ve been cutting my own hair for more than fifty years so those who would know how to cut my hair the way I like it are either retired or dead.” 

[Cue laughter]

While that might be funny, here’s the serious point. I am grateful for things that work, even and especially if they are old. Things that only require that my brain be engaged, which, incidentally, means I am grateful that my brain is still working even if not at full capacity. 

Every single day I am grateful for the things I know I can count on–for all the things that have and will never fail me. Love of family, genuine friendship, and the Truth of the Word. 

Most of all I am grateful for God’s unfathomable love and patience. We need this old reliable truth more than ever now.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For Him,
Meema fifty years I’ve only replaced the two edged razor about five times. That’s once a decade. Want to argue with that?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


When I mentioned to my friend that I was pulling together materials to create a soft sculptured tree, she replied that the thought made her chuckle. She recalled a time long ago when, as a child, she told her father that “only God could make a tree”. 

And, yes, while that’s a true statement, it’s really more than simply true. It speaks to the human condition of desperately desiring to be our own god or at the least, bringing God down to our level. Since human nature can never mature, this never changes. The Tower of Babble is an ancient classic example of humans believing they could build their own greatness. 

And because of infinite grace, God smiles at the idea, until He stops smiling. That’s when humans find out just how ungreat they really are; how truly small and flawed. The Tower came down and humans were scattered and left unable to communicate with each other. That’s how that ended. Apparently the lesson didn’t hang in very long because we just keep on trying to get to heaven by our own devisings. 

As I began to put the materials together into my facsimile tree it occurred to me how representative it was. For all our intelligence and inventiveness, humans are intrinsically small and flawed. We hustle and fill our days with our all important busyness and striving to build our lives into a form of significance. We carefully craft our beliefs to conform to our own reasonings, with the tools of our own interpretations of what and who God is. Of what truth ought to be. Of where Heaven is. And in so doing we end up with a nicely created facsimile of God. One we can more easily understand. One that we can mold with our hands rather than submit to the other way around. 

But no matter how we build our mighty towers and admire and depend on the wisdom of our own interpretations, ultimately, it comes to this–only God can make a tree. Regardless of our abundant arrogance we can’t even come close. No matter how clever and creative we think we are. 

And God smiles at all the silliness. Until He stops.

For Him,

(Romans 9:20) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus?  (9:21) Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?  (9:22) What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction:  (9:23) and that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he afore prepared unto glory,  (9:24) [even] us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles?   

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Estate Sale

My daughter purchased a leather chair at an estate sale. She was thrilled with her bargain but she also described how strange it was to walk through a house with other strangers picking over the bones of what was once someone’s home and beloved possessions, at last coldly devalued to nothing more than nickels and dimes. 

Her experience reminded me of an estate sale I once experienced myself fifteen years ago. I had to write about it, of course, and I eventually added it to my book I Was Just Thinking.

Interesting how a mere decade and a half doesn’t sound all that long when put in the context of a lifetime but in retrospect it is a very long time when you note the changes that can happen in that length of time–the children all grown up, the middle years turned to aged. So much change. Not even funny.

So, I decided to revisit that old essay because that time, that walk through the last visible remains of someone else’s life, is even more poignant and meaningful to me now - fifteen years hence.

For Him,


It was clean sheets day. I opened the linen closet and discovered my blankets, extra pillows and some sheets strewn about the floor. It was a linen wreck.  I smiled. Not a normal reaction, you say, stumbling upon such a mess? Everything is relative. I'll show you.

I don't know what made me stop. The sign was small and handwritten. It said, ESTATE SALE TODAY.  I don't usually do garage sales. Perhaps it is because I already have more than enough junk in my own garage, why do I need someone else's? But I was compelled to follow the little signs to a well-groomed older neighborhood, graciously lined with mature trees, and pulled up in front of a pristine brick ranch. Obviously once well-loved and well-lived in, it suffered quietly, enduring the indignities of being invaded by the footfalls of prying strangers.

More little signs directed me to enter through the back gate. I noted the landscaping. It takes years to build gardens and to have lush lilac bushes, camellias and thick mondo grass lining the beds and walkways. Years of tending and caring were evident at every turn. Once inside the gate I found lattice trellises engulfed in ever-blooming roses. Someone must have really loved this place, I thought.

I entered the back door and became just one more intruder into a space that was obviously once a busy private home but was now a market place exposed to the buying public. In the kitchen the drawers and cabinets were pulled opened for full viewing. Plates, cups, bowls, pots, pans, silverware, good, still usable things but sadly no longer needed by the owner. On the wall next to the sink, there was a rack full of collectable state demitasse spoons, mementoes of forgotten vacations probably spanning decades. 

On the window ledge a drooping potted plant, desperate for water, sat next to a ceramic mug that proclaimed that the user was the Best Dad In the World.  Down the hall and in the den, framed happy faces on the walls beamed back with convincing smiles, old and young, successfully masking average family life, the good, the bad and the ugly. They contributed to the uneasy feeling that ghosts were watching every move I made.

I wandered through the rooms, one at a time, cognizant that the furniture was once carefully chosen and the drapes special ordered to match the carpet. Looking around at the material goods that remained like silent testimonies to the people who had until sometime recently lived and loved there, I was struck by the enigma of it all. It was all worth something once, all those things, but what was painfully evident was that the worth of it was only relative to what I call the Human Factor.

Granted there are wonderful things that exist well past the original owner. Museums and monuments attest to this. Designated value is often greater for a work of art when the artist and successive owners are long dead. But ordinary things, the stuff of our daily lives, the stuff we work so hard to accumulate, and use everyday, lose their intrinsic significance the minute we can no longer use them. They have no real value except as interpreted by human need of them.

So, one has to wonder why we attach so much importance to our stuff? We fret over stains and marks and dings and tears. We fuss at our kids for scratches and the wear and tear of daily living. We make big deals over the things that have no true worth in and of themselves. And yet we collect, save and protect them, spending incalculable sums insuring them against damage and theft.  We even identify ourselves with and by our things.

The last space I examined before I left the estate sale was the linen closet. Neatly stacked, perfectly matched sheet sets and carefully folded blankets sat waiting patiently for someone to use them. I could imagine the clean sheet days in this house. Freshly laundered linens stretched onto beds by the loving hands of the one who washed and dried and wrestled with the folding of them.  But without a doubt it was the love in the using them that mattered, not the clean sheets themselves.

The day I opened my own linen closet and saw that my granddaughters had been playing in there, I smiled because I remembered the linens waiting uselessly in the house that no longer mattered. I knew instantly what did matter, though, was the love I share with my granddaughters, not the chaos they made out of my linen closet.

I know what you are thinking, children need to learn how to respect stuff and clean up after themselves. Well, my answer to that is that children also need an oasis from the riggers of learning. Sometimes they need to feel comfortable and not have to look over their shoulders waiting for more instructions on how to behave and how to be.

Messes can be cleaned up. One day, my linen closet doors might be flung open for viewing, everything, efficiently folded, waiting to be used, bought or thrown away.  Who will remember my sheets or how tidy my linen closet was? However, I would bet dollars to donuts that the girls will forever remember playing in my linens and not getting yelled at for it. That's the Human Factor thingy again.

What I learned at the estate sale is that which is truly priceless is rarely tangible.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Missed Opportunities

You know, there is so much suffering going on right now, even if I dared to have a light moment I’d feel guilty for it. 

Yesterday I took my husband’s company car to have the oil changed. The guy who took the car, said, as he slid into the driver’s seat, “I learned today I have no neck, my vertebrae are all messed up.” It was such an odd moment for me. I’m not usually the one folks tell their stories to. That’s always been my younger daughter’s mantle. 

So, I asked him why and he said that he used to be a professional boxer and it messed him up. He didn’t seem to be looking for sympathy, I can usually spot that kind of thing. He just wanted to tell me. I asked him what he was going to do. He said they want to do surgery but he didn’t want to. I said I knew someone who had to have the vertebrae in his neck fused. Then he told me his 13 year old daughter had a 54% curvature in her spine and had to have two rods put in her back. 

It hit me how easy it is to feel oppressed and discouraged by our own circumstances. No matter how bad things might be for us, someone else’s problems can be worse. Gives one an opportunity to say, “there but for the grace of God go I.” 

The other (greater) opportunity in the moment was to tell the man I would pray for his circumstances. But I didn't say it. Though I am praying for him, I didn't tell him and I regret that missed chance. My only excuse is my hermit habit. I have always been overly reserved about speaking to strangers about my faith. I can write about it but I'm not good at talking about it unless the other person indicates they are going to know what I am talking about. 

I guess I need to work on that.

While I was typing this, a brilliant sunrise filled the sky with pink and golden clouds. No matter how tough things are, He gives us a new day to fight the fight before us. To recognize and step up to other opportunities. God is so good. I am grateful.

Now I'm writing about it to make up for yesterday’s missed opportunity.

For Him,


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Here's Why

On Wednesday morning, during my quiet time with God, just finishing up Proverbs, a question formed in my head. It’s not as though I have never asked the question in one form or another many times before but this time, somewhat older and by default wiser, a clearer answer came. Some folks refer to this as the Lord speaking to them. I refrain from labeling it that way because without a strong, mature knowledge of how God speaks to us through the Spirit it sounds arrogant. Somehow. But that’s just me. 

Nevertheless, this is how He speaks to me, when I am ready to hear. Time after time, it’s usually the simplest answer possible. Humans keep trying to make walking with Christ so hard, so complex, so bound by religious law and definable only by the highly trained and credentialed. But even Christ said that His yoke was easy. Pretty clear, that. Not sure how it got off track from EASY.

I mulled over the answer to my question the rest of the day and into the next. On Thursday, I made a trip to Costco and paused in front of a stack of books. First title I laid eyes on was Accused by Tonya Craft. It’s the true story of a woman who prevailed against the most heinous accusations possible - child molestation. Not sure why but I put it in my basket. 

On Friday, I had the whole day to myself, with nothing on the schedule, husband out of town, so I sat and read all 405 pages. From cover to cover. The sun was shining when I began and was long set when I finished. That the unique circumstances came together to allow this marathon read did not escape me. Whenever God is trying to get through to me, He always sends confirmation in the most unusual way. 

Tonya Craft, a gifted, well-liked kindergarten teacher in a small town in Catoosa County, Georgia, on the first day of summer break, May 29, 2008, gathering her two children and a friend to head to the first swim of the summer, opened her door to two detectives. Her life from that moment forward for the next two years was an unimaginable trial of faith. First accused of molesting two girls, over time she was also accused of molesting even her own six year old daughter. 

Told in first person, the story, nightmare actually, takes the reader in real time into the depths of grief, fear and disbelief that Tonya experienced and compels the reader to consider how easy it would be for anyone to face such a tribulation. Accusations are so easy. Guilty until proven innocent, everything was taken from her. Her job, her children, her reputation, her life as she had known it. 

On the inside of the dust cover the last paragraph states: “Accused is the first hand account of Tonya’s fight to clear her name and regain custody of her children. Her story shows us that, for the falsely accused in a flawed legal system, simply telling the truth isn’t enough.”

Tonya made two good decisions from the day her whole world fell apart to the day she was truly free again more than two years later. First, she determined not to roll over and let evil have its way. She fought back. Along the way she learned what was truly important in life and worth standing up for. Secondly, she learned, the only way to be free is to forgive. And so she did, eventually. But not in the middle of the fight. 

She pointed out that the forgiving stage was more for her children and her sake, not necessarily for those forgiven and this is the point then. Christians are lulled into believing that we don’t have to put up a fight. We must be meek and let the wolves ravish us. We are admonished to be victims. But that’s not what Scripture says.  

(2 Timothy 3:1-5) But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come.  (3:2) For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  (3:3) without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good,  (3:4) traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;  (3:5) holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away.  

And for those times when you cannot avoid or turn away from such people?

(Ephesians 6:12-13) For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].  (6:13) Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.  

Sometimes we must be still and let God do what we cannot do. And then sometimes we are called to get up and do. Learning the difference is part of maturing in the Spirit.

What Tonya Craft’s tale confirmed for me is the difference between cowering and succumbing to the forces of evil or choosing to do all, against the odds, and then stand. Just stand.

The question I asked on Wednesday was, “What is the point of tribulation?” “Why does God thrust us into the fiery trials?” 

And the answer is: Purpose. 

God does nothing without purpose. We may not know what the purpose is at the outset but we can be sure of one thing - there is good purpose. If we are called to trouble, and we respond with truly righteous intent, and not our own agenda, we can count on God taking us all the way through to the other side where the purpose waits for us.

Tonya Craft fought back, prayerfully paying attention to God’s prompts, even when it was counter to her legal team's advise, and ultimately found the purpose for all her life-altering trouble. 

For Him,

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Playhouse

Imagine it’s summer 1957. 

Even in the bright daylight it is dark in here but the eyes gradually become accustomed. Soon a hodgepodge of unrelated, discarded furniture comes into view. Rough wooden boxes occasionally sting and leave slivers in little fingers. There’s a faded yellow rocker, kid-sized, one man's trash, a ten year old's treasure rescued from the garbage collector. There’s an old Hollywood sofa bed. Brown and smelly. A lethal combination of dust and dog. The walls are raw but good for writing on. A name, a phone number. A primitive drawing. The ceiling is bare rafters. Great for suspending temporary fabric walls. Also great for harboring wasp colonies. 

A six foot ladder leans into the corner. The top becomes an entire second floor of a sprawling mansion. 

The movie star descends gracefully to the marble foyer and greets her guests. She laughs lightly and charms her way around the gracious ballroom astounding everyone with her wit and cleverness. The phone rings. She accepts devastating news. She excuses herself and retires to her quarters. A grand exit up the winding staircase.

A nice dramatic ending but not as compelling as... 

...the Princess imprisoned in the highest turret of the Giant's cold, dank castle. Her golden locks float easily around her shoulders like a silken mantle... [or a bunch of The Mom's old nylon stockings]. She looks longingly out of the window at the tree tops and the misty countryside. She does so need her Prince to come. She passes the time singing sad songs in the most beautiful voice ever known to man. She waits patiently perched for hours on the spot that reads: 


Arranging, rearranging. Ragged chairs, boxes, little broken tables. Make them fit the daydream. Work around the nasty burlap curtain that conceals the lawn mower but can't hold back the acrid odor of sour grass and gasoline. A concession with The Dad for the shared use of this space. 
Arranging and rearranging. The kitchen is a sagging little shelf suspended limply between two wall studs. Jars of tiny bits and pieces of collected things cling together on one end trying not to slide forward to sudden splintering on the rough concrete floor. An old linoleum surfaced counter top is a workspace for the amazing concoctions of grass and mud pies. 

A world renown chef humbly accepts the praise for her latest recipe for goulash. The secret ingredient is closely guarded. 

Faded crayon marks outline the remains of paths on the concrete floor. Trails through Candy Land. The ladder/mountain/staircase has dried whipped cream on its peak. Some wall studs bear red stripes, candy cane sentinels. 
The Candy Land Fairy Princess emerges from her sugar cottage a/k/a Amana refrigerator box that says: THIS SIDE UP. She sparkles and flutters about tending to all the little creatures of the forest. She is so wise and they love her so. She always has the answers. 

Except how to open the window which is always stuck. And the other one won't stay open without a stick to prop it. But it only matters in the summer months when the soaring temperature swells up the pine walls and makes the knots weep sticky, amber tears. In the heat, the pine sap and the gasoline fumes mingle and synergize into an explosive aroma. 

Outside, the concrete step-up runs the length of the front of the playhouse. A hopscotch grid is permanently etched into the surface. A good place to escape the oxygen deficient atmosphere. An old pine tree provides hit and miss shade to this spot in the afternoon. Lindy, the English girl, brings new games and great skill to this place. She also brings wonderful English books. Us Dogs is read uninterruptedly in the yellow upholstered rocker in one sitting. A sad ending. A new and painful experience full of sobbing, salty, last page tears and delicious desire to read more books. 

An idea! Other books. Gathered from everywhere. Old moldy books, paperbacks and new Readers Digest Condensed books. A library. 

The librarian is very strict. She is a rock. No noise allowed. No talking, no loud movements. This is a quiet place, a place for reflection and serious study. But an unfortunate incident. Something to do with the entire works of Mark Twain left in the yard. Rain. LIBRARY CLOSED. 

Books confiscated by The Mom. Back to the lone reader in the yellow upholstered rocker.

Chairs and tables and boxes in neat rows. A Blackboard. Students of all shapes and sizes and species. One is four-legged, spotted brown and white. She is dressed in a tee shirt and baby bonnet. This is not a happy student. She looks longingly backward towards the door. She has a plan but she is patient. 

The teacher begins class. She is brilliant. Math, English, History a little Geography. The teacher turns to write large chalky letters on the blackboard. The student sees her opening and escapes out the door barking wildly at some imagined hostile intruder.  Recess. 

Time to swing for a while on the tall swing set in the shadow of the playhouse. Great ideas are sometimes born here where the closest thing to independent flight is often attempted. Pumping and straining every muscle to toe touch the lowest branch on the world's largest pine tree. A tree held together with several pounds of ten penny nails. A little carpentry practice. The Dad always wondering where his nails disappear to. This tree is also keeper of the basketball hoop. No net. Many one-on-one games called HORSE with The Brother who always wins. Swinging higher and higher. This time, so high the chain relaxes at the top of the arc and there is a millisecond where gravity is defied. 

Recess over. Back to work. Star student hiding. Never mind. Arranging and rearranging. A boat. A hospital. A cave. A bank. Never-Never land. A home, but only in the daylight. No electricity. Too many dangerous fumes for candlelight. 

Dusk ends much more than just the day. There's tomorrow. Another day will dawn on this magic place that inspires exploration, expansion and rehearsal for all the possibilities. It is a parallel universe without limits or boundaries; no dimensions of height, width, or length. 

To open the wooden door and cross the threshold is not to enter this old shed, but rather to penetrate the heart and soul of a dreamer.

For Him,

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Time For Mettle

Regrettably I must admit I am resolved to the reality that this civilization has reached the tipping point that most great societies all eventually succumb to, historically speaking. It seems that prosperity and abundance is a delicate fruit that becomes toxic as it ages and then causes blindness, not unlike most good things that eventually spoils unless great care to preserve it has been applied. 

While it is encouraging to speak about what could be... if only... what actually is falls well within the patterns of what has been before. At the point of no return, the only hope is not hope in restoration but hope in the Divine Will that good has already won the war. It’s in the battles that have yet to be fought where mettle is called upon to rise to the challenge. The small battles and skirmishes with evil are often lost in the great ongoing war of good and evil. But faith cannot be destroyed in those who understand that it is often in the devastating losses where we find our peace and resolve.

To say that resolve is a form of acceptance of defeat does not address the strength of those who have seen the enemy and recognized that the enemy is us and have determined that the only way to find peace is in allowing peace to find us in the truth of what is happening in real time. 

Relief in the middle of adversity is within the silent comfort of faith. Faith does not change our circumstances but rather our attitude and how we operate within those circumstances. Are we paralyzed by fear or mobilized by bravery? Are we solution-oriented or defeatist? Are we victims without recourse? Or do we stand up for something higher and determine that it is better striving for right than living tyrannized by evil? Even if sometimes we must die in the standing?

Ultimately, faith is the antidote to fear. But faith that believes in that which it cannot see is not myopic; it is founded in knowing the difficult truth first.

Sometimes you need encouragement. You need to hear from someone or something, that can tell you what will help you get past, rise up, get out, move beyond–survive the moment somewhat intact. 

Sometimes you need gentle words, kind, uplifting philosophical building up words.

Sometimes you need to rest and, and as they say, to ‘let your soul breathe.’

Sometimes this is possible. Sometimes not.

Sometimes when the struggle, trouble, crisis, loss, threat, devastation is so profound your soul holds its breath and forgets how to exhale.

Sometimes the only way to kick start breathing again is to get slapped on the back with tough words, not soft pats. Drill sergeant words, “Get a grip soldier!” “Sink or swim!” 

And so there is a time for everything. A time to laugh, a time to weep. A time for shouting, a time for remaining silent. There is a season for good and sometimes for not so good. A time to be weak. A time for tapping into strength that can only come from Divine intervention and inspiration.

A time to muster the mettle you didn’t know you had.

For Him,

Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great things, and difficult, which thou knowest not. -Jeremiah 33:3

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fall From Grace

Isn’t it ironic that in the most liberal, self-centered, reprobated society since the days just prior to the fall of the Great Roman Empire, we are still able to have our sensibilities shocked. A collective gasp goes up when we hear that an iconic father figure is accused of multiple sexual assaults, or a family touted as the standard for Christian living has dark secrets revealed. We quickly withdraw our support of a TV or movie star when the news cycle du jour is captured by reports of misconduct, misstatements, and any behavior unbecoming of our idols. 

And thus we are the biggest hypocrites ever to populate the earth.

We are completely self-absorbed and yet we look down our noses at others who are self-absorbed. We think and speak ugly things in private and then are quick to vilify others who are caught speaking racist and/or other newly redefined anti-PC words. 

We think nothing of watching what would have not too long ago been labeled soft-porn broadcast into our living rooms at all hours. We might winch a little but we don’t turn it off. We blindly accept that a cartoon channel pumps out silly kid entertainment and so we don’t bother to watch or vet what is being fed to our children’s brains. 

We buy filthy books that are so wildly popular they are quickly converted into living action movies that promote the basest of human activity. We post our reviews online. 

And yet when a sport hero is accused of domestic violence, we furrow our brows and condemn him. We call for him to be fired, or at least penalized. We like our domestic violence to be the fictional kind. We can put up with it, let it into our psyche, get some kind of stimulation from it, but we don’t want our little tin gods actually doing it. In real life.

In much the same way we endorse, by default, promiscuity, infidelity and perversion. Yet we are incensed when we discover there is a website devoted to such activity that thousands subscribe to. We shake our heads in disgust even as we click through the channels on our TV where promiscuity, infidelity and perversion reign as commonplace. Even in commercials. 

We are aghast when we read headlines about aborted baby parts callously sold as commodity. We might try to soften the topic by rationalizing that it’s for the good of ‘science’ for advancing the cause of medicine. To save lives. Wait. To save lives? Kill babies to save lives? Now that’s messed up I don’t care how you look at it. 

Where does it end? 

So, what does bottom look like for a society in a downward spiral? Once natural laws that have successfully governed integrity, decency and honor for eons are sufficiently diluted into meaninglessness, only chaos and illogical application of rhetoric can prevail. There is no better way to describe falling from grace than to say look around. It’s not only all around us, it is in us.

Not like it hasn’t happened before. But what if this is the last time? Last chance?

 (1 Corinthians 10:12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.  

For Him,