Posted in Living this Life

The God who thought up noses – Pt 2

“It’s like this: As the darkness feels like it is closing in with each news report, our health and our very future often feel threatened. Amidst the echo of fear I hear from all directions, I wake up each morning and delight to see that God has done it again – for behold, there is a beautiful sun rising from the horizon again and the birds have been singing for hours already.  I’m enjoying coffee with a ridiculous amount of whipped cream on it, and there is still ice cream in the freezer waiting to be savored in a bit. How do I reconcile these two realities?”

 

I believe the answer to this question is the key to finding peace in these turbulent times. The answer to joy when we can’t find our way through the haze. Demonstrated by David in the Psalms and even prayed over us by Jesus Himself, it’s worth our time to take a step deeper into this place.

sunrise

bird singingb62db985-1eaf-4a69-a589-f2030af257c1img_6173

 

They say not to put the cart before the proverbial horse, and yet I fear that is what I did in my previous post. To be fair, we often don’t care much about the horse or where it’s taking us until we see what’s in the cart sometimes. So will you you give me a minute? Let me explain…

cart before the horse

Quiddity. Remember that word? That long deep draw of cool water when your throat is parched? It’s what is in the cart – and I’ve been thinking alot about that this week. Because when we start with the experience of wonder before we look at the how, we get it backwards and can end up even more fatigued and lost than when we started. As Lewis famously interpreted Matthew 6:33 – “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first & we lose both first and second things”

So, I return to my original question: How do I reconcile the tension between these two realities?

I feel a desperate need to hold up the beautiful, to sing with the birds that God still reigns and His glory is breathtaking – is this the song of a lunatic? The tinny echo of a blind optimist who is disconnected from reality? Can we really ground ourselves in this slowing and savoring lifestyle when it feels like the world is burning down around us?

Perhaps this is where the cart has been put before the horse. Because the reality is this: Try as we might, we cannot do it on our own. We are not strong enough. Our attention span falters, we hit a dead end, and then what? When our enjoyment of the gifts around us begins to feel like more hard work, and your very desire to find the wonder leads to a whole other sense of hopelessness, where do you turn?

After all, every created thing has a necessary end in and of itself – we are a finite people reaching for an infinite good. How do we span this maddening gap?

Humor me for a moment. This quote is longer than I usually would include – but it is worth it.

I was standing today in a dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it. Then I moved so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead, I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.” (This moment of enlightenment is brought to us by C. S. Lewis from his book God in the Dock.)

shafts of light

Looking along the beam vs. looking at the beam. This is revolutionary!

When I look deep into a flower, I see depths of beauty that are hard to describe. But when I look along the beam of that beauty to behold that One who created that flower, I stand with Job, who upon seeing the glory of God, said “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know… My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42.

Piper describes it like this: All of God’s creation becomes a beam to be “looked along” or a sound to be “heard along” or a fragrance to be “smelled along” or a flavor to be “tasted along” or a touch to be “felt along”.  All our senses become partners with the eyes of the heart in perceiving the glory of God through the physical world” 

Do you sense it? This is where it all comes together like the pieces of a puzzle finally revealing their secret beauty. Don’t leave me now – but hold your breath with me as we enter this sacred place!  Don’t let your gaze of wonder stop at the object that takes your breath away. Look beyond – let your gaze travel upwards along the beam of His glory and see, truly see, the face of God.

We don’t will this moment into existence. He took the first step. He breathed it all into reality, and every day He sustains it’s continued existence. But there’s so much more! When we built a wall, He made a way through. When darkness rose up in us, His light shone through. This is the door – the only way to go from seeing what He made to truly savoring it as He intended. It is His communication to us of a newer, brighter, more beautiful way than we could ask or imagine!

Do you know my Jesus? Have you drawn deep of the draft of this eternal life? Lean in, my friend. Hold your breath. Because this is where it all starts. We owed a price we couldn’t pay – but that didn’t stop Him from embarking on the greatest rescue mission of all time! He paid our price for us, died an undeserving death and welcomes all who accept this gift into His family with open arms. And every birdsong, every flower that blooms into impossible glory, every star that appears night after night in the dark sky, every waft of fresh bread, is declaring this unfathomable truth!

We can see the face of the Creator when we accept the payment made by Jesus. If this reality isn’t the greatest good in your life, pause. Right here. Talk to God. Tell Him you’re sorry. Ask Him to carry the weight of your failings for you. Let Him fill your heart with freedom, with lightness, with joy – with all the glory you’ve been craving your whole life. It’s right there – trace the sunbeam up to the author and let the Son fill you!

And let the world of wonder in.

Posted in Living this Life

Laying Hope

A few years ago my dad built a birdbox with my daughter. Every year, we have Eastern Bluebirds that visit and build nests in this box, lay eggs, and sometimes have babies.

As spring approaches each year, we have fun naming the “mom and dad” and we watch the drama unfold. We’ve had every manner of incidents with these eggs, from other creatures destroying the eggs to particularly tragic events last year with Han and Leia’s babies. We often talk about that one year we had baby birds that grew until they flew away!

So this year, we have once again welcomed a pair of bluebirds, but I have watched them with different eyes this year – partly marred by last year’s “incident” and partly shadowed by the news reports from around the world. I watched them fly in and out with twigs in their mouths, laying a perfect home for their eggs. Days passed – we didn’t see “Podo and Nurgabog”, and wondered if they’d moved on. But then today – I walked out and checked again – and there it was!

The most beautiful blue egg. And my heart leapt a little more than normal. Because in these days, we need every sign of hope we can find, right? And what is more hopeful than this? The fragile, impossible blue of this egg lying in wait for new life! Im grateful that birds don’t stop laying eggs because of what happened last year – we hold these things too closely sometimes, don’t we? Today, I want to release the concern, the worry, the memories of what has gone wrong, and I want to embrace hope – though it may seem as fragile as this delicate egg, the beauty it holds and the promise of future life is more than my heart can encompass.


“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise. Isaiah 43

Posted in Living this Life

Becoming real

I went for a walk the other day. I saw my shadow, and a million thoughts flooded my mind. I thought of my calendar pre-March. Filled with all the sports, all the appointments, all the music lessons, all the lunches with friends … filled with good stuff. And yet part of me felt thin, a bit frayed.

“Every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain…” Ps 39:6.

I haven’t looked at my calendar in a couple weeks … it feels strange to be living this day by day existence. Strangely unfettered. I’m struggling to find the word – maybe more real?

I know we’ll all return to a new “normal” someday – but I hope we don’t lose what God is showing us in these days. May we lose our shadow existence and walk with our feet grounded in truth and our hearts wrapped around Jesus, not things and doings, for our joy.

“The joy of the Lord is your strength… in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore”

Posted in Living this Life

Carnival of senses

Fresh bread… homemade donuts… my home was a carnival for the senses today and it brought so much joy.

Something about the simplicity of mixing the flour, baking the bread, watching my daughter craft love-donuts for her father helped slow everything down to just this moment in time with this precious family of mine.

Savor the moments, my friends!

“For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” Psalm 107:9 #quarantinebaking #quiddity #capturethewondwr

Posted in Living this Life

what’s hiding in the back of your cupboards?

When I was in college, I worked at a thrift store in the afternoons for a little bit of spending money – and I never knew what I was going to bring home with me most days. This little sandwich griller found it’s way into my apartment 25 years ago from that thrift store … and my college roommates and I still laugh at all the “creations” I would make for us with this.

It followed me to Mn, AZ, and now continues to live in the back of my kitchen cupboard in Arkansas. I often forget about it, and only use it about twice a year because let’s be real, I can’t handle the stress of wondering when it’s going to blow up on me any more often than that. Today my son asked for a sandwich on it – and as I remembered using this all those years ago in my little college apartment, I thought of all the friendships and laughter that have been a part of my life – along with this this ancient little griller.

Sometimes we need to lift our eyes beyond today and the swirling anxiety that can fog our vision and trace the faithful hand of God in all the little places… those “insignificant” days that lay out in a long strand of pearls – a gift from our Creator.

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He; I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:3-4

Posted in Living this Life

the trees of the fields will clap their hands!

I was in high school … it was a warm Southern California day, and I was bored.

Mr Stenhouse surprised us all by telling us to go outside. Desperate for any interruption to the monotony of the day, we gladly complied. He led us all to a tree and strangely asked us all to find a spot under the tree and lie down. Again, happy to not be in a stuffy classroom, we followed his directions.

A few minutes passed and Mr Stenhouse asked to go back in the room. And so the lesson had begun – a lesson that I still am learning. He simply asked, “what did those few minutes lying there teach you about God?”

So today, here is my tree. It’s a beautiful sunny day here in AR, and the refreshing air is invigorating. What lesson can my heart absorb about my God today? Right here, in the middle of all the circumstances that surround us?

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. … Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy!” Isaiah 55:12

Posted in Living this Life

Do it again!

We went for a walk the other day. My youngest picked me this beautiful bouquet! The sweet random assortment of weed flowers make me smile!

Now look a little closer … see the amazing intricacies in the flower of what we might call a “weed”. Our God breathed this into existence. All around us, His breath is springing to life – don’t miss it!

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we” – GK Chesterton #capturethewonder #eyeswideopen #springtimeglory