Monday, February 1, 2016

to be fruitful in little things

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

February's door creaks open but I'm tugging, tugging, not quite ready for its dawn  . . . you see, I'm just not sure how the myriad of opportunities and obligations will weave together in 2016. And fear threatens to slip through the cracks.

Heart, remember,  do justice, love kindness, walk humbly. . .

God, show me how to love you, to love people-  Make me fruitful!

The other day I received the dearest email from my new friend-

I've been wanting to write to you all day, but wordlessly. . . I'm not sure if you know what I mean- when there's a big ball of communication that wants to escape but it's nebulous and indistinct. . . urgent but wordless.

Finally this evening the words came together: Thank you. . .it's fun how few words it took to express that big urgent, wordless ball! Thank you for loving me, for being my friend, for listening when I needed an ear. . .
And thanks for showing me the way God made broccoli grow! Of all the things we've 
talked about the last few months, that has been the most influential, the most helpful, Really!

So- I remember the afternoon my friend dropped by impromptu as I weeded the vegetable garden,

"Look, friend, how amazing the way God made broccoli!"

February marches forward whether I have my life and my desire for fruitfulness all figured out or not-
Maybe you'll come to my house for coffee this month or next, maybe our conversation will be all about broccoli - and that will be good enough. . . do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Beauty everywhere. . .

So, I've been to California and back  - and here my blog sits, blank and lonely as I process my life between here and there. . .

Everywhere I see God's beauty-- pomegranates, exquisite California beauties! I deseeded a dozen, being advised that breaking up the fruit under running water controls the squirting crimson juices!

Everywhere I see God's beauty--a cardboard container of savory clam chowder, a hike along the Mendocino coast,  banks of ice plant turned red, sounds and smells of the Pacific, the foam of mighty waves.

Everywhere I see God's beauty- this week I'm wandering my neighborhood with a small brown sack, picking up pecans- round, oval, striped, thin and hard shell- on sidewalks, I'm rescuing stragglers from streets; it's what I do most years in November, imagining what delicious treat I will create with God's bounty.

Everywhere I see God's beauty- I keep looking since beauty is often wedged between the messy,  the burdens, the brokenness. The other day we helped our friend pack up her family home; the house sold- now what?  God has a space, a plan- but for now much is a mystery for my dear friend.

I see brokenness. But everywhere I see God's beauty-- because He is there.

We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. 
He is is nearer than our own soul closer than our most secret thoughts. 
(A.W. Tozer)

(And tomorrow we're off to the Carolinas-- I'll look for God's beauty there)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

in my own backyard. . .

Last Saturday- on a warm October evening we hosted a party celebrating Sam and Mercy's marriage. A crowd of Texas friends filled our backyard and it was lovely- singing, sharing, dinner and dancing, all in our own backyard.

Then we hugged our friends and cleaned up the yard. Sam and Mercy went home to North Carolina- we miss them already. Sometimes it feels like my children flow in and out of my days like ocean waves (without the predictable rhythm).
But I imagine our children say the same about John and me!

I think I'm almost ready for the next thing. . . I've packed a bag with a book and a bit of knitting. This morning I'm off to California to lend a hand to a friend.

 In a few weeks I'll be back- John will be waiting and we'll eat breakfast in our own backyard.

Friday, October 16, 2015

iron sharpens iron

Lately I've been thinking about this quote and embracing the worthy pursuit. . . .

Never resist even the least urge to pray

Never resist even the least urge. . .
So I come humbly,  Lord, open the eyes of my heart, make me keen to your promptings! 

 I'm praying more. . . .impromptu prayers, over the phone, over coffee, over and amid every situation and conversation. I'm leaning hard into God that way, trusting that prayer will grow more a part of my inner self, if you know what I mean?

I shared the challenge with the women in my Bible study and received this text from a friend:

I heard your voice in my head last night saying, "Don't ignore the Holy Spirit's prompting to pray."After some internal debate I obeyed and prayed audibly over my husband for his rest and work stresses. Thanks for spurring me on to obedience.

And thanks, friend, for spurring me on-- so like iron sharpens iron, so one woman sharpens another.

Friday, October 9, 2015

embracing the unexpected. . . or not

Welcome lovely October! My neighbor dropped by early today and we drank coffee at the small square table in my front window, soaking in October light patterns and new day conversation. . . so good!

I like impromptu visits. . .  dropping by your house- tapping on your door, peeking in the window, calling out your name,  turning the door knob perhaps- but of course, you're my sweet friend and you know that about me. These days I text before coming. And each week I reserve clean squares in my red calendar book,  just enough empty to anticipate the unexpected.

So- I've been pulling dusty journals off the closet shelf, pouring over memories recorded in pen or faded pencil, thoughts that amuse and surprise me.  In my soul there's a longing for what was and what is to come . . . Ahh, such are the gathering of days.

 I'm reading the description of Mercy's birth 27 years ago . . .   before dawn as chickens rustled in the courtyard of Susana's house, our tiny daughter was born unexpectedly early.
Mercy was born in Chignahuapan, a mountain town in central Mexico- her's was an impromptu birth.

We were unprepared, totally unprepared, no gas in the van,  no clothes, no blankets for her- in fact everything was still packed away or lent out somewhere. But 7 brothers and sisters were prepared to embrace her. . .we wrapped her in something clean. . .

"I'm frustrated that we're so unprepared for her!" I lamented.

"It's an adventure- isn't the unexpected exciting?" John cheered me on.

But the Lord was clearly at hand- and Susana butchered a chicken in the courtyard at dawn and she  fed us all in celebration that day.

I'm remembering that even in the uncomfortable parts of the unexpected, our God designs comfort for his beloved. Amazing.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

a breathing space

There's this lovely corner in Abi's new home in New York. . . I can't wait to go back, to toss my knitting in the basket, to settle in the little chair, just my size- and to breathe.
I've been reading some stuff. . . reminders to make a space to breathe. I understand the mechanics, really I do- but usually it's not the space that's noisy; the problem is my own noisy, distracted self.

Honestly, I struggle to have restful time alone with God especially when I travel; I grow a bit frantic inside.
Ahh, we were created to long for Him, to yearn for the Good Shepherd to lead us beside still waters! Sometimes the still waters elude me and discouraged,  I conclude that a monastic life must be the answer. (Imagine that!)

So, I'm home in Texas, back in my routines and in my familiar breathing space.  I'm anticipating travel again next month- and I wonder, Will I find that space to breathe with God inside my own heart?

Last month I spent a season of days in Psalm 119. . . I find myself resting there about every 6 months,  drinking in the Psalmist's heart:

God be gracious to me according to your promise. . .when I think on your ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies, I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. (vs 59)

I'm not looking for a formula, a literal space, a particular routine. Today I breathe in God and desire a yearning heart . And I'm thinking on his ways, one thought at a time, again and again, thoughts that will change the direction of my heart no matter where I carry my backpack, no matter where I lay my my head.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

He keeps doing what he loves. . . .

Yesterday John and I got to take part in Grandparents Day with Hope and Logan, children from our church family.
In first grade the teacher requested a few grandparents to volunteer for storytelling.  Hope, sweet girl, right away raised her hand and offered John and me for the storytelling job!

I declined, but John stepped up with a story of his own, a great story about 6 year old Johnny who was fearful of train tracks and train noise but who loved his grandma's quiet house and the delight of exploring old trunks in the basement. The kids were attentive, laughed and responded in all the right places in the story. Then they clapped at the end.

Sometimes I wonder,  What does a man do with himself in retirement?
This man just keeps doing what he loves . . . and I'm grateful.