Monday, June 23, 2014

This adventure that we're on......

I love my house.

Several months back we bought a fixer-upper.  One of those houses that no one else bid on at the auction because of the amount of work involved to make it pristine.  But unlike some fixer-uppers our house is quite livable in the meantime, we can recreate parts of it into what we want, and comfortably live in it right now.

Like many houses in our area, it started out as a good 'ol Kiwi batch not far from a beach and has morphed and grown over time.  I love that.  I love that the house is almost as old as we are, that it's already lived a lot of life, and that it's interesting.  I love that my laundry room was somewhat strangely added on later onto what must have once been the upstairs entrance to the house.  That the light fixtures from room to room are from completely different eras. And we're making even more changes.

Like a life that has grown and changed over time, our house has character.  Too much character at present as Rachel tells her friends that we live in the 'crack house' because of the outside badly in need of new paint (!), but nothing that can't be fixed.  And it's ours.

It's a work in progress.

Photo credit:  Ivy Rupani
Adam's teacher rang the other day.  She called about something else but mentioned that that morning the class had been asked to write a speech about an experience from their lives.  She told me that she found Adam's life experience fascinating, but that she was going to have to check with the school administration because she wasn't sure that he'd be allowed to say some of the things that he had written in front of the class.

Adam was incredulous!  He couldn't believe that what had been his normal life experience living in a red light district in India might not be considered appropriate for his classmates to even hear about--because he had lived it.

Granted he has had an unusual upbringing.  His life is a very interesting work in progress.  I wonder what will happen with a boy who at age eleven already passionately points out to other boys the dark side of things that they casually say?  They think in pre-teen mostly innocent innuendos, but he knows how disrespectful they really are to women, and to him women who have been objectified wear real flesh and bone with souls and personalities attached.

We all have our different journeys.  We've all grown and expanded with our own histories, our own basket full of life lessons.  Our own set of rooms that have been added on or remodeled over time.

Life is quite the ride.

Sometimes it's a roller coaster that we'd like to exit for a bit.  Sometimes the fact that it's way beyond our control is scary--we're just passengers after all.  Sometimes it seems like we're forever on that uphill climb waiting for the fun to begin.  Sometimes we linger on that crest looking down below and feeling the fear before the experience carries us away and leaves us breathless.

It changes us.

Hannah has been participating in the art of Spoken Word for a while now.  One line in one of her recent free form poems is this (imagine it being rhythmically spoken out loud):

"You've heard it been said that someone came alive after having been pronounced dead.  The same can be said about my heavy heart and hardened head.

I'm graced."

Changed.  Once dead, now alive.  Once a small, restricted house now expanded and full of character, living. Once an innocent child, now someone poised with a heart awake, a heart that sees through the haze into what really matters.  A voice ready to speak.

I don't know about you, but I'm sure glad I'm on the ride.  Glad I'm in the middle of this adventure called life.  Glad that, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps. 27:1)  And that, "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."  (Deut. 31:8)

The ride really isn't up to me.  Sure I can adjust myself in the seat, make sure my seat belt is buckled and hope for the best, but the Master's hand is on the control panel.  He's at the wheel, the helm, the cockpit.  He's directing the ride.  And when I remember to look at the character of the Master Designer, I know that while the ride is full of twists and turns that He is in control.

Let the adventure, this ride called life, continue!  And whatever is around the bend He will be right there with us, navigating it together.  

Photo credit:  Heidi Cook

Friday, June 20, 2014


Mankind likes to think of themselves as enlightened beings, the center of the Universe, important and wise.  We feel the need to be in control of our own destinies, somehow it's part of our make-up, but sometimes the harder we try, the more life spins out of control.  Blinders and limited sight are the realities from the Divine perspective.

Sometimes, like Jacob, we wrestle with God.  We wrestle over the pain of the past, the 'whys' of the present, the uncertainty of the future............

Tim Timmons is a singer/songwriter with cancer.  He calls his Song "Great Reward"* a wrestling song. He worries about what will happen to his wife and kids when his life is over. He wonders how he will continue on the path that he's walking.  When someone speaks with one foot into eternity, it's good to listen:

I trust in You for every heartbeat
As long as I'm alive
Your love endures when I wake 
And when I close my eyes

Help me to know You are God, I am not
Remind my soul--You're in control

Praise to the Father 
With every breath I take
In joy and sorrow
All for Your kingdom's sake
Be Thou my vision
Be Thou my hope restored
Now and forever
You are my great reward

Him.  Our great reward.

We wrestle with God when we don't understand what He's doing.  We, like Jacob (Gen. 32), grab Him tight and cry out, "Why are you doing this?" and " Bless me!  Please?"

The thing that's great about wrestling with God is that at least we're holding on to Him.  We're grabbing a hold of Him.  Tight.  And that's not a bad place to be.

You can usually tell someone who has wrestled with God.  They often have a 'limp', a mark on their life that shows that while they are weak, He is strong.  It's a badge of being His.  They may not 'walk' with quite as much ease as they used to on their own, but their step is more sure, their vision more clear, their hearts more full of everlasting joy.

And they know that they're marked as being His.

I had a glass Coke bottle explode in my face years ago in Fiji.  I picked it up out of my car and while I was transferring it into my other arm pressure that had built up inside made it explode outward into hundreds of little pieces.  Right in front of my face.  Amazingly I only needed five stitches in my forehead.  There was even a cut across my eyelid that showed that the glass had hit so fast that my eyes were still open, but my eyes were fine.

The scar on my forehead is hard to spot now, but for years I looked into the mirror, saw that scar, and remembered that God knew where every piece of glass was going even faster than I could blink.  I liked that mark.  It was a mark that inspired my faith.  It was His.

I like the wedding ring on my finger, too.  While I can wiggle it off it's there all the time.  It's a mark of a commitment, a mark of faith and trust in each other, it reminds me of who I love and that I'm his.  I'm marked.

And then there are the marks on our souls that no one else can see.  Painful once (or still), but becoming precious because of what they represent.  Times where we wrestled with God and finally relaxed into His hands.  And received His blessing.

I like being marked as His.

Him. Our great reward.

And His nail scared hands marked Him----for us.

*Listen to Tim Timmons sing "Great Reward" here.  It's worth it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Note to self today......

Why is it so hard to fall to my knees
When I'm overwhelmed, tired, and don't know where to go?
Well, I do know where, it's to Him
But somehow while I feel His presence I'm only scratching the surface
I reach out with grasping fingers but miss the fullness of His hand

I want to dive right in, the water is fine
I know He's there yet my bent knees won't take that final spring
They won't dive into the water and they won't kneel in prayer
Distracted, restless, still trying to do it on my own
Or maybe just too tired to move at all

Why is it so hard to fall to my knees
When I long for Him, ache for Him, need His strength in my limbs?
Need Him so much that I cannot even kneel on my own
Need Him to draw me in, I want to bow
Bow in His presence, rest in His glory

Anxiety, really the art of disbelief
Distracted, restless, not fully living
Puffs up the 'self', makes me think I'm 'doing something'
What a waste of time, keeping me at half mast
You'd think I would have learned this by now

Why is it so hard to fall to my knees
When His hands are there to catch my fall?
When the very essence of love is etched in His smile?
When His tender compassion envelopes me fully?
When His all-powerful, all-knowing Self is absolutely trustworthy?

Silly, stubborn, wayward girl
Get on your knees
Just fall