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Outsider

I stand outside in the dark
Covered well enough by my coat
So that the brisk air touches
Only my face.
Light form a nearby window
Draws me
And like a moth, I approach.
I look in the window.
(Not nose to the glass – that would be too close.)
Keeping a respectful distance
I watch.
Warm, happy family
At dinner
Breaking bread
(It smells so good!)
Sharing stories
(Remember when . . .?)
Knowing each other
With a familiarity that nourishes the soul.

I rub my gloved hands together
And tell myself that I am content
To stay here
And watch.
This is my place.

While thus engaged
Enjoying the view
I hear the door open
And see light flood the pavement next to me.
“Come in. We were hoping you would join us.”
I shed my coat,
And warmth covers me –
Warmth from the fire and from love.
I am filled with delicious bread
And with joy
That comes from being included,
Being family.
My soul is nourished in
Sharing memories
Speaking of hope
And knowing I am family.
This is my place.

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If I Were a Cat

Jeremiah 29:11 – “I know the plans . . .”

I’m not exactly what you would label a “cat person.” I’m more content with a litter of puppies, although I hear housebreaking a cat is much easier. I don’t hate cats; I just don’t always understand them. But they do fascinate me. Cats are graceful, intelligent, independent. And the best part is that, if you believe the hype, they have nine lives.

I have often wished I could have nine lives. When I was a little girl, what I wanted to be when I grew up was a ballerina-cheerleader-ice-Capade-skater-teacher. As a teenager, I knew that I wanted to do something important when I grew up. After college, I was ready for anything! And my grandpa was convinced that I should be a nuclear physicist and be and interpreter for the UN in my spare time.

And so far in my life, I have done just about anything. I have taught high school English, Spanish, speech and sign language. I have worked temporary gigs at a bank, at a beverage company, and in the front office an electronics repair company. I have been a manager and buyer for a retail store. I have been a barista and worked in several restaurants. I have worked for a law firm, a title company and a truck stop company. And then there are the volunteer and extracurricular activities that God has allowed me to do. I have enjoyed and learned from every one of these. Yet it may be these very opportunities that have me so restless. Is there more I can do?

But I feel hampered. That is hard to say without sounding ungrateful. I am held back from some of the things I would do for God by those things I know are gifts from God: my job, my family, my studies.

You may wonder, with all God has allowed me to do, what more could I want? I’ll confess. I want to be a teacher again, but in England, helping to spread the love of God to the English countryside. And I want to work in theater – backstage, Broadway – speaking grace and unconditional love to those who must always deliver the perfect performance. I want to write a book, go on a book signing tour, and have Oprah add me to her list of favorite writers. But each of these dreams would take a lifetime. And I only have one.

But that one life is God’s gift to me, and my gift to Him. Whatever wonderful opportunity God gives me to serve Him, I will gladly take it. And God will make me happy and fulfilled in it.

Perhaps you wish you had nine lives, or just some other life. You want to do more than you are doing, or just something different. Be patient. God wants to use you for His perfect plan. Listen. He will tell you where to go and what to do when you get there. You can do everything you were put on this earth to do.

And you don’t have to be a cat to do it.

Learned Response

How many times
Do I need to have my hand slapped
Before I learn to stop reaching out?
Twice was not enough.
A third time I tried
Listened to the promises
Got comfortable
Settled into friendship
And trusted once again.
Then . . .
Slap!
Not my hand this time,
But a stinging blow to my cheek.
Stunned,
I cry
Then walk away
And don’t look back.
Lesson learned.

I retreat to a lonely corner
Afraid to move,
Simply afraid.
And try to convince myself
That it is good to be alone.

How many times
Do You need to take my hand
Before I trust You?
Will Your perfect love
Ever be enough for me
To believe Your promises
Accept Your comfort
Settle in for eternity?
In answer,
You kiss my cheek.
Stunned,
I smile
Then walk with You
And don’t look back.
Lesson learned.

As I walked along the riverside,
I praised the Lord
For His handiwork.
It could be seen in all
That I surveyed.

The silver-blue glitter of water
Rippling over rocks of gray.
Nature’s grassy carpet
Of plush and vibrant green.
The warm colors of leaves
That glow in golden sunlight,
And cool colors
In fragile flowers—
Pink and palest purple.
Soft, clean clouds that float
In fluffy clusters.
The mighty oak
That stands in majestic silence,
And all creeping creatures
That make the earth their home.
A melody of praise
To the glorious Creator of all.

And so I stood,
Admiring all around me
That I saw and heard;
And I felt peace.

Then,
The clouds of cotton white turned gray,
And the water, too.
All color fled
In advance of the storm
That threatened even the oak.
When it came—
The winds howling louder than the bird-song,
The rain beating the river,
The lightning shining as the sun once had—
I fled
To the nearest shelter
To wait for it to end.
All color
Was washed away
To pale imitations.
All sound
Became confusing tumult.
And I wondered
Why God would send the rain
When the sun was so much better,
Warmer,
Brighter,
So easy to enjoy.
And surely the crash of thunder
Could not be as pleasant
As other sounds had been.
Why
Does God send the rain?

When the storm was over,
And the clouds rolled back,
I stepped out
And once again surveyed the scene about me.
Raindrops lay on leaves
And flowers
Like shining, precious jewels,
And all colors
Were more fresh and vibrant than before.
And the song of Nature
Was gentle once again, but now
It had more meaning.

This new vitality of creation
I saw and felt
And heard
In a new way.
Then I understood
That God
Had sent the darkening storm
To wake the earth,
To make it sing,
To clean and brighten all.

And so He does with me
When I need to wake,
To sing,
To be brighter for Him.

Your favorite places
My favorite memories
Regrets of lives spent apart
Separated by time zones
And more
United by genes
And much more
(Love)
Getting to know you
Learning your rhythms
And getting into step with the family.
We collapse to the floor in laughter
Or snuggle up close in a quiet moment
Then come to the table
Filled with a bounty that promises
A long time together.
As I sit,
Surrounded by those I love,
I know
I am home.

Overcome

The music starts
And I join in
Making my joyful noise
Among the many.
Strings thread the melody
Drums are my heartbeat
Voices from the stage and the pews
Proclaim glory and honor
To the One who is worthy.
Overcome
I fall quiet
And let them all carry my praise
To the heavens
Because I am too overwhelmed
Even to clap
Stunned into silence
By His majesty.

Psalm 84:12-10

Blessed am I if I trust in You
Even when You seem
So far away,
Because You’re right beside me,
Whispering my name.

Blessed am I if I trust in You
Even when You are silent.
You’re not ignoring me –
Just waiting for me to
Strike up a conversation.

Blessed am I if I trust in You
Even when You withhold
Some thing from me,
And I pout like a child,
For You only give me the best.

Blessed am I if I trust in You
Even when I have
No strength to move,
For through my weakness
You are teaching me to dance.

When I trust in You,
I am in Your courts,
At Your throne,
Speaking Your praise,
Receiving Your gifts,
And dancing with abandon.

And I am blessed.