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Big Faith

That Christmas when you were six
Was the last time you visited Santa.
We waited,
Humming stale carols to musak
In a line that seemed miles long
Until your turn finally came.
You were hoisted up into that velvet lap
So you could whisper wishes
To a bearded stranger you believed
Could make them all come true.
You asked for the world,
Or at least, the world of a child.
“All the toys.”
Not specific toys.
All of them.
I made a motherly mistake
And assumed you were greedy in your wish
And in your response on Christmas morning
When you asked with genuine surprise
“Is this all?”
You had thought it a reasonable request.

That New Year’s when you were twelve
Was the first time I began to see
The man of faith you already are.
We waited,
Singing new choruses with the band
In a service that seemed hours long.
At last our turn came.
We sat on folding chairs
While you spoke your need
To faithful friends you trusted
Would pray for your healing.
“In time for his birthday,” I qualified.
“Now,” you corrected.
To me, it would mean the world.
To you, it seemed a reasonable request.
And you were right.
Healing was yours that night.

Anyone who meets you
Soon learns what I have come to understand –
That any outrageous request
Is perfectly reasonable
When you have big faith.

Breakfast Fail

I have two dachshunds. Well, a dachshund and a half. Laverne and Shirley are half-sisters. Shirley is a lovely black-and-tan who looks just like her mama. Laverne is a feisty mix — Shirley’s dachshund daddy also got together with the family dog, a yorkie poodle. Shirley is my follower. Laverne is by far the leader, every bit bossy.

Like most dogs, my girls love to eat. They never forget meal time, and they do their best to make sure I don’t forget. Laverne is especially good at this, quite able to convey the urgency of her food request with pitter patter and well-timed snorts.

This morning, I made bacon and eggs for breakfast and planned to pour a small amount of the grease over their kibble. While the smell of frying bacon filled the room, I reached for the tiny bowls, much to the excitement of the girls. I poured kibble into each bowl, then set the bowls on the counter and walked away to finish breakfast.

Shirley stood still, disappointment showing on her face for a few seconds before she walked back to her bed in the corner to pout. Laverne, however, marched behind me into the kitchen and snorted to get my attention. She glared at me accusingly. “Mom, you forgot to feed me!” Clearly, I had failed her. She was convinced that I had made a mistake. Worse, perhaps I was purposely withholding breakfast from her. She began to panic. As I moved around the kitchen, she circled around me, nearly tripping me in her effort to get what she wanted. All the while, she was hindering me from actually giving her what she wanted.

I do that to God sometimes. When things are not going the way I think they should, in the direction I would have chosen, toward the goal I want to achieve, I can work myself into a frenzy in an effort to force the desired outcome. I fail to trust Father God. I forget to ask what He may be doing with me, through me, for me. And much as I hate to think it, I am sure that sometimes I just get in the way of the blessings He is trying to give me.

James 1:7 reminds me that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights.” But in the middle of a trying time, I forget the sublime truth of this.

Life happens, and it’s not always easy. For me, the biggest challenges have come in the form of major life changes: leaving a job or starting a new career, finding a new church, moving to a new city (moving an unhappy teenager to a new city!), working through a back injury. Then there are the smaller challenges: a clogged toilet, a flat tire, the flu, a difficult coworker, a tight budget. None of it seems to be getting me what I want. And if I forget to trust the Father, I eventually panic. In my mind, the world is coming to an end! Over a flat tire. Really?

I don’t have time to explain the lovely outcome of each tough time. But trust me, each story ends well. Not necessarily a happily-ever-after ending, but I am better for having experienced each. It is all part of the Father’s plan to give me what I need.

For Laverne, the ending is kibble covered in bacon grease delivered by my loving hand. As I reach down to place the bowls on the floor for the girls to enjoy, I say, “See? I told you I would take care of you.” I’m not sure they’re listening, but I sense their contentment as they scarf down their breakfast.

clean girls

The Promise

We knew well the promise,
The promise we had clung to
Because it was our hope
In slavery
In wandering
In battle
In captivity
In every ceremony.
But we had nearly forgotten the promise,
Had drifted away from the truth.
Then the prophet Isaiah
Called us back
And declared again the promise of salvation
That would come in the Messiah.
“And the Spirit of the Lord
Will rest on him.”
So encouraged,
We continued our expectant waiting.

Years later
Another man declares the same promise
Keeping the hope of salvation alive
In our hearts.
As a long line of believers is baptized,
From among them
One stands out.
When he rises from the water,
He stops.
The sky opens
And the Sprit comes down
To settle on Him.
“This is my beloved Son
With whom I am well pleased.”
Our wait is over.
Salvation is here!

The Gift

In that humble place
Mysterious men from the East
Lay down their gifts
At his feet:
Gold for the King
Frankincense for the anointed One
Myrrh for Him who would die for humanity.
I don’t think anyone in that room
Fully understood
The meaning of those gifts
Or all they foreshadowed.
How could they?
But they didn’t have to comprehend
In order to give.
Just believe.

In this humble heart
I try to comprehend the mystery
Of this gift of grace.
I am a child of the King.
I am anointed to serve.
I will live forever.
I struggle to embrace
The full meaning of this
Indescribable gift.
But I don’t have to understand
In order to receive.
Just believe.

Coming Home (VI)

Soon.
A precious word
Full of the promise of coming satisfaction.
Wonderful, new things
Sweet reunion
A fresh start.
But first
There is much to do.
Many farewells
Hugs and kisses
Selling and cleaning and packing
That could all go on forever.
Meanwhile,
On the other side of those mountains
Nestled in the valley,
You wait
And cling to that word
Soon.
I promise you
Soon you will hear me say
I am home.

Dear Jimmy

“Dear Jimmy,” it had begun.
That was all he read
Before it was snatched from his light hold.
The sweet, girlish words
Meant for his eyes
Were passed from hand to hand
Through the classroom.
The boy, in hopes of stealing the letter back,
Jumped, ran,
Dove, lunged,
And reached where he could –
All without result,
Except that of increased grins and giggles
And mocking looks.
Finally,
He stood in the center of a circle of faces.
They watched,
And waited to see what he would do.
He waited,
And watched them as they stared.
He begged within himself
That the red-haired girl who now held the letter
Would have mercy on him.
Her freckled smirk made him wonder
If she would.
Perhaps it was the tragic look on his face,
Or the hint of tears in his defiant eyes,
Or the crimson on his hot cheeks,
Or the nervous shuffling of his feet –
Or perhaps it was that she had penned the letter –
That erased her teasing smile.
She looked shy.
He seemed anxious.
She paused.
He held his breath.
She stepped forward.
He did the same.
She held the letter toward him.
He leaped forward, hesitated, and hastily
Clasped the letter that had been
Held for ransom
At the cost of embarrassment.
Then he ran from the room filled with snickers.

Sabbath

After a week of
Going and rushing
Doing and accomplishing
So much list checking,
When my mind is full of
Figuring and fretting
Planning and panicking
With a good measure of
Cautious hoping,
Today
I enjoy the peaceful resting
The simply being
Of Sabbath.

My hands are not raised
In praise
Nor are they clasped together
In prayer.
In this hushed awe of gratitude
For grace and joy
And provision,
They are folded softly in my lap
Signaling quiet finality.
It is finished.
I am done with working
On all this
And will find my rest in You.
Shaloam.

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