Hands

Posted: December 27, 2014 in Musings, Reflections

I looked at the image of hands, skillfully weaving yarn with a hook. The blanket being crafted was beautiful and as the hook slid back and forth, hooking and curling, it grew with color and texture.

The product though, was dimmed as I noticed the hands. I felt so many emotions as I stared at them. They look just like my grandmother’s hands. The disfigured joints and nodules on the fingers, all in the same places. The way the hands were held, moved and embraced were all reminiscent of hers, so long ago removed from our lives.

I miss her. In so many things I do every day, I see her hands working. And I hear her voice ringing in my head. Peeling apples, stitching a seam, tapping to music. Her life infused mine. These memories flash like snapshots in my mind, like some sort of photo album with pages turning. Phrases playing like favorite recordings come in private audio, just for my ears.

I wistfully work, feeling her presence with me. Grateful for her influence and direction I wonder if I can be like her. Will my words ring in the minds of my children, grandchildren? Will they smile when they hear my whispers in their ears after I am gone? Will the every day activities bring fond memories of influence and training?

The hands are my own. Image of HandsThey leave me a little startled by their image. When did my hands become my grandmothers? When did they become so gnarled? I am saddened by their appearance at first, wanting to cover them with gloves like fine ladies of old. But then I see my grandmother, and I smile.

Perhaps in the memories of a life infused into others, the hands may be beautiful. The crafted things left behind a reminder and the voice attached to them can be alive.

I wonder, can a person determine their legacy? I believe my grandmother did. She lived out her faith in very practical ways and allowed the unseen to be visible. It infused her life and in turn, permeated my own.

My desire is to live the legacy I leave behind. And, with all the tripping and bumbling along the way, I pray laughter comes along for the ride. After all, without the laughter, the hands are painful and ugly. Laughter brings the beauty out of them and glues all the pieces of memories together. I can hear my grandmother’s playful giggles even now.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business
and work with your hands, just as we told you,
so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.
I Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV

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Memorial Day Remembering

Posted: May 28, 2013 in Reflections

Remembering….
There is something about remembering that propels us forward.

In The Bible the children of Israel are told to create altars and rock piles as places to remember what happened in a particular place. But never are they told to “live there” where those memories are triggered. In fact they are told to use those places as a means to teach others along the way what God has done before. There is a sense of leaning forward in this method. God says, when your children ask you, what is this for? You will tell them the story of God. It is both future and past.

How do we build our altars of remembraces? Holidays seem to work well as long as they are not hijacked by commercialism or media hype. Today is Memorial Day. It is a day set aside to remember fallen soldiers. A day to remember those who have died in service to their country. It makes me think of my grandfather, one who served faithfully in WWII. Who came home and could not share what he faced there. The atrocities he witnessed were more than he could form words for. I could tell he felt it deeply and profoundly.

It bothered me that he did not have his medals he earned while serving. When I asked him about it, he tried to assure me he didn’t feel like he deserved any medals except his combat badge. He didn’t believe he deserved any such honors when so many never made it home. He especially cried over the thought of receiving a purple heart for his injury. He said, “I still have my life.”

I got his permission to try and contact someone to see if we could get his medals. I convinced him it was one way as his offspring we could see the stories he could not talk about. He was battling cancer and was getting weaker all the time. I was certain he would love to have his medals once he saw them. I got to work making calls and it was not long before we had connected to the right department.

Long story short, Grandpa died just short of the medals arriving in the mail. He never got to hold them. We tearfully and carefully laid them all out, studying the meaning behind each star, each ribbon, each symbol. The medals told the stories he never could. I share the medals with my children and tell the story of Grandpas service. I tell them how he left his family and went to a far away place. And, we all think of a soldier who now serves his country in a far away place. A new conflict, new stories, new horrors. Men and women leaving home, struggling with leaving loved ones behind but doing it so someone else doesn’t have to do it. Sacrifice.

I remember my Grandpa, I think of now. I teach my children and lean forward with them to the future. Memorials are important for us. In remembering we live more fully in the now and lean more confidently to the future. Time spans our remembering in ways that connect us to the past and future at the same time!

No Place to Sit You!

Posted: May 25, 2013 in Compassion

This family had been the textbook definition of poverty, right before my eyes. They had lost their ability to work, lost their health, lost what little wealth they had and lost their dignity. They struggled with legal issues and illiteracy. Yet, they found a way to come volunteer every week, driving some 20 miles just to “give back.” The relationship we built while working together has blossomed and developed into true friendship and a form of discipleship.

They invited me to come to their home to teach them about the Bible and to give instruction in how to be the church. What an honor! I was humbled to be trusted with such a large task. I called an associate to help me and we made arrangements to go to their home for the meetings.

When we arrived, my friend opened the door with the brightest smile I had ever seen on her face! Her husband stood behind her greeting enthusiastically and waving us inside. What I saw shocked me!! Rather than the borrowed folding chairs I expected, I saw a brand new set of ornate sofas! A beautiful royal deep burgundy with gold trim, high sides and large pillowy cushions. At first I attempted to scold her for going to such an expense just because we were coming. Her eyes filled with tears. She was confused as she asked me if she did something terribly wrong.

I was immediately convicted in my heart. She tearfully told me, “Amy! I had no place to sit you!” I recognized her desire to do a very basic thing to provide their best for someone they deeply cared for. Her heart wanted to honor God and honor her guests. In some ways, one could say she did it as an act of worship of this God they wanted to know more about.

“I had no place to sit you” rings in my mind often as I struggle to understand why people do what they do. Sometimes their spending precious dollars is not the way I think it should be. Sometimes, I have learned, I am the one who does not understand what is important. Who am I to say what someone should not do if God is calling them to do it as an act of worship and obedience to him?

Again, I find myself walking a tight rope. I feel the tension between coaching someone in responsible stewardship and honoring what God is calling them to do. Perhaps coaching them should be a conversation, not dictation. Maybe it is more about obedience to God rather than obedience to a norm of society. Each situation and each person is different and is in a different place in their faith journey. It is our job to listen carefully, to hear what God is calling us to do or be. To listen to the other person and encourage them to follow God’s call in their lives.

Finding more benches

Posted: May 21, 2013 in Compassion, Reflections

I watch her manage his day, keeping everything the same. His room, his clothes, his routine. Any deviation unsettles him and causes fear. Unfamiliar surroundings can bring on panic and he becomes angry as a means to show he is in control and not afraid. I see a child within the man and I have come to understand, how afraid he must be as he loses himself and relies on her to be his constant. They made a pact early on, to be strong partners in this journey. To be “The one” that would always be there to quell fears and set boundaries for safety. Day after day she runs the routine, without complaint. She takes time to count her blessings each day along the way and finds her strength in her generous God who gives her grace. She prays for mercy and gentle blessing for the day ahead and busies her hands working in dirt. He sits beside her and watches her hands till the soil and comments on plants and foods soon to be on the table. Like a child, he asks, “Do I have to eat that?” And she gently says “no”, but you may want to try a bite since you liked it yesterday.

I am amazed at the stamina and the courage she faces each day on this long, long journey of care. She loves so deeply and cares so high, commits very wide and watches so far. He finds peaceful rest in her company.

A prayer was offered for them today. A prayer for grace and peace as she walks with this one she loves. A plea for presence as they journey on side by side and when things get hard, may they find more benches along the way to provide some sojourn and a place to chat, maybe watch birds and hear a child’s laugh.

I cried at the thought of such tender love. And prayed for myself, to have such a one that would walk beside me in my raw times of need, when I may feel overtaken with fear of the unknown. One who will brush my cheek, wash my back and whisper reassurances in the dark. Oh what compassion!  Or perhaps I will be this one who comes alongside.  May I honor her legacy with the  same loyalty and deep affection she spends day by day caring for her beloved.

Angel wings in cloudsI am exhausted. On the verge of being ill from fatigue. Why can’t I find the rest I need or the sense of wellness I long for? My family barks at me for doing too much and tells me to “Stop!” In their demands, I hear God’s voice calling to me from somewhere in the distance. I know what Sabbath rest is about. I understand the purposes in taking the time and I must confess I have allowed myself to be so busy, I forget to set the time aside to honor it. I go to bed and make an honest attempt to sleep in and let the extra rest bring me some measure of feeling better. I awake and I do not feel better. Again, I hear a voice in the distance calling. This morning, I turned my ear toward this voice.

Sabbath. I think it is a seeking rest.  Not the kind of seeking you do when you are hiking on a hunt for something, but one that turns the ear to hear One who speaks without words.

 
Ann Voskamp says something like this: “watching wells something up inside of us and it doesn’t have words. Nor does it ask for words. It is only for witnessing.” And I reflect. I allow myself the luxery of letting my mind wander down old familiar pathways where I had encountered this voice without words before, and I smile. There is something that happens with this soul deep smile. There is a complete and satisfying exhale. And God…God rests me.

I steep, like a tea bag that absorbs all the refreshing liquid and soaks up as much of God’s living presence as I can. Breathe in deeply. Exhale completely. I am refreshed. And something strange begins to happen. My spirit is rejoicing and my body wants to move me in celebration. I am revived again and all those refreshing waters of God encounters and memories of faithfulneess begin to flow outward. God colors, God flavors, God himself seems to be flowing out from within. And I realize just how needy I am of Sabbath moments.

 
I resolve once again to be purposeful in setting aside time that is sacred. Time to reflect and allow my God to rest me. Time to celebarate his goodness. Time to turn my ear to hear this voice without words.

Matthew 11:28 says,  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)

Aside  —  Posted: May 20, 2013 in Reflections
Tags: , , ,

This Is Your Gain

Posted: April 18, 2013 in Poetry

When love hurts me Lord
and my heart feels broken
I walk to Gethsemene and
hear the words you have spoken

When love hurts me Lord
and I can’t bear the pain
I kneel at the rock where you sought
not your gain

but mine, Jesus
With your perfect love
that purchased my life with
your sin cleansing blood

When love hurts me Lord
I fall on my face
and plead for great mercy
you show me the place

to find your power
that enables my spirit
to walk the next mile
to gain peace within it

I cry Lord Jsus
for relief of the pain
and you answer me
Child, this is your gain

To suffer your faith
with me close to your side
I’ll carry you as needed
you’ll not be denied

For My Mother

Posted: April 18, 2013 in Poetry

When did you become my friend?

Memories stir within my head

And struggle, knowing my role has

Changed.

And yet, the struggle adds value

To the ebb and flow

Of give and take

And you bless my heart.

You held me in the night,

When fears became live

and imagination reigned.

I called for you

When fear gave way to fright.

from somewhere beyond my sight,

you came with comfort,

speaking words of peace.

Imagination has given way

To realities that stir my thoughts.

Your presence still brings comfort

As one who is a friend.

I wonder, if I too have changed.

Instead of calling for you

In the night of fear,

Am I here for you

In your need of words

That offer peace?

Childhood gone, yet fear still comes.

In realities that glare

as much in day as in the dark.

Faith becomes our partnership

And tandem steps

Carry forward, what is – from

What has been.

But still I wonder…

When did you become my friend?
October, 2010