It’s Raining…Fish?! (And other “life is sideways” tales)

 

Last week, I can honestly say I’m not really sure why I was so incredibly busy…too busy to write, apparently. Looking back at my calendar, I had a date with my hubby (who was blissfully home most of the week), a doctor’s appointment, and…? Nothing else there. But life was apparently too much to take time to write. Sorry.

Sunday was a rainy day. Off and on showers most of the day, a rather unusual and comfortable August high in the upper 80s, and then some really impressive thunderstorms at night. I discovered that our sweet young aussiesoodle doesn’t mind storms, but incessant thunder and eye piercing lightning through every window for over 30 minutes is way more than she can handle. She put herself to bed an hour early in order to try and hide from the chaos of the skies.

Monday we awoke to fresh, clean air, free of dust or ragweed and a light, sunny breeze. Our morning walk was a pleasure. Until we discovered the fish. Yes, you heard me—fish. On the sidewalk. Two of them. One appeared to be a small bluegill, about four or five inches long. The other wasn’t much more than an inch, fatter than most minnows I’ve seen, but not as long as many.

These two fishy specimen were laying on the sidewalk as we walked along our neighborhood route. Our city neighborhood. Not the walk on the other side of our major city street that takes us to the park…and the river. No. The lined with houses and apartments, there’s no water near here, sidewalk. The one that runs next to a parking lot which runs alongside the road. Hardly any grass, much less water, sidewalk. Two fish. Side by side. About five feet apart, lying in dampness left by the rain. Seriously?! Since when does it rain fish?

This anomaly got me thinking about life. About how sideways life can get sometimes. How sideways my own life has been these past months. How I’m trying desperately to find balance in a sideways world, and most days it can’t be found. At least not easily. It’s like trying to find fish on a sidewalk. Well, maybe not that easy after all.

In the middle of all this fish fun, my sons and I began to notice that our sweet, young, not quite five month old puppy is showing obvious signs of becoming very interested in the opposite sex. Wait. What?! She won’t turn FIVE months until tomorrow, and absolutely EVERYONE has assured me she won’t reach “maturity” before she’s six months, at the very earliest!!! Surely we must be reading her signals incorrectly?

After a trip to the vet yesterday, I discovered my farm upbringing has served me well—I do in fact know the early signs of a dog coming in heat. So our sweet little sweetheart (who, by the way, is currently not so overly sweet due to raging hormones) will be having surgery next week. One month before originally scheduled.

And this weekend, my youngest son heads to Indianapolis to start his life as an adult.

The constant craziness of life in the real world. It never ends. Living life sideways. I can’t seem to find a level path anywhere these days. Life continues to throw me curve balls, like fish on the sidewalk. Everything seems to be just a little off balance.

I know that for my own inner well-being, silence, solitude, and stillness are key. I also know that in the fast-paced world we live in, these things don’t come easily. And in some seasons of life they aren’t found at all. I remember the early days of parenting, when our home was filled with the laughter and screams of small boys. Those needed moments of stillness and silence were indeed rare—and greatly treasured. I look back on those days with much fondness, but know in my heart that I’m thankful we are now in a new season of parenting.

But the worries and cares of this new home, as well as the added joyful burden of an extremely energetic—and currently emotionally volatile—young pup are reminding me of those sideways days of young motherhood. I find my energy, my emotional stability, my inner peace, all but extinct. Little things make me snap. There is little silence, much less stillness, to be found. And little time to close my mind and contemplate the Creator who made me and loves me enough to die for me.

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Isaiah 12:2 NIV

These words speak volumes to my weary soul. “Be still…” The means by which I have always found Him. Even when I don’t realize I’m seeking Him. If I can find stillness, He meets me in my need. My cup of peace is once again filled.

While the boys were small, I had to learn to snatch brief moments of stillness in order to maintain any inner—or outer—peace. I wasn’t always (hardly ever) good at it. I tend to be a nurturer by nature, and everyone else’s needs are seen as far more important than my need for quietude.

As my boys grew, and I found myself with longer stretches of stillness, I learned to soak in His serenity. Today I once again find myself in a season where I must learn to snatch and jealously protect the brief moments of hushful calm; and I’m once again learning that I don’t think of myself and my own needs enough.

As I looked down at those oddly placed fish, I felt their angst—much more than they did, as they were already long dead. I understood what it meant to be a fish out of water. When I don’t fill my cup by spending time with my Savior, I find myself gasping for breath, breathing foreign particles of stress instead of the life-giving, life-sustaining peace He brings.

The beauty of this moment as I sit writing is that the sweet young, ever wakeful, ever in motion pup was sitting quietly chewing her bully stick as I began. The silence of the normally noisy street outside, the quiet droning of the robotic vacuum inside, and my seeming inactivity has lulled the beautiful beast to sleep. The first real rest she’s had in days. My friends, we all need a little stillness and silence in our chaotic lives. May you, too, find yours.

 

 

Rest

Did you know that there are 37 definitions for the word, REST, in the dictionary? Thirty-nine if you count the two additional definitions for the idioms, “at rest” and “lay to rest” and an additional four definitions if you include the noun and verb usage that imply “rest” as meaning  the remainder of something. That’s a total of 43 possible definitions for the one word, REST. Who knew?

Point being, of the 37 definitions of the primary usage of the word REST, there is one prevailing theme—tranquility and refreshment.

For instance, definition one of the noun form is “the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep.” Then there’s my personal favorite: “relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.” Now who doesn’t want that, right?

Rest has been on my mind a lot these past months—often as a cry for someone to give me a month alone on a deserted island—yet never quite so much as in the past two weeks, as I’ve struggled between the joyful chaos of a full house during the holidays and the personal immobilization of two illnesses in rapid succession—literally the bread for the sandwich of my holiday fun.

Lying in bed nursing the flu this weekend, I thought of the coming new year—the year that is now upon us. 2018. Each year for the past several, I have chosen a word to focus on. Sort of my guiding thought for that year. An area I want to grow in, learn more to be like, learn more what it means to have. I have chosen such words as joy and accept and grow and hope. The final half of 2017 has been so crazy that the thought of even thinking of a word to focus on seemed like way too much work for an already overloaded mind. And then I found myself in bed during the final week of 2017, with nothing but time. And my word for 2018 just seemed to fall in my lap. REST.

It’s what we all crave, isn’t it? Even when we aren’t sick. Refreshment, repose, tranquility? Relief from the things that weary and trouble us?

Remember, there are over 37 definitions for the word, REST. Should be plenty of food for thought for the next twelve months. Right off the top of the list, I see several definitions that have to do with shelter and support. Take definition 10, for example: “a place that provides shelter or lodging for travelers, as an inn.” Or 11, which states, “any stopping or resting place.” This is where my new word takes direct aim at my weary heart.

What is our faith for if not for that? A stopping or resting place? A place to find refreshment and repose…tranquility of soul and mind. Jesus offered this to us when He offered to carry our burdens. (Matthew 11:28) But how often do we really lean into this promise? Really?!

I know for myself I have tried way too hard over these last many months to fight the battles life has dished without leaning on His guidance and peace. Without stopping to seek His rest, His refreshment.

I am not sure what kind of year 2018 will be…I learned enough in 2017 to not try and guess the temperature of the year by the heat of my own hopes and desires (you might rightly guess that my toes are currently freezing underneath my desk as I type these references to temperature—sorry, my new home is poorly insulated). After all, I thought 2017 was going to be a stellar year. Well, it was stellar, as in brilliant, but not necessarily as a shining beacon of joy. More like a flaming meteor barreling down to explode all over my universe in a cosmic display of discord. I digress.

So what will 2018 bring? The one thing I know it will bring is more confusion and chaos in my home—while the builders try to right all the many wrongs they managed to build into one small house. That thought does not make my flu-fighting, world-weary body any less tired or rested. In fact, quite the opposite.

So REST is the word I choose for 2018. Because I know I need to constantly recenter my eyes, my heart, my focus on the One true source of rest in the crazy, chaotic, world I live in. I need to fully understand what rest is and how He provides it for me…for all of us. And most importantly, I need to fully surrender that part of myself that refuses to let go and let Him handle the stress of the cares of the world, while I get on with the day-to-day living. REST.

While the world is building castles out of sand, creating mountainous to-do lists with their New Year’s resolutions, my resolution is simple. REST. Find refreshment in the arms of Jesus. And hold tight and close to that refreshment, even during the storms that come. Because storms always come. Even when you don’t expect them. Even when the skies are clear. And rest is always needed in order to be strong enough to weather them.

And now, I’m going to sign off…and go rest. Happy 2018!

The Call of the Equatorial Sun

The Ruins of Rumicucho - 1984
The Ruins of Rumicucho – 1984

Africa! A place on a map. A place I’ve never been–one of many. A place I always dreamed of going to, but never thought that I would. A continent a world away from the one in which I live–both literally and figuratively. I am going to Africa.

The opportunity first came up back in May. I ignored it, although the thought of going continued to pop into my head at random moments during almost every day this summer.

The decision to actually go came rather suddenly just a few weeks ago. When my dear friend asked the direct question of if I was going and that I had mere days to decide, I said yes. It felt right, somehow. I felt like it was the right thing to do. And when my dear husband–who has difficulty “allowing” me to travel on my own (with four almost grown sons) to another state within my own country–says he thinks I should go, then it is a foregone conclusion that I should go. So–I am going to Africa.

Back in May, I listened to a couple of incredibly beautiful and God-inspired ladies speak of something that has been a passion in my heart since my teenage years–the plight of the poor and maltreated throughout the world–and what their fledgling company is trying to do to make a real and sustainable difference. Their words tugged–not at my heart–although the stories they told of women in sex trade in India finding opportunity to save themselves and their children, did bring hot tears to my eyes.

Their words tugged on that rarely used part of my brain–rational thought. What they said just made sense. What they are trying to do, simply made good sense to my mind. Charity doesn’t work. Look at the track record. We have given charity for centuries–the poor still exist. The war lords and pimps still lord it over the weak and the small. Have you ever been given a gift that you wanted, but once you were given it, it didn’t seem to make the impact you expected?

I remember the first paycheck I received for freelance graphic design work. It was a very small check, but I had earned it, on my own, without any help at all. It was my thought, my creative talent that had earned me that paycheck. The talents that God has so richly given me had been used to earn that money. I spent it on something totally frivolous–a new camera. It wasn’t the best camera out there; probably not even the best one that my money could afford. But it was the camera I wanted and I bought it. I protected that camera, coddled that camera, made certain that it was always clean, safe and well-taken care of.

A year or two later, my wonderful hubby, in his knowledge of my love of good cameras and in his love for me, bought me the latest/greatest model of MY camera. It was “better.” It was “newer.” It had more bells and whistles–and for months, it stayed in the case while I continued to use MY camera. Even now, years later, while I now use the newer camera more often, if one of the kids needs to borrow a camera I hand them the newer one before I hand them MY camera. MY camera is special to me–I earned it.

I believe that every human being has this deep-rooted desire built into their system. Not only do we all want to be loved, to be needed, to be understood and appreciated, but I believe that all humans need to be self-reliant…to be industrious.

Trading Hope, is one of many these days offering the opportunity of micro-finance loans and business training to people in need in third-world countries. Trying to ease the struggle for millions of families throughout the world, by helping them help themselves work their way into a better and stronger life. This made sense, and tugged on my entire soul like nothing ever has before. So–I am going to Africa.

Trading Hope is taking this business model one step further–they are offering an expanded market for the women who run these businesses, creating a market for their goods in the richer, western world through direct sales. They offer these women a place to sell their goods in the global community through others who are also earning a living through selling their goods, giving both more opportunity for gaining self-reliance. Hopefully, it will be a win-win situation for all involved–except for the pimps and war lords who have reigned over the downtrodden for far too long.

Trading Hope has offered a select group of individuals the opportunity to meet some of their business associates in Kenya; to see firsthand who their company is doing business with, and why it is so incredibly important to do–not just for personal profit, not just for the profitability to these women, but because it is the right thing to do for the world, for the sake of humanity.

Yes, I know that many places in Africa are very unsafe–especially for Americans–right now. I believe that many places have always been unsafe, including many places in my own home country. It is not for me to determine how or when I will meet my Maker, it for me to do what I feel is best for my life and for others. This is the lesson that breast cancer taught me four years ago this week–a lesson I have no intention of forgetting. God is in charge of my life, and until the time He calls me home, I want to serve Him.

In the book, “The Hole in Our Gospel,” the author, Richard Stearns says, “…Christ calls us to be His partners in changing our world, just as He called the Twelve to change their world two thousand years ago.” I believe that is what we all are called to do–bring light to others’ darkness, to make this world a little better, a little brighter than it was the day before. I also believe that it is through companies like Trading Hope that this can be done on a scale, larger than each individual alone could accomplish.

This call to ease the suffering of all God’s children was placed in my heart many, many years ago, when I visited the country of Ecuador as a young and naive 19-year-old. I spent four incredible months getting to know a few of the people there and seeing some incredibly beautiful places. Those months in the equatorial sun left an indelible mark on my life–and now, 30 years later, I feel God tugging me back into the equatorial sun (on the other side of the world) to learn new lessons, meet new people, and hopefully, find my place in changing the world.

The Truth Behind Depression…At Least for Me

 

I have struggled off and on with depression my entire life; it seems to be tied to an imbalance in my thyroid hormones. But whatever the scientific cause, I have noticed through the years this one truth: when I drag myself off the pity-party couch and make myself reach out to others in need around me, refusing to focus on my own inadequacies and focus instead on someone else’s needs, I find myself miraculously drifting outside the dark haze of depression and back into the groove of normal moods.

 

Ann Voskamp has once again nailed my thoughts and feelings straight in the heart–as only a fellow sufferer can, I guess. This post from “A Holy Experience” is simply too profound not to share and she has expressed my recent thoughts so perfectly that I dare not try to paraphrase…I will simply “Gift.It.Forward.Today. to you. Read and enjoy…and then share yourself with others.

 

The Balancing Act: A Mixed Bag of Emotions

Sunset on TexasThe year of 2013 is almost half over…wow, how did that happen? It seems like only yesterday I was snuggled up in my Christmas hibernation thinking about the coming year…and now that year is six months gone.

For the new year, I chose one word to focus on, to become closer to God through this one word and all of its concepts. My one word was balance. And I have to say, this year has definitely been a balancing act like no other.

Mom and MeMy mother’s long battle with cancer came to a climax and then abruptly ended, leaving me in a sea of confusion, loss and grief. But in the midst of this loss, I realized that all the things that have gone before are truly and forever gone–both the good things and the bad. Every life, however perfect, has shadows of grief and pain mixed with the good. My childhood was no different. In having now lost both my parents, I am no longer bound to these shadows. The slate has been wiped clean. All that remains is love…and the bittersweet taste of grief.

Graduation 2013My third son walked the stage and received his high school diploma, capping off a thirteen-year trek through public school academia, beginning another eight-year trek through the mazes of college and, hopefully, med school. The simple act of him crossing that stage filled my heart with pride, hope–and sadness. Knowing that three of my four sons have crossed that threshold of life into adulthood, filled my heart with longing for the simpler days of their early childhood.

The Gang's All HereI have never been one of those moms who regrets the fact that my kids are growing up. I have strived to thoroughly embrace and enjoy each and every stage of their lives. And to be honest, while I thoroughly loved them as tiny infants, the toddler and early school years drove me bonkers, and I was thrilled to have them move into the high school years. I had a much easier time once we were able to calmly carry on rational conversations without the hyperactivity of normal, healthy boyhood. But for some reason, watching the next-to-last son cross the hurdle of graduation filled me with a longing to go back to those “simpler” days.

A Proud MamaMaybe it was his graduation coming so closely on the heels of my mother’s death. Maybe I was just realizing that I am getting old. Whatever it was, it left me with an intense desire to “do it all over again” that I haven’t felt before.

This is where the balancing act comes in. How do you balance the pain of loss with the joy of futures to come? How do you choose between two emotions that are very real, very valid, and very intense?

The funeralThere are days when I feel truly bereft, lost in a sea of sadness far beyond anything I’ve ever felt. I remember that I can no longer pick up the phone and share my daily events with my mother and I feel empty and alone. Other days, I think of my son’s future years in college–and beyond–and my heart soars with delight for all my children’s dreams. Looking forward to what they will become–as well as the ability to spend some quality time with the hubby–fills me with intense joy.

I am in a season of intense emotional confusion…and I guess that is where I am supposed to be right now. During the middle years of life–when kids are growing and leaving the nest, when parents are aging and passing on to their eternal rest–emotional confusion is to be expected.

New River Gorge BridgeEach day is a bit of a roller coaster ride of emotions and I’m never quite certain which side will win out. Most days I am thoroughly exhausted from wading through the mixed emotions and thoughts in my head. Then I remember…this, after all, is what life is: a mixed bag of thoughts and dreams and emotions and memories and people, good and bad, important and inconsequential. It is the sad that makes the happy…happy. It is the grief that makes the relationship more meaningful. It is the heartache that makes the love more real. Without the contrast of dark and light, bright and shadow, there is no painting worth viewing. Without the contrast of sadness and pain mixed with the joys and laughter, there is no life. Without the balance of the highs and the lows of life, everything is simply bland, mundane, boring.

I recently read a book about the Buddhist technique of mindfulness–a state of active, open attention on the present–which is used in meditation to deal with grief and painful memories. The Buddhists believe that you shouldn’t “run away from” your painful past or grief, but that you should face it, accept it for what it is, embrace it and then move on.

Looking BackI’m not a Buddhist and have very little understanding of most of their practices, but I have to say that this is a very healthy way to approach life. Trying to run away from the pains of this world, gets us nowhere, except into more pain. We must accept the reality of the ever-changing world we live in and realize that much of what happens in this life is out of our hands. When we allow ourselves the “luxury” of grieving, when we allow ourselves to feel the pain and sorrows that we are dealt, we can better embrace the joys that get tossed into the mix of life along the way.

As a Christian, I have a Heavenly Father who longs for me to hand these burdens over to Him. He doesn’t tell me not to feel them, He doesn’t tell me to pretend they don’t exist. He simply wants to bear the weight of the suffering for me. I believe the mindfulness approach is a way to do just that. Once you have faced the emotions, you can hand them over more easily and let them go. If you try to run away from them without understanding what you are feeling or why you are feeling it, you have no ability to “hand them over” to anyone. They will continue to plague your thoughts until you accept that they are a very real part of life on this earth.

Looking ForwardHalf way through this year of 2013, I am still trying to come to terms with what it means, for me, to live a balanced life. But I do believe that the roller coaster ride I have been on these past several months has not been in vain. I believe that all the experiences of life will help me on my journey to find balance in a crazy world. As long as I lean on the Creator of the world, I will find rest in the midst of the storm…I will find balance. It just might not look exactly like what I thought it would!

“Give in to God, come to terms with Him and everything will turn out just fine. Let Him tell you what to do: take His words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and He’ll rebuild your life. Clean house of everything evil. Relax your grip on your money and abandon your gold-plated luxury. God Almighty will be your treasure, more wealth than you can imagine.” – Job 22:21-25 (MSG)

Balance in the Midst of Sorrow

I have been in shutdown mode for almost a month.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I have been busy doing the day-to-day things of life in a house with three busy sons still at home; an old, loving yet needy, dog; a chaotic kitten; and an always-on-the-go hubby. And I have been frenetically working on a photo book for my third son’s graduation in a month (no, it’s still not done, I’m only on the 7th grade!); planning the graduation BBQ, creating and mailing the invitations, and working out the details of college stuff.

Oh, and I am trying to remember that I am hosting a really cool event on Saturday for the (in)courage team. It’s called (in)RL and it’s a webinar, of sorts. It’s also a small group, of sorts. It’s also a party, of sorts. A time for women to gather in homes all over the world, and share their insights and feelings about community. Discussing how women can stay in community with each other despite the hectic, crazy-paced lives we all lead. It promises to be very insightful and a whole lot of fun…if I can simply wrap my heart and my brain around it, that is.

You see, I’m still reeling from the reality that my mom is gone.

You would think, that after 5-1/2 years of watching her battle lung cancer–knowing from the first moments of her diagnosis that she was already at stage IV–I wouldn’t be struggling with this quite so intensely or for quite so long. But the reality is, I am. She’s gone. It hurts. A lot.

She was my very best and oldest friend. And she’s gone. I can’t call her with all the stupid, mundane, daily things that she cared so much about hearing. I can’t ask her how to get an ink stain out of a white shirt, or how to poach an egg, or any of the other million things I’ve asked her over the years. Yes, I know. There’s always Google. But it just isn’t the same, somehow.

I’ve even been having difficulty wrapping my mind around the reality that it hurts as bad as it does. Can’t express it. Can’t admit it. Can’t face it, feel it, or deal with it. Simply want the pain and the loneliness to leave. And then, this morning, I read a beautiful blog written by a beautiful woman–a Pink Sister, dealing with her own fears and pains and life–and the reality of what I’m feeling hit me hard.

This week, Vicky wrote about falling…and what catches you. And as I read her post, I realized that is exactly what I’ve been doing these past few weeks–despite the apparent busy-ness of my life, the daily going-through-the-motions–I have been falling. Free falling. Into a world of grief and pain and sadness. And knowing myself as I do, I realize that if I am not careful, if I don’t find the right things to catch hold of, I will fall straight into the arms of depression. Been there before…don’t want to go there, again.

So, as I read her post, I thought of those things that catch me when I fall. Those things that keep me grounded to life and living and joy. Of course, seeing that my mind is stuck there, the first thing I thought of was Mom. How I always turn to her when I have a question, or a fear, or a joy, or anything of any purpose in my life to share or discuss. The immediate response to this thought is to take a tiny step toward the free-fall zone…falling back into the abyss. But that’s what I’m trying to get out of, so with effort, I think further.

Dew-covered grass in the sunlightI look out my office window and see the fresh spring grass, damp from overnight showers. The sun filters down through the trees, casting an emerald-yellow glow on the dried leaves below. Normally at this time of day, the birds are dancing around the lawn, picking up their morning rations…but today (probably because in my free-fall I forgot to feed them!), the yard is free from their dancing feet. Even the young robin–who has been incessantly banging his head into every window and door of our home for the past three and half weeks–is strangely absent from view. Although I hear them up in the trees, calling to one another (there’s probably a little fussing about the empty feeder, as well). A cacophony of sound in the silence of the morning.

Birds on a Better DayThese are all things that have brought me peace and balance in the past. Balance. I remember the beginning of this year, focusing on the One Word I wanted to be my focus-point for the year. Balance…the one thing I seem to have lost.

My memory verse has fallen by the wayside, in a never-ending flow of chaos and emotion. Job 22:21-25 was to be the focus of my heart and my life this year, bringing balance and purpose to my days.

The Hush of the Woods“Give in to God, come to terms with Him and everything will turn out just fine. Let Him tell you what to do: take His words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and He’ll rebuild your life. Clean house of everything evil. Relax your grip on your money and abandon your gold-plated luxury. God Almighty will be your treasure, more wealth than you can imagine.”

Which brings me to my next catching-point–God. He is my refuge. He is my strength. And yet, I have allowed myself to lose focus on Him and the peace that He brings to my life. It is not that I don’t feel His presence…I do. It is not that I don’t know He is with me…I do. It is simply that I can’t seem to dig past the fact that the lifelong friend He gave me at my birth has gone home to be with Him…and left me alone. No, I am not angry about that, not really. It is all part of the circle of life–to use an overused cliche. But it still hurts and I am still left without her and I have a lot more sadness than I ever thought possible. But I still have Him. And I still feel His love. And I still love Him. And as I sit here and allow His love to fill my heart, I am also reminded of the others that He has given to fill my life with meaning and balance and joy.

Sunlight in the TreesMy four beautiful sons. My incredibly loving–and tolerant–husband. My lazy, loving old Gordon Setter. My insanely, happy and catastrophe-creating kitten. My brother and sister-in-law, who have had the intensely painful and time-consuming task of handling all the day-to-day trials of closing out a lifetime of household memories and stuff. All my incredible friends, who have blessed me with cards and flowers and phone calls.

Even in my free-falling sadness, I have never once been left alone. I have felt love surround me each and every day. Loving hearts and hands reaching out to catch me as I fall…never allowing me to spin completely out of control, just allowing me time and space to feel the pain, admit the loss, and accept the hurt as part of life. Because that is what it is, simply another part of life.

There is no joy without a little pain or sorrow. There is no peace without a little turmoil or stress. This is how balance works. You can’t “balance” something if there is only one side to balance. You can’t remember to cling to God in times of sorrow, pain, and fear if there is no pain or fear or sorrow to face.

My life continues, even as my mother becomes a more distant memory with each passing day…but never too distant to forget. She was my first friend, my first enemy, my first protector, my first love, my first hate, my first joy, my first sadness, my first taste of faith. These things–and a million others–are never forgotten. I shall grieve just a little longer, I think–falling a little more slowly every day–and then rest once again in the arms of my Creator and Best Friend, knowing that life continues and this is how it all works. The balance of life and death and grieve and pain and joy and memory and love…

from dust to dust

good morning!

Inconsequential residue or miracle of creation?  Major annoyance or glimpse of the eternal? Dust sparkling in the sunlight…

Did you, as a kid (or maybe even last week) ever hang your head off the side of the couch and watch as the light caught the dust particles floating through the air? I remember spending hours (or what felt like hours in a young girl’s mind) hanging upside down on sofas, chairs and beds just watching the light stream through the windows and glimmer on the floating dust particles. I guess today’s over-stimulated kids would say that I lived an extremely boring existence. Maybe I did, but I found myself doing the exact same thing in adult-style just the other day.

As I was dusting the living room, the mid-morning sun came glinting through one of the windows and I noticed the dust particles glow as they floated through the light. Each tiny, inconsequential flake of dust glimmered and shimmered like iridescent diamonds as they floated gracefully back to settle on the surface of my furniture. As they flittered down toward the ground, I thought about what the Bible says about dust. Amazing that a book that discusses the many attributes of the Creator of the Universe actually takes the time to mention dust! And believe it or not, there’s a good reason why.

DSCN4090You see, according to the Bible, you ARE dust. Psalm 103:14 says: “For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.” (NLT)

And  Job asks God: “Remember that you made me from dust–will you turn me back to dust so soon?” (NLT)

And way back in the beginning of Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve: “…By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” (NLT)

Also in Psalms, it is said: “He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people!” (NLT)

There are many other references to dust and dirt and mud and clay and…you get the picture. The point is: you ARE dust. In the great, big, giant scheme of the cosmos, you are nothing more than a tiny, microscopic speck of dust. Your life is a brief blip on the radar screen of existence, you will leave and then, POOF! You won’t! Sobering thought, no?

And yet, for all your finite, microscopic, inconsequential dustiness, God created you–on purpose. God created YOU. Did you catch that? GOD CREATED YOU! He thought about you long before your parents met. Long before they discussed names for you, decorated your room, dreamed of whether you were a girl or a boy…golly, long before THEY were born, He thought of YOU. He WANTED you. Not only did He want you, He has offered to lift you out of the dirt of your life and give you a place of honor among the princes of heaven. Wow!

So the next time, you’re dusting–or sweeping the floor, or wiping that lint fleck off your shoulder–think about this. In this great big world of dusty dirt, you–YOU–are one tiny, glimmering, shining, shimmering, hopeful ray of God’s love. Brief though your life may be, you–YOU–were designed by Him, for Him, to love Him and to share His love with others. What a powerful thought, just from dusting! I wonder what would happen if I mopped?