I HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE “ZONE” now for seven months! (gasp)
I have some free time now, and I’m energized and more like my normal self. Decluttering–not writing–is currently at the top of my agenda (I’ve been inspired by Becky’s blog about minimalist lifestyle, and I’m stoked to try some of her ideas in 2018). But I still have two pet projects that I’m determined to publish this year; and since my friends and family appreciate the personal touch, here’s a recap of 2017:
There were some growing pains. Old family “skeletons” came out of their closets. Idols toppled. There was a lot of pressure at home and at work, and many adversities that only God knows about.
My brain was tired, and my heart was tired.
I was tempted to shed faith and morality like a dress that doesn’t fit anymore. I had to re-evaluate my convictions and my relationships while getting involved (way over my head) in the family business; and I found out just how hard it can be to juggle business and personal life. I crept out of bed in the mornings like an old woman, feeling disoriented, depleted, stuck in a rut, missing my dreams and wanting them back (you know the feeling).
My little niece had a meltdown one day because nobody had time to play with her, and I picked her up and burst into tears like a real basket case, much to her surprise as well as mine.
STAY, MY RESTLESS HEART, my wandering feet. The way of escape is here. The place of newness and purpose is here too. Not in the next adventure, the next accomplishment, the next good deed, the next admirer.
Stay and look up, above the spectacles, the sensations, the vanity. There is a cross up there in the sunshine, strong and plain, beckoning you back to Contentment. Back to your First Love–the Christ who willingly went “like a lamb to the slaughter.” Back to the Christ who healed the pastor’s broken marriage and rescued him from the cartel.
How many kings and priests and prophets of ancient times longed to see what you see? You belong to someone, not something. You belong to a person, not a religious tradition or ideal. It is nothing less than the precious body that was broken like bread and the precious blood that was poured out like wine. “God With Us.” God for man and man for God. God and man, reconciled in the person of Jesus Christ.
When I was little, a man on an airplane asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Naturally, I hugged my doll close to my heart and said, “I just want to be a mommy.” (I took that doll everywhere, and then I lost her somehow and cried about it for years.)
I was raised to be a housewife, like my mother and my grandmothers and my great-grandmothers. I grew up amid the sub-cultures of two extremely large and traditional families. When one of my cousins from my mother’s family married one of my cousins from my father’s family, I was related to nearly everyone at the wedding. One of my cousins called me the morning of the wedding to ask if she could borrow something to wear. She’s the mother of eleven, soon to be a grandmother. So, obviously, our cradle has been crazy blessed, and the fact that I haven’t yet done my duty to society is so unorthodox, by our standards, it’s almost immoral. But it isn’t because of an absence of desire on my part.
God calls those things which are not as though they are–and I do the same.
Nothing is as painful as love that has nowhere to go, no way to spend itself, and so it makes me happy to think that there is something I can actually do for you today. I just have a few things in my heart that need to get out, and I won’t try to be witty or poetic. I’ll do this now, and someday when I have you in my arms, fresh and sweet with promise, I’ll gladly put my pen away and probably never reach for it again.
The grandmother who I never met became a mother when she little more than a child herself and died young. “No wonder,” people gasp, “after giving birth nineteen times!” But if they asked her she would have told them that delivering all those babies was the easy part. It was actually the child-rearing more than the child-bearing that put her in an early grave.
The pretty teacups that she left behind were all broken and glued back together. Her homemade dresses were folded tenderly away in my grandfather’s dresser drawers.
We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.–2nd Corinthians 1:9 NKJV
The eyelashes of morning fan across a blushing sky and Peter laughs with his friends over a catch of fish so bountiful that their net is too heavy to pull into the boat. The net is not as full as Peter’s heart, though—for death has become its own executioner, just as the Lord said, and there’s an empty tomb to prove it. Sorrow has turned into joy. Night has turned into day. But Peter, formerly so passionate, now doubts the warmth of his own affection. He still can’t hold his head up when he remembers what a miserable failure he was—how cowardly and blind and unfaithful. And is that a twinge of insecurity that he feels toward John, favored “baby brother” of the gang, who is (of course) the first to realize that the friendly stranger on shore is really The Resurrection and The Life? Peter, always impulsive, leaps into the water.
She’s like a little girl trapped in an old woman’s body, so fragile yet so strong, visibly shrinking while the cancer eats her alive (but pride and fear, she says, have robbed her more than cancer). Morphine takes the edge off. She still makes me laugh somehow. Her bed is her home and it has to be made perfectly. I sing as I work in the kitchen, to keep her company. Tears run down her face when I leave. She is curled up, facing the wall. I promise to return, but every step is agony. “I’ll see you later…” She flies away like a dove to her rest, under a big blue October sky. She doesn’t wait for me to come back. I sprinkle dirt on her coffin, thinking about what could have and should have been different. The wages of sin is death… the sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law… the last enemy that will be destroyed is death… O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? I get up every day and thank God for my health, singing I Know You by Heart and Angel to myself. I know what the “sting” feels like now. It feels like separation and regret.
The sky is opal. Morning steals in through a window, gilding my bedroom, breathing on my face like wisps of silk. It feels as if there’s been a death in the family, although there hasn’t—only the death of a dream. I hear the faint rhythm of my own heartbeat. It feels as if I am dying too, and maybe I am. OhFather, let me go back and do the last eighteen months of my life over!
“He led me to the gate, the gate looking east, and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east.”–Ezekiel 43:1-2 TLV
MY FAVORITE PLACE IN JERUSALEM (so far) is the eastern gate, known as the Golden Gate or The Gate of Mercy–seen here from the Garden of Gethsemane, framed by the branches of ancient olive trees on the opposite hillside. It is the most noticeable feature of the eastern wall, which towers above terraced olive groves, facing the dawn. From the streets in the valley below, the iconic domes of the mosques on Temple Mount are barely visible. Though not impressive in appearance, it is the only gate with direct access to the site where Solomon’s Porch used to be. Jews believe the Messiah (Savior) will come to the temple from the east, and so (as you can see if you look closely) the double arches of this gate were sealed long ago by Muslim conquerers in order to keep the Messiah out.
Muhammad’s followers were a thousand years too late however, and by trying to prevent a prophecy from being fulfilled they inadvertently fulfilled a prophecy:
He brought me back to the outer gate of the Sanctuary looking east. It was shut. ADONAI said to me: “This gate is to be shut. It must not be opened. No one may enter through it, for ADONAI God of Israel has entered through it.”–Ezekiel 44:1-2 TLV
To the best of my understanding, Yeshua (Jesus) probably entered the city through the gate that used to be here, much to the people’s excitement, to celebrate Passover with his disciples, shortly before He was executed by the Romans and not long before the Roman’s destroyed Jerusalem. He entered with zeal and authority, calling King Herod a fox, cursing a fig tree for not producing fruit out of season for Him, driving merchants out of the temple with a whip and verbally chastising the religious leaders for their self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Yeshua would have been able to see the eastern gate whenever He preached and prayed on the Mount of Olives (where this picture was taken from). He would have been able to see it when He wept over the beloved city: “If only you had recognized this day the things that lead to shalom!” (Luke 19:42) and when He was sweating blood on the night of His betrayal. Continue reading “Beautiful Beulah”→
HE WAS CROSSING KING DAVID STREET, in Jerusalem, near the hip vicinity of Mamilla Mall. I noticed his distinctly Native American features and limber stride even before I saw the long hair dangling down his back, swinging behind him like a pendulum as he disappeared into a sweaty throng of pedestrians.
His head was high. There was a bounce in his step. No slumped shoulders and shuffling feet. No empty whisky bottle. No shame. No defeat. No Johnny Cash singing honky tonk…
Jerusalem is a colorful place. It isn’t Disney Land, it isn’t Paris, but it really is like the naval of the world. Here you might find a Baptist church led by an Assemblies of God pastor meeting on Saturday instead of Sunday, and I walk around humming It’s A Small World, because the world really does seem to shrink when you are here, surrounded by Jews, Arabs, Armenians, Druze, African refugees, foreign dignitaries, and tourists speaking almost every language under the sun…
Still, outside of the military, it’s unusual to see an American Indian so far from America.