A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons


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Another Year Lies Open Before Me

I stand on the cusp of a New Year ~ one now ending, another beginning.  No, I don’t have my months messed up!  I know that tomorrow is the 1st day of May:  May Day!  A beautiful day to be born!

Now more years than I can realize, I have been celebrating that I am!  More years than I can remember I have enjoyed blessings galore, wafting down upon me like some rainbow-colored confetti sprinkled by the Hand of God.  One in particular I do remember:  the year I turned ten!

I have a Grandboy who just turned ten last week.  Was I ever the age that he is?  All fresh and expectant, knowing that a mix of good and not-so-good lies in wait?  I was 9 turning 1~0, two digits, for probably the rest of my life.  What a turning!

After school, I was to meet my mother at the school flag pole.  Unbeknownst to me, so were the members of my entire Brownie Troop!

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They’d each received an invitation a few days before ~ in code ~ so they wouldn’t forget it was to be a S.U.R.P.R.I.S.E Birthday Party.  They’d been invited to “teem ta eht galf elop!” To read the invitation, each had had to figure out that it would only be understood by holding it up in front of a mirror!

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Now how that was determined, I don’t know, but there they all were.  And off we went on a hike to the local museum called “The Pink Palace”.  Now the Pink Palace was one of my most favorite of all places to be.  It had birds’ eggs – lots of them – in nests.  And it had fossils.  It even had a shrunken head ~ yuk!!

Where we were going, though, on this my 10th Birthday, was to the Planetarium in the museum.  The ambiance (I surely didn’t know that word then!!) of the room where we could see STARS was mysterious and wooing.  It was also my most favorite room in the entire museum.  You got to sit in these wonderful, cushy chairs that reclined when the stars came out.  Just before they did, the ceiling became this warm, rosy color as if the sun were setting right where you could almost reach out and touch it.  Such peace! Such amazement!  Such wonder!  We learned of the heavens just as they were at that very time and season.  We heard names like “Orion’s Belt” and “the Seven Sisters coming home from their Bridge Party.”  We saw where we could find the Little Dipper pouring into the Big Dipper in the heavenlies that very night.  We saw how the stars rise on the horizon and set just like the sun on the other side of the expanse of night sky.

And I learned in those days at Sunday School words from the Psalms like:  The Heavens declare the Glory of God and the firmament displays His Handiwork.  Day unto day utters speech and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19)  I learned of a Creative God whose Power extends beyond the confines of this limited sphere we call Earth.   I learned that He is a speaking, communicating God who desires communion with His Children.  I got a glimpse then, sitting in that dynamic ‘Simulator of the Heavens’ of our Omnipotent, Omniscient God which became formative for my worship of Him for the rest of my life.  It fit with the Catechism I was learning, too.  “What is the Chief end of Man?”  “To glorify (worship) God and to enjoy Him forever.”

I stood then on another cusp, a point of transition between two different states; I was transitioning from childhood with a rapid trajectory into what we call today the ‘Tweens.  I would no longer be a ‘Brownie’ when I entered Fifth Grade; I would be a full-fledged Girl Scout.  I no longer would be a Big Sister to one Little Sister, but soon would be Big Sister to a Little Brother, as well.  I would wear that role like a Badge, “mothering” this little one as if he were my own.  I would have more chores at home and more privileges to go out and travel farther from home.  In fact, I could now walk to the Pink Palace with my friends ~ all by ourselves ~ without a Grown-Up!

Tonight as I transition into yet another year of growth and challenge, another year of surprises and blessing, I look out from where I am with Hope.  I want to be a Light shining in the darkness of these changing Times.  I want to season the lives of others with my words and with my heart-felt presence.  I want to be Salt, helping to preserve what is to be treasured from the past, and adding fresh spice to what is lies ahead.  I am truly most blessed!

birthday cake with lots of cute striped candles shot on a red background

 

 

 


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(in)REAL LIFE Story

Listening in my heart hasn’t always been easy.  I have wanted to hear God from way Little.  But, you see, I have this impediment in my heart.  It blocks out at times the sounds even of Love.  It holds me captive to myself:   my agenda, my image.

But, on Saturday, there was this shifting of Seasons in my life!  I experienced it first-hand ~ saw and heard how it doesn’t matter the outer “Dressing” of our lives ~ our homes, our skills, our “perfected” decor, our clothes (of course).  Rather, it IS truly ALL ABOUT THE HEART ~ all about JESUS’ HEART actually ~ what’s on the inside.  What’s on the INSIDE?

I had heard the message many times over.  Taught it even ~ many times over.  But Saturday was different.  Saturday I truly believe the message finally was steeped into my heart of hearts,

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Late last year, two words dropped into my mind.  I listened with my heart.  And I heard IMMANUEL ~~ and ~ STORY.  Since it was nearing the Christmas Season, IMMANUEL made sense.  It fit the Song of the Season.  And to carry the sense of HIs Abiding ~ His ALWAYS WITH me ~ Presence for a whole year, that too made sense.  But the other word ~ STORY ~ the two just somehow didn’t seem to fit together.  In fact, I found the two words side by side almost jarring, startling.  Was I hearing from God, or was this just me?

As I shopped around, seeking how I might display these two words in our home, they remained surprisingly elusive.  The year before the words were HOPE ~ STILL.  There were many things readily available to choose to keep those words before my eyes and heart all year.  But not this time.  Even in the post-Christmas sell offs, I could not find IMMANUEL!   He had gone missing, this One Who promises to ALWAYS ABIDE NEAR.

And STORY .. what is my story?  Can I tell my story?  Can I tell it well?  My story, you see, has been a long time in the forming. It has many twists and turns with some very dark nooks and crannies. It has taken years to pull out by the roots the UGLY that existed in my soul.

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In my family of origin I had the auspicious nickname of  “Sharp Elbows”.  Does that tell you anything?  Do you think I might of been a wee bit pushy?  Overbearing?  Full of myself?  Controlling? You betcha ~ and not just a wee bit either.  I was the eldest; I was the first born; I had it all together.  If you could be just like me, you would be fine, fine, super fine!  And if you would do it my way, then we’d both be fine, fine, superfine!  And if not, well ….  You get the drift!  I was a Performer.  It fit the role I had in my family:  the role of Hero Child.  I performed well.

Then along came Jesus .. and He turned this self-centered world of mine upside down.  He said, “Come!  Receive My Love.  Receive Me.  Let Me live in and through you.  Then you will be empowered by my Holy Spirit to be like Me!”  I did and He has.  But, let me repeat, it has taken a long lifetime of stumbling and getting back up to find that perfect is not what He wants.  Obedience is how He knows I love Him back (I John 2:5; I John 4:19).  Obedience and obedience only.  He’s done all the work.  I need only Trust and Obey!

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So, we, a small group of women seeking to follow Jesus more fully, met together in front of the TV screen on Saturday to watch pre-recorded videos on (in)RL, this World-Wide Conference of Women using virtual space to tell their many stories.  This (in)REAL LIFE brought together the broken and the healing through God’s Redemptive work in lives trusting and obeying Jesus.  As we heard story after story after story of rejection and fear and loss and sadness and abandonment but in each hearing the OVERCOME, the words IMMANUEL and STORY finally meshed.  They overcame by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. (Revelation 12:11)

I see more clearly now.  I hear more dynamically now.  It is not by my effort.  It is not in the doing.  I can tell others this Truth.  But the hard part has been believing it in my own relationships, in the living it out in my own life.  I have fallen, slipped back into unrealistic expectations, into perfectionistic thinking and valuing.  And He who is Faithful, He who is WITH me always, picks me up.  He asks me to face Him.  To turn away from the Old Me and embrace the New Me in Him.  I am made NEW! (II Corinthians 5:17) This is a NEW SEASON in my life.  I see clearly now:  the OLD has passed; it is gone.  I am turned!  I am gazing fully toward my Saviour!

I see transformation ~ how it looks ~ in this Glorious Shifting of Seasons .. this Re-Birthing of flowers and trees and flying bees and creepy, crawly bugs.  It’s there in the song and the dance of the birds on the wing.  A.L.L. happens W.I.T.H.O.U.T. our effort.  It’s. not. in. our. doing!  We ~ the created ones ~ cannot create anything so beautiful, so perfected as Nature in the Spring.

My heart, it is turned.  I am facing away from my ugly, my self-center.  I am turned toward Jesus for He tells my heart who He is and who He created me to be.  He tells my heart that my story is unique and it is needed.  He is IMMANUEL:  His is My Story, Our Story.

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Because the virtual setting for this virtual (in)REAL LIFE Conference is a Beach House, we enjoyed a beach-y decor.  And we each created a Shell Story as a way to tangibly hold onto this Day of Stories we shared.  We picked a shell that became the feature, a shell that looked in some way like each of us felt as we considered our own story.  After placing it in a small planter filled with sand, along with a candle to illuminate IMMANUEL, we added a few more shells to embellish our story.  Then we took pictures to hold onto each other, to remind us that we need each other in community.  Our Jesus Sisters are such a needed part of our STORY.  Jesus knows!  And He is right here in our midst!

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