A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons


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My “About”

[You can check out the conclusion to my dilemma by clicking above on Bio and Get to Know Me.  These are soon to be followed with more new permanent sections.]

Been thinking about my “About”.  How do I define myself in a short essay that is both charming and candid?  Do I write in narrative or do I use bullet points?  How can a life long-lived be bullet-pointed?  Bullet proof? Yes!  But bullet-pointed?  How to captivate and not clobber ~ with too much information ~ “TMI” to the Millenials or to this Next-Gen group of reader/writers who scan and scour the blogosphere?

Once upon a time I would have glibly described myself:  brunette, medium build, vivacious, curious, bossy, and oh-so-serious about toeing the line, doing life well and right.  NOW?  With hair turned silver and much living in this heart of mine, it’s not so easy to tersely put out there who my multi-faceted self is.

“Look in the mirror,” I am prompted.

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I look.

Eyes brown.  Laugh lines and lamenting lines dance around them and along my mouth.  Hands wrinkled from too-many-to-count sudsy sinks filled with hot water for dishes from meals served from the heart.  Looking lower, legs and feet that carry me far and wide.

“Look again. See deeper.”  Eyes perceptive.  Mouth speaks both life and death.  These hands, they both lift and push away.  And these feet, they always bring me Home to where my Heart abides.

Our Hearth:  In winter it warms not just the air but the very atmosphere, its fire inviting respite with the warmth.  In summer, it is a resting place for memories, the stones cool to the touch.  The mantel ever changing and ever displaying things that speak connection to family, to life, to Creator-Sustainer God.

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Our Kitchen:  The one place in the Home everyone and anyone passes through.  Nourishment for body and for soul springs forth from here.  Food is a production to be plated with intention and invitation.  “Come.  Sup.  Share a story.  Life is full:  As we fill our bellies, let us fill our hearts.”

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And Garden:  Colors vibrant.  Herbs mingled with flowers abundant.  Veggies for our table.  Fresh and rich with nutrients, the nurture of these plants bestows nurture to the care-giver.  It is a circle.  It completes.

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Capturing the essence of oneself seems a task only our Creator can effectively do.  It is a task simple yet challenging.  He Who knows me best can most truthfully reveal me.  I am thankful that He knows me best because He is the One and Only Who also loves me best.  He loves me ~ AND He loves YOU, no matter what.  He knows, He cares and He loves!  He is our bullet-proof vest in this life. He is the One who keeps, covers us even when life seems to be ripped to shreds.

While studying the Book of Ruth recently, I came to this picture of a juncture in her life … an identity juncture we each must encounter if we are to be truly, authentically genuine.  Her husband has died an untimely death, as has her brother-in-law, his brother.  This leaves her mother-in-law, Naomi, bereft of both her sons, all her children.  Ruth chooses to leave her people and to follow Naomi into her homeland.  Ruth says to Naomi, “Entreat me not to leave you.” Then she proclaims,  “For your people shall be my people and your God, my God.”  In choosing to remain faithful to Naomi, Ruth ultimately meets her Redeemer, a type of Christ.  Her life and her home are established with the One God who knows her and provides for her.

This glimpse we get into Ruth’s earthly life reflects the love and care of a God who is intimately acquainted with all our ways, yet never rejects or abandons.  This relational God I follow calls me to grow ever more like Him, to love and care for others as He does for me.  My “About” is more about Him than it is about me.  My “About” speaks of His Redemptive work in my life even more than it does of my achievements or of the facets of my personality.  He is my “About” from beginning to end because HE IS Alpha and Omega.  As the sun rises and sets each day, so is My God ~ eternal, sustaining, intimate God!

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On RULES … Crayons and Coloring Books

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Splatter!  My crayons spilled out of their box onto the floor beside my desk.  “Oh, what a pretty flower!” exclaimed David Sullivan.  Funny Boy!  I giggled!

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We were only 7.

Mrs. Watkins told me to put them up back in the box and get into line for Lunch.  Girls were leading;  Boys, following.

After Recess, we colored pictures.  I was chagrined to see that several of my crayons had broken in the fall.  I was careful to use only the ones that were intact.  I didn’t like the broken ones.  I needed the black one, but since it was one that was broken, I used the navy blue.  A small tear fell from my eye as I thought about my whole box of Crayolas: ruined!

Flash forward to College.  In studying to become an Elementary Teacher, we took Art.  The Professor, who loved children and loved her students, encouraged each of us to find ourselves in artistic expression.  One class, I’ll never forget.  She encouraged us to break the Crayon Rules:  to break our crayons … and to strip off the paper around them.  Horrified at the thought, my mind flashed back to Second Grade and my “pretty flower”!

Obeying her lead, however, I exposed the bare crayon.  I began to explore ways I could use a crayon besides coloring in the lines in a coloring book.  The most fun:  turning the Crayola on its side, making big swipes of color in the pastel streaks of a morning sky.  Amazing!  How the waxy color took on depth and hue so different.  I used my fingers to rub a bit on the colors on the page, blending the edges into transition from blue to lavender to pink to yellow.  On the edge of the sky, I applied more yellow to intensify the moment just before the sun’s golden orb emerges on the horizon.

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This simple, yet complex discovery led to more discoveries about the function of Rules!

RULES.  So important to bring order and predictability to our lives.  RULES.  No society can long endure without them.  RULES.  They make a family secure.  RULES. Language, our communication with one another follows them.  RULES.  They set safe boundaries around us all.

BUT.  What happens when we break the rules?  Might there be any good reason to break a rule?  Ever??

Rebels will posture:  Weren’t RULES made to be broken, after all?

BUT.  We’re not rebels here.  Only children, exploring the extent of the boundaries.

Looking to see what lies beyond.  How far can we stretch?  Our minds.  Our bodies.  Our lives.  What if … ?

Jesus always moved with purpose and design.  Nothing He did was random or careless.  Once, He and His Disciples were hungry.  It was on the Sabbath.  As they passed a wheat field, they stopped and partook of some wheat heads to quell the rumblings in their stomachs.  CAUGHT!  Breaking the RULES!  

The Rule?  Do no work on the Sabbath.  The Second Commandment:  Honor the Sabbath and keep it Holy.  Apparently, breaking off a few wheat heads amounted to work:  Breaking the RULE of the Sabbath!  Expediency for Jesus trumped the “Fence Rule” that the Pharisees had derived from the Commandment.  Honoring the Sabbath, as Jesus impatiently pointed out, has to do with honoring God, His Holy Day.  He doesn’t ask of us to go hungry.  Who doesn’t cook or prepare a meal … or have one prepared for you on the Holy Day?

Another time, Scripture tells us that David and his men were also very hungry.  They were on the run from King Saul.  The most convenient food available was the shewbread in the Temple.   So, they partook.  Well, you’d think they’d eaten the Holy of Holies Itself.  What an offense to the priests of the Temple.  The offense was to man, however, not to God.

Or, how about you?  When you’re baking and you’re lacking a specific ingredient?  Do you not break the rule and use something else in order to break bread together in a timely way?

There are so many rules that drive our world.  There are rules for driving, rules for eating, rules for fashion – work, sports, relaxing.  There are even rules for health and for happiness.

God made each of us unique.  Some of us show our colors best from the side.  We are display of His Handiwork.  We were made to grow, to change, to expand our influence and impact.  Sometimes, we just have to BREAK THE RULES to become fully who He created us to be.

We’re not talking about immoral here.  Or, illegal.  We’re talking about not being such a rule follower that we are scared to get out of the mold that confines us, that keeps us stuck in the mire of regrets or the fear of changing because of what lies ahead.

We’re talking about living outside the box, living large, because that is precisely what He created us to do.  He created us to be creative!  His is a mobile, a fluid creative work in each of us.  In the Psalms, 104:30, I find a cry that echoes within my being:  Send forth Your Spirit, and we shall be [continuously] created, and renew the face of the earth.

And in John 10:10 He tells us that He intends we have Life and Life MORE ABUNDANTLY.  That, my friends, is what our Creator, Sustainer God wants for each of us.  Not a life of rule-keeping, but an expansive, generous, scandalously lived and loved Life.  

Scandalous!  Does that shock?  It doesn’t God because He Himself Loves scandalously, which means NOT counting the cost, but rather giving without reserve.

God’s Grace and His Mercy toward us is scandalous!  It defies logic and common sense.  IT BREAKS ALL THE RULES.

Read Hosea this week, a short book late in the Old Testament, tucked between Daniel and Joel.  Think of yourself as Gomer.  And remember how Hosea stayed the course with her out of his scandalous commitment, his unwavering love not even so much for Gomer as for his God.

Then, grab some crayons, break them up, color your life expansively, generously, scandalously, because You are made IN GOD’s IMAGE!

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A Tisket, A Tasket …

A BASKET! 

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Ever consider how to organize your stationery, having everything together?  Or, collecting your socks so you can find the color and texture that fits the day?  How about storing your toilet paper so that fresh roll is reachable?  When Life seems to be out of control, try using a basket!

Keep your change .. and FIND your CHANGE .. in a BASKET!

How many times does a basket of some sort or other catch your eye and your fingers when you’re shopping or just browsing?  Baskets are intriguing:  they may be simple or complex.  Some even multi-task with several compartments for holding and separating.

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In Seasonal changeovers we find that practice from early childhood ~ collecting like things together ~ a valued skill.  A BASKET is often just the thing.  When removing or bringing in new collections of things, putting them in a basket will help the transition.  Usefully, these weavings vary in size and substance.  They may be wood or wicker, plastic or metal.

You may want a basket for the look or for the function or both.  You may use it for temporary or for permanent.

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Look around you right now.  How many do you have in use in your study, your kitchen, your abode?  How many of these woven wonders do you own?

There is a problem with baskets:  When you want one, it has to be of the right size, shape and strength for the purpose.  So, if you are into baskets, you have to heap up your baskets.  That creates a problem in itself:  the storage of all those baskets!  Enter the ubiquitous plastic containers!  These in essence are modernized baskets.  They serve similar function but lack the BEAUTY of a crafted basket.  For some, pegs serve both to show off basket waiting to be filled and to keep them at the ready.  Whether out of sight or out in the open, the problem warrants the solution.

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The Autumn Season calls for baskets.  Bringing in the harvest calls for baskets.  Decorating our homes calls for baskets.

Even Childhood calls for baskets.  Image

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Reflection on the simple and the familiar brings welcome respite for my soul.  With BEAUTY woven in, I am stirred let go of the tasks yet-to-do and embrace the moment.  Although I may meet that moment with a sigh, I am learning to hug these moments with child-like exuberance.  Maybe you, too, feel a stirring to let go and hug this present moment in the basket of your Heart.  Only your Heart can tell you what to let go and what to hold.

See them, your BASKETS:  Empty or full ~ these little and these large ~ let them serve you.  May a new appreciation for the ministrations of THE SIMPLE BASKET be instilled in you.  May you find yourself all at once stilled.

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Designed, Designated, and Delivered

Finding my way in this new place of Being.  I look inward.  I look outward.  Is this a NEW ME? Or, is it simply an extension of the ME I’ve become?   It FEELS different than a simple change;  feels more like when I just realized I was pregnant.  Yes, that’s it!  I feel pregnant.  But this time I am pregnant with WORDS:  thoughts, feelings, pictures, music ~ lyrics for the soul.

There are heart healing and heart holding WORD of LIFE rising up from within. These words are no longer just for me.  I can no longer contain them.  The gestation has been long, longer that the growing of an infant within.  How long is the gestation of God’s Gift, His Creative Acts in His Created Ones?  For each of us, the time varies.

There is a Scripture I walk upon, a Truth I experience.  Psalm 104:30 tells us:  “You send forth Your Spirit and they are created and renew the face of the earth.”  The verb create there means a continuously creating.  Our Creator God does not just make us once; He is continuously creating us afresh!  We see it again as we read, “The LORD’s loving lovingkindnesses never cease; His compassion never fails. Great is His Faithfulness; His mercies are NEW every morning,” in Lamentations 3:22-23.

There is a swelling inside of me; His promises will come to fruition.  There is a longing to see what He continues to create.  I am being renewed ~ being made new again.  And so might you be! Can you feel it?  Can you sense it?  Are you also being drawn inward and outward, like the threads in the needle in the Tapestry?

The Time has come.  Bring forth what I have created in you.  With your words and your heart cradled in Mine, you, too, will renew the face of the Earth.

LORD, this day I ask You to birth anew the Creative Power in each of Your Children whose eyes fall upon these words.  I pray that we will SEE Your Gracious Fingerprints around, above and below.  Inspire, encourage us to BECOME Your Glory-Filled NOW Design!