Monday, April 23, 2007

just the five of us

I had myself a little walk Sunday afternoon ... just a quick little 78 minute stroll down the Centennial Trail. Dave was tired from being up at 4:00 a.m. to go over his sermon notes; I took pity on him and insisted he take a nap. He argued only enough to save face. By the time I tied my shoes and put my hand on the front door, snoring drifted from the bedroom. He'll probably love that I shared that.

Dave wasn't with me, but I wasn't alone. I brought along four of my oldest friends. Randy Stonehill. Roby Duke. Billy Crockett. And Michael McDonald, thrown in for good measure.

How did I live before iPods hit the scene?

Randy sang to me about a girl named Rachel Delavoryas, whose violin music drifting from an upstairs window failed to mask the pain of her isolation. I heard, and I remembered wanting to walk those stairs and meet that lonely girl, the first time ... the tenth time ... I heard the story.

Billy pointed out that along the path, whenever my eyes caught the smile of a passing cyclist or walker, unseen lines connected our hearts. And I remembered the summer I sat in my garden with an old thrift-store boom box stretched to its limit, trailing a fat orange extension cord. While I yanked weeds and planted carrots, I rewound "Lines" again and again, because I couldn't believe someone put my thoughts so clearly to music.

Michael ... well, Michael set my pace. What did I remember as he bemoaned the fact that he "keeps forgettin' we're not in love anymore?" I suppose for the briefest of seconds, I remembered eighth grade, when the boy who loved me one week decided he loved the girl across the aisle the next. But I'm 45 now. The sting is gone.

And then Roby walked with me awhile. He called me "friend," just like he did all winter the year I first heard his voice. He sang about the place I long for most, and the fact that when I cross that last bridge on this long journey, I'll find no broken hearts there. And I remembered when my heart was Jesus-new but hurting, because I couldn't reconcile the great chasm between my Savior and His Bride. In Roby's words, I found strength to believe that truth was truth, and no matter who hurt me here, my healing would be found there.

I didn't want to turn for home. I didn't want to risk leaving my mood somewhere along the trail, lost in the stink weed, unseen by the health-seeking masses, forgotten, abandoned. I think I could have walked straight into darkness, except that right in the middle of a verse, my battery died. I actually looked down at the thing, looked back over my shoulder, and thought, Now how am I supposed to get home?

We're all charged up now. And tomorrow afternoon, if the weather holds, I'm thinking the boys and I will head back down the trail. I'm still hankering for yesterday.



Saturday, April 21, 2007

this moment

It's just a bowl of oatmeal. Scotch cut; nonfat milk; a hint of real maple syrup, added in a last-second burst of indulgence. The coffee is a tad on the cool side--enough to notice; not enough to drive me from this chair. But I ground it just seconds before it met my French press, and the smell, as it rises to my lips, is so potent I have to pause to draw it in deeper.

I'm conscious of the fact that when I go downstairs to heat this cup, I'll also have to deal with the stove, because while I sat upstairs in a posture of gone-away delight, listening to an old Billy Crockett CD (I so love Billy Crockett), that oatmeal boiled over and left a milky puddle beneath my burner.

I'm conscious, too, that in a moment, I'm going to have to forget this oatmeal, forget Billy, and turn my attention to the document hiding just beneath this blogger page. An editing deadline looms.

But in this moment, I need to look up. He's there ... and it's my turn to speak.

How often do You do this, Lord? How many uncaught hints do You send in an ordinary day?

It's just a bowl of oatmeal. But I'm aware of something sobering. He could have just given us Manna. He could have run the calculations, gone to the kitchen, and pulled out the one item that would keep our bodies blinking and breathing and crossing space. One flavor. One texture. Manna.

He could have skipped the whole notion of coffee beans.

He could have stopped just short of breathing rhythm into being ... and we wouldn't have known. Our lives would be stilled and silent. No soundtrack. No angst. No moments where we caught the heart of another in the lines between lyrics. We would have lived and died without once closing our eyes in a stark moment of connection and shared worship.

And we wouldn't have known. We wouldn't have known.

It's just a bowl of oatmeal. It's just coffee. It's just music.

Oh God, how You love us.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

daddy dearest

I'll tell you what ... I'm going to make good and sure I never do anything to make Alec Baldwin mad at me.

Baldwin's tirade against daughter


Saturday, April 14, 2007

watch me grow

How does it happen so quickly?

Just a few short memories ago, Andy was a big-eyed four-year old showing me his favorite red truck. In an hour, he'll arrive with a new show-and-tell: a fiance named Nichelle. I don't remember watching him cross the line from child to adult ... but here he is.

Just a few short memories ago, Zac was a wide-eyed six-year old standing on my sister's front lawn, alternating gawks between a controlled burn on a long-gone house, and the firemen handling all those flames. I remember with heart-hurting clarity the impassioned look on his freckled face when he turned and announced, "I'm going to be a fireman, Mom." As I type this, Zac is home from his first attempt to get into the firefighter academy. He passed the written; passed the physical with flying colors (he actually had the best time in three of the events), and looked the part when he headed out for his oral exam. His appointment--apparently--was at 1420 (military time), but in the translation, he'd written down 2:40. That means this attempt is over.

He loosened his tie and sat in the doorway of my office to tell me his news. Those long legs (did I mention he's 6'2" now?) filled the doorway and spilled out into the hall. He's disappointed, naturally, and embarrassed about the mix-up. But he put the right spin on things. "It must have happened for a reason. I'll just try again next year."

Next year will be here before you can say, "Watch me grow." Andy and Nichelle will be married. The puppy at my feet will be bigger. Tera will be taller. Zac's legs will likely be longer, and I'll be ironing that dress shirt for round two.

Oh, Lord, help me capture these minutes and memories.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


See that cup? A half hour ago, it was filled to the brim with frothy swirls of espresso and steamed milk. I wanted to savor each sip, but I couldn't keep my hands off for long. Now it's but a happy memory.

The really nice thing about that cup is that it was free. It seems I stood in line at Panera for just a bit longer than the lady behind the counter felt comfortable with. We had a nice talk while she made my latte, and then when I pulled out my wallet to pay, she waved my money away and said, "You had to wait too long for this."

That was a nice surprise. Almost as nice as the free wireless that came with my free latte. I still can't believe I live in a time where you can whip your Mac open and just check your email--just like that, with no modem, no cords, no hassle.

Two happy little surprises. But they don't compare to the surprise I got earlier this week, when I spoke with a long lost cousin (and friend) for the first time in twenty-six years.

How do those years go by? Why do we let people go? I don't have an answer. I just know I'm thankful events transpired in such a way that Tracy found my number and called. Hearing his voice brought on a memory fest; I've spent the last few days letting myself go back. I've been eleven again this week ... and fifteen ... and nineteen. I've remembered faces and laughter and happy times, and though it's made me grieve for some who are lost to me forever, it's made me grateful for those who remain.

The sun has just broken through the gray canopy we've been living under for three days. One bright shaft finds its way through the bronze scaffolding outside the cafe and bathes my table in warmth. Sitting here in this place, warm and happy and thankful, I can almost forget yesterday's rain.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

isaiah 53

If Jesus had not left the beauty of heaven, where He was adored and worshiped as God, and entered humanity through a dark, obscure cave;

if He had not endured betrayal by the ones He loved most,
and stood silent while mere humans plucked out His beard
and spat on His face,
and struck,
and whipped,
and accused,
and mocked Him;

if He had not lifted and carried the rough instrument of His death,
and laid His hands against the cross beam,
and accepted nails into His flesh;

if He had not hung there
with His blood dripping down into the sand below,
and His prayers of forgiveness ascending to His Father above,

then we never would have received the comfort of Isaiah 54, or the promises of Isaiah 55.

Instead, we would have inherited exactly what we deserve:


But Jesus did come.

The Trade (written and sung by Brett Williams); I Cling to the Cross (written and sung by Paul Baloche)



Thursday, April 05, 2007

calvary girls

What I didn't tell you, when I wrote last week's post, was that I managed to get the baby and myself in trouble during worship. From across the aisle, she reached for me. I reached back. We smiled, and wiggled our fingers toward each other. And she began giggling ... loudly. Well, look at her. You'd play with the child too. Her dad, Ian, actually turned her car seat around and put the hood up so she and I couldn't keep up our across-the-room conversation. But he shot a grin at me to soften the blow.

Last night, Alexia asked me to take her out of the car seat and carry her to my chair. Don't ask me how an eleven-month child verbalizes such longings. She just did.

When I told Ian what Alexia wanted, he smirked, but gave me his permission. And so, during the first three worship songs (before she got just a bit too happy and I was forced to take her to the nursery), I got to hold that warm, wiggly body and stroke that silky black hair. She rocked back and forth in time to Jeff's guitar strums. She reached for Dave's phone, clipped to the right side of his belt. She stared at my nose. She waved her hands at Sally and Hannah, sitting behind us. She played with her favorite toy, a plastic turkey leg. And she stole what little bit of my heart she hadn't already possessed.

While I was loving Alexia and thanking God He thought to make her, we sang an old favorite. The words couldn't have been more appropriate.

Father of lights
You delight in Your children
Father of lights
You delight in Your children
Every good and perfect gift comes from You
Father of lights

Sometimes, we have to get in touch with our own heartbeat before we can hear His. That baby isn't even mine, and yet I am completely delighted with her. I can't get enough of her tiny fingers, her soft little cheeks, and that contagious giggle. I think she's perfect.

And while I was thinking those thoughts and singing those words, God made me really hear them.

Father of lights
You delight in Your children

It made my heart lurch a bit to realize what He was telling me, because I know myself and I know I'm not as lovable as He thinks I am. But there it was. He's delighted with Alexia, and Sally, and Hannah ... and me.

Oh, how blessed we are to be His.