Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It might be Hope

Someone asked me the other day what exactly I mean when I talk about Hope. She asked me "What do you feel when you say that Hope is what matters most in your life? What does Hope mean?" I use the word a lot and I suppose I haven't always realized that Hope means many different things to people. I had a hard time that day describing Hope. Of course I was able to articulate that Hope is the certain knowledge of our eternity with Christ, where everything is beautiful and nothing painful can ever touch us again. But sometimes when you're in a bad way, that description is too far off for impact.

Spring fever.

Wiapedia describes it as an increase in energy and vitality.

I go through it every year. The clocks tick at double time for an hour in the middle of March and the combination of that time change along with the seasonal transition to warmer, longer days forces my body clock all out of rhythm. Usually a light and slight sleeper I become infatuated with sleep. It's all I want all the time. For a couple of weeks I dread the alarm and during usual waking hours find myself drawn to my couch and ottoman with unyielding desire. It's somewhat torturous for an active girl like myself who is accustomed to actually enjoying both early morning workouts and a late night movie. Often both in the same day. And it's not just the lack of energy I grieve. There comes with it a certain sadness. A sense of things just being not right somehow. I truly have come to "Beware the Ides of March" and to know that for me that sense of exhaustion and foreboding lasts for a least a few long weeks.

The last couple of days however I've noticed the effect has begun to lessen. I've been able to wake before the buzzing alarm begins it's annoying lament. I find myself opening windows and drinking in the fresh green scent that only spring can usher in. Today the lonely dirt road just past the intersection outside my house beckons and I can hardly wait to lace up my shoes. Spring Fever.

I know things are only going to get better from here. I can feel my energy level rising. The sunlight that floods through my kitchen and living room makes me want to do crazy things like, wash windows and clean cupboards. These things get done in anticipation of long summer days when there will be so many better things to do. Soon fishing with the kids and taking them to the beach will trump any domestic duties on the perfect sunny day. And even the normal, the mundane and everyday, will be accompanied by brighter happier moments. The drive to work becomes something better when the windows get rolled down and the radio turned up. The sometimes chore of making supper brightens when you can do it standing outside in the late day sun over a smoking grill. Evenings are spent in leisure on the deck of a good friend with a cool, frothy drink in hand. (Last year we discovered mojitos...perhaps something new for summer 2010?) I could go on and on.

Late last night I sat in a pool of bright moonlight in my favorite chair and reflected on the last few days. I thanked God for reminding me that my energy level will fully return and for how much I have to look forward to with this change of seasons. And suddenly I realized... this is Hope! Hope is this sense that even though right now I'm just so tired and I'm still trying to come out of that December snow there is something so bright just around the corner. In the midst of March I usually forget that it's there. I can actually convince myself that spring won't be coming this year. But then a stray breeze wanders across my face or a patch of early morning sunlight on my pillow changes everything and even if I can't feel it yet, I know what comes next. And that moment right there... that's what Hope feels like for me.

Hope looks different for different people though. And I know for many of you it isn't as sunny as all this. But you still know Hope. I'm interested to know.. how do you describe Hope?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Making History

I once had a pastor who was fond of saying "World History always serves Church History." As in; the history of the world is really story of God growing, teaching, stretching, strengthening and increasing His people.

Economically, politically and religiously our country is in a very unstable place. It's easy to panic. It's easy to live in fear. I find myself asking questions like, "How much will we have to suffer Lord?" And worse still, "How much will my kids have to suffer?"

I think about World History and what some have gone through in the name of Church History, and I don't rejoice. I cringe. I don't want to have to do that. I know that God is always and only good. But, if I'm being honest, I don't really want God's goodness to be hard to understand or see. I like the kind of goodness I understand.

But, there is something about that statement that calms my soul at the core level. There is stirring in it that speaks of a Something and someOne so much bigger than even our country's social, moral and economic decline. And in that, there is Hope. Yes, World History may be painful, even torturous at times but Church History makes all that pale in comparison. Church history points to a Hope that does not disappoint.

Like the baby that is born of a ghastly intense labor and delivery to a mother delirious with the joy of his birth, if we could ask the saints who've gone before us about their trials, I can only assume those trials would be nothing as we spoke, basking in the light of our Jesus.

Lord, make us faithful. Make us strong. Stretch us and multiply us and give us courage. Keep our eyes fixed on Hope and convict of It's assurance. Help us to see the bigger picture of Church History and want to be counted in that number."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hearing voices

There's a pestering voice inside my head that likes to ask the most impractical questions or suggest the most impossible ideas.

Things like:

"Why not convince Steve to quit his job and move to Hawaii where you can open an island bistro together?"

"We should start a new church!"

"A pet monkey couldn't be that bad could it?"

Usually I shake my head at this inner voice and leave well enough alone. Still, I have to smile a little at this side of myself that still likes to envision the world through the irredescent streamers that hung inside my childhood bedroom window. There just beyond the bows of the towering maple tree that practically reached inside my room, anything seemed possible.

She's not very practcal though, the voice inside my head. She doesn't see things as they really are. She doesn't see obstacles or respect certain social rules. She heeds no warning and takes insane risks. You really can't listen to anything she says.

Lately, she keeps asking me the same thing. "Why don't people just do things that they enjoy? Spend time on things that make them happy, fulfilled, satisfied? Why do people spend so much time doing stuff that makes them crabby?"

I try to reason with her. Well, because people have to work. They have responsibilities. And because, sometimes what we enjoy isn't good for us. Sometimes we have to make ourselves find satisfaction in what we have been given to do.

She rarely buys it. I don't know why I thought she would this time.

"But like, couldn't you find time to do SOME more of the things that you enjoy, IF they're things that are okay with God?"

Hmmm.... she might have a point.

I've been asking myself this question alot lately. There is SO much that I love to do in this world. I LOVE to try a new and totally impractical recipe. I love taking a long and indulgent walk in the country, just my ipod and me, and no stop watch and no time goal. I love a glass of wine and a good book in the bathtub. I love wearing shorts and a baseball cap when it's 50 degrees and spring is still a bit of a dream. I love a cat nap in the sun on the couch in the middle of the afternoon. I love a good massage, an afternoon in the bookstore, and a cup of hot tea on the patio.

Sure...there are bathrooms to clean, laundry to fold, and appointments to be made and kept. There are phone calls to return and quick meals to prepare and concerts, games and performances to attend. All this not to mention work and family. But, I can see that my little voice is making a good point. Now perhaps is not the time to visit the Caribbean. This day it will not work to hike through a rainforest or flip a house or start a new business. But, surely everyday there can be time made to indulge a little. To really LIVE life. To not only glorify God, but to ENJOY Him, as the catechism says.

I suppose it's a bit late for resolutions this year, but as I morph from 34 to 35 I want to do it with this thought in mind... maybe, just maybe, not everything that little voice inside my head comes up with is as far out of reach as I think. Maybe I should listen to her a bit more. And definately I'm taking her advice on this one. Everyday should include some time to just do what I enjoy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Risky Dream


"Is my imagination running away or is...
all this really happening to me?
Am I a prince in a far away land filled with fantasy?
Where is reality and what are the actions that will define who I am?
I am holding on to the visions I've seen of what I could be.
More than it seems these dreams inside (show me the way to these dreams)
Blur reality's line (till there's nothing left of me)
If I could believe the dreams aside (show me the way to these dreams)
I am capable of more than it seems.
Passing through darkness into my own world.
Will I be more than when I left?
Never letting go of the lessons I learned.
This will make a change.
A change within me.
This time I won't run away.
I found the strength to face these long days.
This time I won't run away.
Till there's nothing left of me
Show me the way to these dreams."

There was this day last week when I was making breakfast and the sun was just starting to rise in this sort of beautiful pink way and it began reflecting off all of the millions of pieces of frost that were falling from the trees and the result was so stunning that I had to go sit out on my step and just watch it happen. There I was, surrounded by a world of glittering iridescent light that could only be possible via the Creator of Beauty. It was breathtaking in the way that beauty is. In the way that you know you can't hold it or capture it you can only be a part of it. It was for me, one of those moments where heaven meets earth for just a little bit and there are these audible echoes of Eden and these believable rumors of Glory and for that nano second of time I'm not caught in between.

I'm there.

I thought of this song as I was watching God work a miracle in my front yard that morning. I thought of how possible everything seemed just then. I thought about "the actions that define who I am" and how I want to hold on to "the visions of what I could be...what I should be."

Eventually I had to go back inside and finish making breakfast (and to warm up), but I was so eager to go back out and just be in that amazing world. When the kids were on the bus and I had a few minutes before work I shot out the door with excitement and ran out into the snow, but I found myself standing in the middle of all that fallen frost with the average, ordinary winter sun much higher in the sky. The newly created colors were gone. The crystal shower was over. The magic had ended.

The world has a way of doing that doesn't it? It takes a heart of great risk to believe in the possibility that "I am capable of more than it seems" for longer than a moment or two. The demands of life tear at the edges of our dreams and all too soon we realize that Narnia (the movie that inspired the song) or Narnia on earth anyway isn't really, real. Or at least it doesn't feel real, which, is essentially the same thing in this case.
But on my way to work I listened to the song again anyway. Just because. For the first time I really heard the second verse and understood it. "Will I be more than when I left...this will make a change. A change within me." Hmmm... not a change within the world. Not something everyone will see or understand. The tree's limbs will still be bare and the sun will not sink back to recreate the morning light... but I will have changed for having seen it. The change will have been within me.

There's risk in that. There's risk in believing the dream and allowing it to "blur the lines of reality". Because it requires a lot of letting go of what I thought was real. I guess that's why the song says "Till there's nothing left of me ... show me the way to these dreams."

I guess that's what life is. It's a constant unveiling of reality which turns out in the end to have been the dream all along. That's the whole point... this life... being "More than it seems." (Click here to see video)

Today I am challenged to not let the schedule or the responsibility or the distractions keep me from living the dream of reality. Today I am challenged to share that with a world who so desperately needs it... one random interaction at a time. And today, I will take a long moment to meet with my Savior and thank Him for being so real and for effecting a real change in me!