Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Wedding Story (Two Sparrows in a Hurricane) Part 1

The Prologue
A tale that begins with water (see my first post "Old Water") inescapably ends with the same. Love and fury poured down from Heaven. And it all began with a ring in a stream. .  .and a quote from Ephesians 5. The theme of water interwoven into our story and climaxing on June 11, 2005. . . here goes. . .
The Story
Mama and Daddy have always been big believers in the Farmer's Almanac for scheduling events around weather. And we were in the clear it seemed. Prediction- sunny and hot. Our plans to get married outside in Mobile in the middle of June didn't stop me from praying for a miracle of sorts. "Lord, please, somehow, let it be 70 degrees and breezy." We wanted our loved ones to enjoy Bellingrath Gardens, share the binding of our hearts as one, and not pass smooth out on the grass from the sweltering heat.       I know. Unlikely.

Or not?

As the days grew closer and I continued wrapping up last minute details, I was at ease. I knew  I wanted to be able to relax and fully enjoy our wedding day, a day we had patiently awaited for 6 and 1/2 long years. My desire was that everyone who came would sense my ease, and they would be able to relax and enjoy it as well. There is nothing like the tension you feel when you can tell the bride is tense and on edge. So, I wanted to decrease stress by taking care of everything completely before heading to Mobile.

The Wednesday before the wedding on Saturday, I was picking up my veil at a bridal shop, trying it on with my dress, prancing around the shop, and I just happened to glance at the TV. It appeared a tropical weather system was moving toward the Gulf of Mexico, and landfall was predicted for Saturday. "Nahhh..." I told myself. "It's sure to move in another direction. They always do."

By Thursday, the reports were more precise. A tropical storm was headed straight for the Mobile area, and there wasn't a thing in my power I could do to stop it. An unexpected guest would be attending our wedding, and her name. . .

was Arlene.

Hurricane Arlene- the first of the season in 2005, and the first to hit Mobile so early in the season in over 10 years. At that time, we were holding out hope. It was still possible that she would move East, in which case, the outdoor wedding could continue underneath a tent- despite heavy rain. She could even possibly diminish enough by our 4 O'clock exchange of vows, but the likelihood of either case was diminishing, while the storm was brewing. Darn those warm Gulf waters.

Thursday was I guess a foreshadowing of sorts of the waters that were to come. I remember sitting on my Mama's bed and watching the weather channel, tears soaking the sleeves of my T-shirt as I wiped them and watched and watched and wiped them some more in disbelief. "Why? How after all this planning will it all just fall apart- be literally washed away?" The day I had looked forward to since girlhood would not look at all like I had imagined- and nothing like I had planned for the past 8 months. As a matter of fact, two days now 'til the wedding, I didn't know how it would look at all...

Arlene was on her way.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Extra Mile(s)

Well, I am going slap crazy I guess.

Friday night, I had planned to go watch the Sylva Bay Saints (my alma mater) play football at East Rankin Academy. For whatever reason, I was under the impression that East Rankin was in Brandon- right off highway 80.  I should go ahead and self-disclose a little more... um, I played basketball at East Rankin many times in high school and junior high. (But, in my defense, I was never driving.)

So, I had already planned to get there after the game began. I knew I wouldn't make it on time. I didn't plan to. As planned, I went to El Sombrero's in Clinton with some friends, finished up and headed out around 7:15- to hopefully get there around 7:45- before half-time. Heading east on I-20, the yellow lines blurred past and "Money Matters" kept me in deep thought, my imagination chasing metaphorical rabbits between "callers". Then, just before my exit, something told me to check with Mama and make sure I was headed to the right place. Well, thank you for that thought, Lord.

"No, honey. East Rankin is all the way to Pelahatchie!" Mama said. "You know. We used to go there to play basketball," she laughed. Well, I guess I DID know. Once upon a time. But not anymore I suppose. So- I had to make a quick decision. Was I going to stay committed to the course- and go the extra miles? Pelahatchie sounded a few too many miles away- and neither Mama or Daddy (I called him to get more specific directions) could tell me exactly how far. I was already going to be late- and now I would be really late. "Is this even worth it?" I asked myself. "Uggh. I should just turn around and go back home."

But, I had told my sister, who I'm sure had told my 5-year-old niece, whom I did not want to disappoint, that I was coming to meet them at the game. Now I wonder if I would have made such a commitment had I known the distance.

So. I just kept driving.

Daddy wasn't able to tell me exactly where to turn and how far it would be, but I knew the general direction. I knew there would be a Pelahatchie exit off I-20, and I told myself I would just look for the lights of the football field. (Gas stations can throw a person off by the way). So onward I went, determined to keep my commitment and hopeful that I would get to spend some good quality time with Sydney (my niece), see my nephew, Hawk, and show some support to the Saints. I never know how Syd is going to act toward me. Most times, it takes her a while to warm up and "let me in". She may not even want to see me much at all with all the fun things to do at a ballgame, I thought to myself.

Nonetheless, I kept driving.

Pelahatchie exit, back under the Interstate, toward the lights.

A little after 8, I pulled up to park with what seemed like a thousand other cars and looked for the entrance. My sister must have thought I was crazy because just as I was trying to find a gate to enter, she saw me. "Lacy, what are you doing?" We laughed. She was already inside the gate and just happened to be walking to the concession stand, but there was a fence between us. I must have looked so goofy out there trying to find my way in. She then said "Well, if you had called me, I could have saved you gas money because we're already behind 27 to nothing."

As disappointed as I was at the score, and as much as I would like for our team to win, that wasn't what had brought me all the way there. I had made a decision in my mind to come- and I felt  I had committed to Sydney that I would be there to play with her. I wasn't sure, but if she thought I was coming, I didn't want to let her down.

Then, after the game, waiting for her Mama to help feed the football team homemade sandwiches, we had the best time playing. Pretending like I was the nurse and she had a hurt leg, I had to put my watch on her leg as a brace, laughing as I called in for assistance on "her cellphone", eating ice for her medicine- we had a ball. I carried her on my back, played "follow the leader" with her to the concession stand to buy her a ring-pop and a pixy stick, and even taught her the firecracker cheer. We had a good ole time!

Those moments are far too rare these days. So I treasure them. She is growing growing, and soon she won't care to play as much with her Aunt Lacy. But that night, we played and laughed, and time seemed to be multiplied as our laughter lingered and moments slowed down. I slowed down. And I absorbed them.

And I was thankful I had chosen in a split second to keep driving- to go the extra miles. It would have been easy to turn around a drive home. But, without guarantee of how I would be received by Syd, I chose to keep driving. And I'm sure glad I did.

Lord, let me not let moments pass by. Moments to love and to give. Give me strength to hold fast to commitments and to go the extra mile when it is required. You added back to me and graced me with joy that made my journey worthwhile.  Bring this to mind when needed, Father. Amen

And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Matthew 5:41

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. Matthew 5:37

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Add To It

2 Peter 1:1-8 (NKJV)
1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,
7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

 8. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Awesome! Just after posting my blog a few nights ago, "Rotten on the Vine", I woke up the next morning and my Uncle Glenn had sent me this passage in an e-mail.

So how do we keep ourselves from going rotten on the vine? How do we keep from becoming unfruitful? We "add to". After Peter provides a formula filled with "adding to's", he points out that "if these things are yours and abound, you will neither be barrren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord..." It is an "if, then" scenario. If you add to, then you will not be unfruitful.

Speaking of "adding to", I have started a compost pile (to fertilize my garden of course). In this case, I WANT IT TO ROT! And even in the rotting process, I have to constantly be adding to to it. Empty cases of eggshells stay in my refrigerator until I haul them, along with potato peelings and other vegetable scraps, down to the pile to add to it. Every time we mow the grass, we add fresh clippings to the pile. Then, when we rake leaves, they too are added to the pile. Did you know that to create a rotten pile of compost- for the "rottening" to take place- there is actually a formula? Yep- you can't just toss on some leaves and scraps and hope for the best- (I have learned).

According to,
Composting is a dynamic process which will occur quickly or slowly, depending on the process used and the skill with which it is executed. A neglected pile of organic waste will inevitably decompose, but slowly. This has been referred to as "passive composting," because little maintenance is performed. Fast or "active" composting can be completed in two to six weeks. This method requires three key activities; 1) "aeration," by turning the compost pile, 2) moisture, and 3) the proper carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio. Attention to these elements will raise the temperature to around 130=-140=, and ensure rapid decomposition.

The proper carbon to nitrogen ratio, by the way, is 30 to 1, meaning, to every 30 parts carbon, one should add 1 part nitrogen (live stuff). Who knew that making something ROT could be so complex? Even dirt takes work!

Kaleb and his Mama sat on our couch as I told them about this post- giving them my ideas and reading to them about composting. "I know about taking stuff to the pile," Kaleb said. Sylva was grinning. "Yeah- we dumped all our stuff on that pile, but it never made any dirt," she said. Then Kaleb, youngest of 3, who was apparently the all-time "hauler-outer" said (in his intentionally country accent), "Yeah, but we sure added to it, though."

So I too just keep adding to mine. I forget about it sometimes. But when I think about it, I start adding to it again.

It's interesting to me the order in which Peter calls us to "add to". He gives a formula of sorts. Beginning with the foundation of faith. Our faith is where it all begins for us. Christ's sacrifice to redeem us is very real and sufficient. But it is not until we have faith that His justification for us occurs, and His sanctification process begins.
To faith, we are to add virtue: moral goodness or moral vigor. So- the first thing we add is a general moral goodness. Seems basic enough.
To that, we are to add knowledge (learning Truth and who God is and who we are to be in Him). So basically, don't settle for just moral goodness.
To that, self control (the practice and application- actually allowing our knowledge of Him and His word to change us- to apply it to our lives- becoming more like Him, evidenced by controlling our own behavior)
Then- perseverance- continue in the faith and learning and self controlling! Pressing on toward the mark,we are moving toward...
Godliness- actually beginning to act like Him- and look like Him- reflecting Him to others.
And to that, we add brotherly kindness (be sweet)- which, when practiced looks like. . .
Love! (be selfless)

I love this stuff!

Now, I encourage you to read back over the first part of the composting process above.
Take a minute. . .


Lord, let me not be passive and my process be slow. Move me toward godliness and love. Let me be diligent as your word says. Let me always be adding to.

And for those who are interested- again from, below is a list of tips. Enjoy your dirt making!
  1. Gather all grass clippings and green yard waste but be sure to mix with the "brown" materials like leaves and shredded paper to add carbon. You will need both, but if you only add grass clippings your pile will compact and start to stink.
  2. Do not compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.
  3. Avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated material.
  4. If you add weeds to your pile make sure your pile is good and hot. It should be steaming hot, not just warm otherwise it may not kill the seeds.
  5. Turn your pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it will speed up the process.
  6. Keep your compost damp but not wet. As you add material to your pile make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. During the summer your pile will dry out and the composting process will slow down.
  7. Got too much material to compost? Make a second or third pile. Stop adding material to a pile that is underway and start a new pile. This will insure you get a chance to use the compost this season.
  8. Add compost to your garden a few weeks before you plant. Let the compost have a chance to work into the soil. Try to mix it in and let it sit before you plant.
  9. Bugs, worms and most bugs are ok. No need to go crazy trying to keep bugs out of your compost.
  10. Since the compost process works best at temperature between 120 and 150 degrees composting in the warmer months is easier to do, if this is your first attempt at composting best to try in the summer.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rotten on the vine

Each year since I've built my front-yard garden, a kidney shaped nook- the only spot in our whole yard (front or back) that gets any sun, I plant a few vegetables in hopes of getting enough for myself- and if all goes well, maybe enough to share with a few friends! (ok- maybe just one or two friends- but I would still love to give them!) This year, the soil it was speckled with Japanese eggplant, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and pole beans. I shopped for specific varieties, soaked seeds til they sprouted; Kaleb even diligently built a charming bamboo trellis for the beans to climb.

It's such an interested process. First is soil preparation. We all know if the soil is bad (rocky, thorny, etc.) nothing will grow. A spiritual lesson in itself. Then there is the planting. I love the planting- requiring such trust and expectation. Then comes the waiting and watching. And how exciting when the first little sprout bursts from the soil- or when a bud appears- promising fruit in the near future! It always amazes me. A seed, plus water, plus dirt, plus sun equals. . . . . . a tomato!

So the early stages of planting and waiting and watching the growth is fun and invigorating- seeing the results of my labor and the miraculous formula (seed+water+dirt+sun) actually working! I am motivated to get on my hands and knees to remove weeds, to water faithfully, and even to research organic ways to get rid of pesky bugs.

Then something happens. It gets hot. I get bored. I don't know what exactly. But just after the fruit (or vegetables) begin growing- after that first "harvest" (which for me was about 19 and 1/2 green beans), I lose steam. When my peppers come out looking like cherry tomatoes and my eggplant stop growing at far less than full size, I become disgruntled.

So here is my confession...

Right now, there are a few beans, several eggplants, and a lot of little tiny rinky-dink red peppers out there hanging on the vine. Sun-scorched and shriveled, most half-grown and faded, vegetables that were never picked. Left there to rot on the vine. I know, Mama, I should be ashamed. I am.

Well, I was disappointed. Between the hot dry days, my lack of fertilizing, and a couple of storms, it just wasn't the best "production". So I neglected to continue cultivating. There were times I could have revived them. There is even a second batch of beans out there right now. But they, like the peppers, are puny, dry and shriveled. Slap my hand, Mammaw. Please, I deserve it. Do I really lose that much gusto between the planting and the harvesting? 

Looking at those vegetables hanging there on the vine, I began to think of the reasons our own fruit- fruits of the Spirit, talents, good works for His glory, are never cultivated, harvested, and shared.

So I'm thinking. . . possible reasons I do not harvest and share my "fruit" (I'll spare you the commentary this time and allow you to draw your own spiritual correlations).

1. It looks so pretty hanging there on the vine- MY vine- for ME to enjoy and look at. It takes a lot of energy to cultivate and grow- "I mean. . . do I really have to pick it? And share it?" I'll just let it stay there and decorate my garden.
2. How do I know it's ready to be picked? I don't trust myself. I don't know that it's even worth picking yet. I'm pretty inexperience at this anyway. What if I pick it and try to give it away and it's not just right yet?
3. What if no one appreciates it or values it as much as I do? I mean, I get pretty excited and can be a little too impressed with myself as I watch it grow. If I share it, I run the risk of it at best not being appreciated and at worst- rejected.
4. Distraction. I'm just too busy- I have other things to do. Things. Things Things. That occupy my mind and time. Sometimes just when it's time for the harvest- to pick and share- I have already moved on to another interest- or another project. (come on Lacy, focus. Finish as strongly as you began).
5. I become lazy. It's not worth the effort anymore. I choose something easier (Kroger) or just do without.
6. If I'm going to share it, I want it to be perfect. If it's not perfect, it's not a good gift.
7. I assume no one will care either way. No one will miss receiving my "fruits".

So these are all the possible reasons I fizzled out- all the reasons we can all lose our focus and vigor in the cultivating and harvesting. I'm sure there are plenty more.

And this is where it gets good. . .
Guess what I just received from a sweet new friend of mine just a few days ago. . .one of the most thoughtful and delightful gifts . . .evidence of her hard work and a true sign of her care and appreciation for me. . .it was a cozy wooden basket heaping full of shiny fresh vegetables! I was so excited! What a blessing. I pictured her planting and watering, picking and packing them. A myriad of colors- green, yellow, red and glossy deep purple. What a wonderful gift!

Ohhh- what had I done with the gifts I had wanted to give? What I had planted, I had not cultivated and what I had watered, I had not harvested.

I arrived at home that day with my basket of juicy ripe vegetables, climbed out of my car and walked right past my little frazzled garden. I walked on in, and much like a child exploring plastic pumpkin candy, I sorted through my goodies. Then, I cleaned, chopped and marinated all of them- squash, zuccini, eggplant, and bell peppers. I tossed them on the grill for a while. . . and boy were they delicious! A reminder. Evidence of cultivation- a reaping of what was sown. A gift given out of love that meant even more to me than what was intended.

Lord, help me produce good fruit. You know what fruit I mean.

And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful. Titus 3:14

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Morning Rain

Lord, I thank you for the rain
Water washing sin and stain
Soothes the bones and eases pain
I drink the morning in

Running clear from sky to ground
Like my heart, the drops they pound
And I hear mercy all around
As weighted branches bend

It gives consent to shed my tears
To cry like thunder at stangling fears
Like rising steam, new strength appears
That smells like hope again

A rain-washed scent the sun breaks through
Warming sky from gray to blue
Mercy making all things new
A fresh new day begins

Isn't it funny how rain somehow gives us permission to be sad? Or to just be where we are. Even moving us to repentance- in essence, a "pouring out" of ourselves.  In a mysterious way, it's like my soul can feel free to join creation in it's grayness as the sky weeps.

And there is no pressure to be particularly happy on a rainy day. The older I get, the more I find enjoyment in such days and having the freedom to "just be". It's rainy days that give us a chance to crawl under the covers and appreciate the coziness of our warm beds, to look out at the rain or storm and then look in at the stillness and feel protected.

Again, the rain leads to thoughts of washing and renewal. And His mercies are new every morning. So a morning rain seems to be double the reminder of His mercies poured out! Making all things new!  
Lamentations 3:22-24

 22It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
 23They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
 24The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"I don't just see the one"

Kaleb's Mama, my mother-in-law, Sweet Sylva Sue (that's what we sometimes call her) absolutely adores her son. And I mean she LOVES him. She prayed for him before he was born that he would be wise beyond his years, and her prayers were truly answered. But no matter how wise- how grown- how mature- he is still her baby. Through 6 and 1/2 years of dating and 6 years of marriage, I can not count the times that we arrived at her house after church on Sunday or after a Friday night ballgame, and she would say "Kaleb, honey, you look tired. You need to get back there and get you some rest." After a while, I started picking at her and saying "I'm tired too!" playing like I wanted her to baby me too. So she did. And we would laugh about it. After that, she began exaggerating her doting over me. But she never stopped it with Kaleb, despite his "eyeing her" (as she says) with those big, brown "I love you, Mama, but I don't need you to tell me when I am tired" eyes.

This past Sunday, we were delighted to get to spend some much needed time with our Sylva (her real name is Sylvia by the way). She joined us for worship at our new church, Hillcrest. We took her to lunch at Lula's on the brick streets, and we headed back to our house for a short visit. As she sat on one end of our reclining couch, her feet propped to match her baby boy at the other end, she got to looking at him. I knew what was coming. Sure enough, "Kaleb, your eyes look tired. You need some rest don't you?" Before he could give her "the look", she added
"Who knows you better than your Mama? Well, maybe Lacy does but. . ." (then she turned to me) "You see, I don't see just the one- the one 28 year old man. I see the 5-year old boy and the 10-year old boy. I see him all the way to now."
Wow- what a neat thought. As she looks at my husband, tall and strong, the man who provides for me and teaches me, she sees him through his ages. She sees her baby, a little boy, a pre-teen. She doesn't just see the one- just the full-grown man. And it made me think of how God must look at us. He doesn't "just see the one" when he looks at us either.

When he looks at me, He sees me before I was born, while he was knitting me together. Then when I was a four-year-old, a purple cow-boy hat wearing ball of energy- that cried and cried those first days of kindergarten, He was there. And when my kindergarten buddy Brock asked me "Where do you go to church?" and I said "I really don't go," and Brock asked, "Then how do you learn about Jesus?" And I wanted Him. I really wanted Him. I knew I wanted to learn about this Jesus. He was there. He watched me swim in the pool, build forts with my neighbors, and when I accepted Him at Bible School in the 5th grade, He was very much there. Stomach aches up all night with Mama, ballgames I won, ballgames I lost, friends that moved away.

Then it hit me. If He looks at me and sees the "little me" all the way up to the me right now- then He also sees the future me- who I will be one day. He knows the roads I have traveled and those I have yet to. How amazing to think of the perspective He has when he gazes on our lives. We are more to Him than who we are in this moment. Though, so often, we are caught up in the present moment, our current circumstances being magnified in our own minds. He, seeing the forest while the tree before us consumes our interest, knows the bigger purpose that circumstantial tree will serve. He is always seeing, always knowing, always viewing us as more than who we are in our "here and now". His omnicience transcends our concept of time and our inability to see outside our immediate surroundings.

He was and is with us, loving us, growing us in His image.

That's 4-year old me on the front left with a broken leg (Easter Egg hunt gone bad). Brock is 3rd from the right on the back row.

Psalm 139
 1 You have searched me, LORD,
   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
   you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.
 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.
 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
   How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
   they would outnumber the grains of sand—
   when I awake, I am still with you.
 19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
   Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
   your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
   and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
   I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Life Is How I Take It

I fall behind
I get ahead
"There is no 'in-between'" I said
Now I'm alive- soon I'll be dead
So time is how I shape it

In little chunks
In long cool drinks
In running hard- in time to think
Lord, slow the time it takes to blink
And help me feel- not fake it

Filling moments to the top
Bursting til they almost pop
With good and bad
With start and stop
This day is what I make it

In taking in
In soaking up
With mysteries you fill my cup
Don't let the rushing interrupt
For life is how I take it

I jotted that on the back of some scratch paper trashed on my floor board on the way to church one Sunday morning. Kaleb was driving. For whatever reason, on that day, I felt a sense of completion and subsequently a hankering for a new project. For a moment- a very brief moment, I felt "ahead" and almost bored. Who knows- maybe I'd cleaned my house the day before, finished some work projects- I have trouble remembering. But, within minutes, riding in our usual Sunday morning thinking silence, ideas and projects began to flood my mind. More things to do. So quickly I could let myself feel "behind" again. It magnified to me the fine line between behind and ahead. And could I be content on that line? Even more, could I fully absorb the moments- behind OR ahead?

Isn't that what it's about, really? Finding God and stopping to see Him and His graces where we are- at whatever pace we are? That morning, I was somewhere in between late and early, behind and ahead, and realizing the fleetingness of this life. A vapor. We are vanishing. So how do we settle in and "weigh down" moments? (to use the terminology of Ann Voskamp, author of the book One Thousand Gifts) We live them in awareness- full awareness of God and His works. 

"With mysteries you fill my cup" is probably the most self-disclosing line, reflecting my daily attempt to receive from God things, events, circumstances I do not understand. To eat and drink of mysteries- to feed on what is given for the day. The children of Israel were given manna to sustain them in the wilderness. Manna- which means "What is it?" Hmmm... in order to live and thrive, they had to partake of  mysteries (what is this?) every day. Voskamp also speaks of this idea- though much more eloquently, and her thoughts and words have hovered and swirled in my mind, slowly making their way to my soul. I want that! I want that contentment to partake of what is given without questioning if it is enough or just wanting something altogether different.

So can we slow down or weigh down moments in this fleeting life? I think we can by taking in the bad with the good and not skimming to the next easy thing. "In taking in, in soaking up"- treasuring moments, translating difficulties into tools for molding. Partaking of the mysteries. Taking what He gives and giving thanks. Life is how we take it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Old Water

I am pretending this isn't the first paragraph ever of my first post ever on my first blog ever- in hopes of not exhausting you or myself by belaboring the obvious "this is why I am writing" prologue. So in attempts to avoid a dramatic exposition of the hearted passion that spurred me to this point and in effort to steer away from a poetically capsuled synopsis, I will just simply begin. Truth is. . .there's not necessarily a hearted passion, and I'm not altogether quite sure yet of the synopsis, and I know my tendencies toward dramatic and poetic expositions are not necessarily interpreted by you (whoever you may be) with the same gusto that I may so vigorously write them. So for everyone's benefit, let's just begin and say that for now, knowing myself and my heart's wanderings and leanings,  my prediction is that this blog will have something to do with growth and experiences. Growth that comes from experiencing God through his people, his creation, and His Word. And my hopes are always always to bring Him glory.  

There it was. The first paragraph. Glad that's done.

I smelled something awful today. I sat on the couch and kept getting pungent, rotten whiffs that confused me. My house was pretty clean I thought. So it was a mystery. Isn't it funny how smells can take you places? I smell  fresh cut grass, and I am back on the softball field playing left center; sweaty leather has a smell too and sweaty girls in the dugout cheering "You get a bat and I get a ball, honey, honey, you get a bat and I get a ball, babe, babe.." (see- all that from fresh cut grass). Then there's Old Spice that sends me straight to "sugar time" after Daddy had shaved his face and was ready for his big ole hug and a kiss on his smooth cheek. Grilled onions and peppers, and I am at the fair watching those gigantic swings swirling overhead or ready to hop on the farris wheel. (Our brains are amazing creations of an Amazing Creator aren't they? What neat tricks they can do!)

Getting on with it, let's just say that this smell to which I am referring today- didn't take me any place good. It was rancid! "What is that?" I kept asking. Just then I glanced at the beautiful spray of gladiolus sitting in our "hole in the wall" (I'll explain later). A tall flock of purple-tipped white blooms happy to make me happy and still very perky after 6 days. Giving no hint that death was trickling in- no hint that within hours, their glory would fade and their stems would bend, their blossoms would wither and their white turn to brown. No hint except. . .the smell. It was hard to believe- but the smell was familiar after I thought about it. People who spend time with people nearing the end of their lives say that death has a smell. Dead flowers have a smell too- but I found it odd because most often, I notice the flowers dying, hope for the best (maybe they'll make it another day or 2?) then, after they are long past their prime and the water is murky- due to either my negligent laziness or just holding out hope, that brownish green water starts to stink- and I mean stink! But today, the water was clear.

The water was still clear, the glads were still glad, so why the smell? Truth is, the water was old- it needed "changing". So do I.

Coming from a line of green thumbs, I knew I'd heard before that cut flowers live longer and stay healthier if you change out the water frequently. But- it's so easy to forget when they look perfectly content. So easy to forget when- on the outside, all seems well. To the common onlooker of my life who doesn't come close enough or stay long enough, all seems well enough. They can't smell it. How I am thankful for those close enough to smell it and brave enough to change it. To help change me.
If those flowers had been in the ground, they would have needed water to grow. Now they needed water to stay alive and healthy. Water grows things and cleanses things.
I first became interested in the concept of "watering through the word" when my husband, Kaleb, and I were only dating (somewhere in those 6 and 1/2 years). Conversations of how marriage should look and the role of a husband led to further study into the idea of watering.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."  Ephesians 5:25-27
It seemed at first an unusual way to phrase it. An interesting use of words. Water through the word. THE Word. God's Word. So near the end of a 6 and 1/2 year courtship, way back in the woods, I found a diamond ring tied to the end of a fishing line floating in a clear stream of water. Well, I didn't just find it. He led me to it and had placed it there with purpose. Washing with water through the word. . .the husband's role. Soon to be MY husband's role. After a brief distraction and laughter over an unplanned spreading of our campfire and many tears that could have put it out if needed, he quoted those familiar lines to me from Ephesians. It began as late hours that turned into early morning hours over phone lines that were as dependable as the man on the other end. Heart to hearts, heart exploring heart, hearts exploring together the Heart of God and His plan for a man and a wife. We had been learning and seeking. Now we would be starting.

Since the ring in the water and the water through the word proposal, up through the two of us saying "I do" in the middle of a hurricane- a literal downpour, the watering has never stopped. And as much as I sometimes dislike it, how glad I am that he can smell the water getting old sometimes even before I can. The watering comes through his words. They cleanse and purify me, holding me to higher standards, teaching me truth that reminds me of who I am- who God's says I am.

And even before a husband, Christ was watering me, as He does us all. He wants to present us as radiant church! His bride! Purified without stain or blemish- washed through His Word. So I thank God for watering me. And I thank Kaleb for letting God water me through him.

After I replaced their water, those flowers lived to see another day and to please me. As I am cleansed, purified, washed by the water through the word, how I pray I am pleasing to my Father.
The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11
So that is where my first blog begins... somewhere near the beginning. You saw the beginning of my days as a Deese- under a new name. Thus- DeeseDays. I hope we enjoy Him many more days together.  

  1. Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
    I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
    Break down every idol, cast out every foe—
    Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    • Refrain:
      Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
      Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  2. Lord Jesus, let nothing unholy remain,
    Apply Thine own blood and extract every stain;
    To get this blest cleansing, I all things forego—
    Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  3. Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies, 
    And help me to make a complete sacrifice;
    I give up myself, and whatever I know—
    Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  4. Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat,
    I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet,
    By faith for my cleansing, I see thy blood flow—
    Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.