Tis The Season

I’ve been away for a while.

Adapting, 

Folding my life into neater sections.

Amending, 

Transforming block lettered hope into calligraphic reality.

Adjusting, 

Retiring from the snug warmth of what was

To reside in the tingly shiver of what may be…

…and what will be…

…and what is.

The final quarter of 2014 was a dramatic experience. 

A reminder of a few things.

Of God’s love.

His provision.

Most especially, His faithfulness. 

A season is changing.

Preparing for 2015. 


“Look, the winter is past,
    and the rains are over and gone.
The flowers are springing up,
    the season of singing birds has come,
    and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.
The fig trees are forming young fruit,
    and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming.”

-Song of Solomon 2:11-13

Playtime

Sarah’s chubby fingers gripped the crooks of her folded arms.

Her usually cherubic face contorted into a grimace.

Her eyes became chocolate tongues of fire as she watched me collect the remaining cards.

In a crystalline 4-year-old aria, she sang,

“I don’t want to play any more.”

Now, the game was her idea.

She had bounced with excitement as I set up the board, arranged the cards, and gave her a game piece.

But Sarah stomped her Stride Rite sneakered feet in displeasure when she began to lose some of her gold tokens.

Something shifted when she realized that losing was a possibility.

I don’t want to play any more.

We can feel the same way at times in life.

We are granted moments that make us float with thrill and encounters that simmer into syrupy joy.

It is when these occasions threaten to persist

When they hint at continuance

That give us pause.

Because we know that floating too high can make you fall

And simmering can ease into a slow burn

And injury to our person

Our heart

Is imaginable.

The risk gets real.

And we don’t want to play any more.

But stopping the game means cutting a journey short.

Ending the happy

And closing the door to a win.

Yeah, painful defeat is conceivable.

So is exhilarating triumph.

Let’s see what’s next.

Stay in the game.  

And keep playing.

Click

It’s usually heard when something fits with another.

A short sharp chirp.

Like the grooved segment of a jigsaw part finding its compatible segment.

Or ragged zipper teeth sliding into their spaces in line.

Or the etched bars in a metal key that scrape the ridges inside of a lock.

The click.

Two pieces.

That can exist alone.

But united become a haven.

An instrument.

A masterpiece.

Designed to be better together than apart.

Crestfallen when it is elusive but elated when it is certain,

in relationships, we search for a click.

The click.

But it cannot be manufactured or manipulated.

A click, the click happens when it is meant to

Naturally.

Creak

Weak things creak.

Things like aging cedar stairs

Rusted metal barstools

Flimsy Styrofoam plates.

Certain relationships

They cry out under weight it can’t carry.

They wail from pressure it wasn’t designed to handle.

They whimper because decay has obliterated its strength

Weak things creak.

It’s the first clue of damage.

A sign that something needs inspection.

Weak things creak.

Things like aging cedar stairs

Rusted metal barstools

Flimsy Styrofoam plates.

Certain relationships.

Failure to examine such things can cause collapse.

And the frail notes of strain can become the beginning of an end.

Fizzle

Poor Wile E. Coyote.

It’s been 50 years since he’s been trying to catch the Roadrunner.

His ingenuity and tenacity notwithstanding, none of his tactics have been successful. 

Especially his rocket launchers.

After assembling a formidable amount of dynamite sticks, he’d mount the T.N.T. bundle, ready himself for launch, and light the wick.

The flame would hungrily eat the strand, making its way up to the dynamite for its triumphant eruption.

But every time it got close to detonating, the flame fizzled.

He never went anywhere.

A promising start died right where it began.

I’ve had a couple of those fizzles. 

False starts.

Like the light tickling of champagne, the potential is effervescent.

The possibility dances in the air. 

It brushes against your cheekbone and pops before your eyes. 

It’s there.

And then it goes flat.

But too much air…

Not enough space…

Something invisible.

Visible.

Spoken.

Unspoken.

Something.

Something melts the explosive start into a fizzle before it even takes off. 

And perhaps that’s for the best.

Something that can end so easily wasn’t built to last anyway.

 

Onomatopoeia

Bang.

Boom.

Pop.

It’s cool how we’ve created words to describe certain sounds.

The vibrato that defines a cat’s purr.

The hyper motion in a splash of water.

And the thin sharp taps of rapid raindrops

We can use such terms to describe relationships.

Maybe it’s because the dynamics,

the emotion,

the atmosphere,

the experience cannot be completely understood by anyone else except those in it.

The short crispness of a sound can sum up a connection neatly with little to no explanation needed.

 

Bitter Batter

“He is no good.”

Freida’s brown eyes narrowed as she folded her arms and leaned back against the couch cushion.

I had said only a few words before she rapidly declared her judgment.

I tried to begin again but was cut off.

“But—“

“He is no good. What do you expect?”

Her voluminous conclusions drowned out my further facts and details.

“He’s trifling.”

“That’s what they all do.”

“He’s needs to be ashamed of himself.”

“I’m so sick of all of them.”

Eventually, I settled into silence as she preached the tainted sermon to her own choir.

As she spoke, I could almost see the words as they exited her mouth.

Each letter blackened with toxins and spiked with pain.

So heavy with hurt that entire sentences crashed into me.

Causing me to inch away from them…and from her.

I think Freida makes her batter each morning.

Her bitter batter.

Furiously stirs it in a large ceramic bowl.

The thick ooze poured into 3×4 muffin tins.

Baked at 500 degrees.

Each morsel slowly eaten until the tongue absorbs the flavor.

The bowl and spoon are licked and washed clean.

Until the next day.

When a fresh batch is made.

The ingredients came into Freida’s life 7 years ago.

She’d been dealt a heavy blow: Her 17-year marriage was ending.

Her ex-husband inarguably was the cause of the demise and had soon remarried.

Which made Freida’s recovery that much tougher.

And though it appeared from all outside appearances that she was rebounding quite nicely, any conversation with her proved that assumption wrong.

This daily dining on bitterness has become dangerous for Freida.

Its aroma repels those around her.

Its flavor colors everything she says and thinks.

And her emotions are gaining weight.

Added pounds that sadly will only make her sink.

We all have or will encounter situations that damage our spirit and make us look at life scornfully.

And left to ourselves, it is an easy opening for satan to convince us to stir the batter.

Bitterness will never let us heal.

But forgiveness does.

It is always difficult to forgive the source of our pain.

And sometimes it’s even harder to forgive ourselves for getting entwined in the first place.

But by praying for that person and asking Jesus to help us to release the grudge, the flow of bitterness will begin to slow and eventually cease.

Jesus, the Ultimate and Constant Forgiver, can completely heal the broken heart.

And only He can make the broken heart forgive.

Praying for Freida and for all who have bitter batter in a bowl.

____________________

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Colossians 3:13

 

Amnesia

Hailey’s laugh sounded like ice cubes rattling in a glass.

During a recent phone conversation, I expressed a concern about a heart matter to which she responded with a dismissive chuckle.

 “You’ll be all right,” she said flippantly. “It’s nothing.”

Over the past few years, Hailey and I shared countless conversations about dating, love, and solid relationships.

I encouraged her as she lamented, soothed her as she mourned, and laughed with giddiness as she celebrated.

But recently, she fell in love and gotten married.

And had taken a shot of amnesia.

Amnesia is a heady drink.

Part pride, part apathy.

A frothy spirit served in oversized martini glasses.

Brown sugar pebbles surround the rim while a maraschino cherry bobs back and forth on a wooden toothpick.

The sweet flavor delights the senses while its heavy composition is ingested.

And then memory… becomes a memory.

I think we begin to sip on amnesia after we’ve accomplished a goal.

Passed a test.

Been released.

Jumped a broom.

Gotten a raise.

Our history before that point suddenly becomes alien.

We become estranged from those who are not yet where we are.

We forget how complication feels.

We don’t remember what insomnia is.

The former struggle, tears, pain, and trouble are no longer things we can or want to relate to.

Instead, we lift a glass of amnesia in the air as a toast to the present tense.

I shrugged off the slight, knowing that the hurt was unintentional.

But it hurt all the same.

It is very easy to soak in present pleasure, current peace, and existing joy.

But remembering the battles from yesterday, the sores from last week, and the sadness from 2 years ago keep us grounded,

keep us connected,

And keep us grateful.

Praying that my memory has staying power. 

BFF (Part 5)

Helium.

This must be what helium balloons feel like.

Swollen and high.

I was so high that I couldn’t lift my head without tumbling.

I was so swollen that my words couldn’t fit out of my mouth.

Yet with both of those severe handicaps, I was shocked when the nurse said,

“No, sweetie, you can’t take care of yourself today.”

I began to protest when Alison stopped me with one word.

“Nope.”

She placed a calming hand on my shoulder and said,

“Don’t worry.  I’m going to take care of you.”

And that she did.

Alison was my chauffeur who drove me to her home.

My doctor who picked up my prescribed medicine.

My personal shopper who dropped by the grocer for food.

My waitress/nurse who brought meals and doses bedside.

My bodyguard who shielded me from overzealous puppies.

My publicist who fielded all inquiring phone calls.

My maid who didn’t flinch at throwing out saliva and blood soaked cloth.

My commentator who kept me informed during reality T.V. viewing sessions.

My nightguard who made sure I fell asleep.

My friend.

My best friend.

I’m admittedly unused to being cared for.

I like and am usually on the other side of that gate.

But Alison reminded me that friendship is reciprocal.

With care and concern flowing in both directions.

Pulling A Hagar

Josephine is staring down her 50th year of life and has never had a circle of gold wrapped around her left ring finger.

That fact bothers and saddens her.

As I tried to share words of encouragement, rancor crackled in her voice as she nearly cut me off.

“I’ve heard all that before,” she said. She quickly wiped away a tear before it could spill down her face.

“It used to help me. But I’m tired of waiting.”

Whenever I think of Christian women who are single, the train of thought always leads to biblical women who were childless.

Their stories of longing are abundant throughout the Bible and are rich with emotion.

And while the object of yearning is not the same, the intensity is.

Bitter envy, furious frustration, teary grief, and pure passion are seen in both wishes.

And the elongated duration of either condition, singleness or childlessness, can lead to pulling a Hagar.

Sarai, like Josephine, was tired of waiting.

The couple was well into their golden years; her husband, Abram, in his nineties and Sarai in her eighties.

God knew their desire and had promised Abram a son. But ten years had passed since then without the slightest hint of morning sickness.

So Sarai, anxious, impatient, and convinced of God’s forgetfulness, decided to fulfill the desire herself:

“Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” (Genesis 16:1-2)

But Sarai didn’t get the family she wanted.

She got drama instead.

“When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress. Sarai told Abram, “It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.” “You decide,” said Abram. “Your maid is your business.” Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away.” (Genesis 16:4-6)

Heavy yearning can blind eyes and invite trouble instead of turning it away.

I imagine that Sarai’s faith and hope had dwindled down to such a wisp that being a stepmother of sorts was better than being a mother of none.

But that arrangement was not arranged by God.

Sarai and Abram’s promised son eventually did arrive just the way God intended.

But the effects of Sarai’s tactic were still felt years later.

In the midnight moments, when the last drop of faith has evaporated, it’s tempting to pull a Hagar.

But it’s even wiser to wait for God.