Welcome Back

Profuse apologies.

I’ve been absent.

A beautiful unknown is coming into view.

And handling the shadows that want to tag along has been tough.

But silhouettes always melt away in the Light

Welcoming this next level

Where trust and faith work best unboxed

Without perimeters

Without limits

Without borders

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.

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

 

Age

My coworker Marcus took a bite of his tuna sandwich and chewed thoughtfully.

I tapped my spoon against my bowl, waiting impatiently for his answer.

“No,” he finally said. “She’s too old.”

My mouth dropped slightly in disbelief.

“Halle Berry, in all of her gorgeous glory, wouldn’t do it for you because she’s too old? You’re 41, though.”

“I know. But I want to have kids. So I’m looking for a woman who’s younger.”

My eyebrows arched involuntarily. “Only younger?”

He nodded with steadfast assurance. “Only younger.”

I stay in my own peer group.

I never choose strictly from the naïve hearts of tender youngsters or from the weathered ones of secure veterans.

But interestingly, I’ve gotten offers from both ends.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Leon was getting on my last nerve.

My absolute last 9-year-old nerve.

My friend Samantha and I were playing with her toy kitchen when her little brother interrupted us.

For the 15th time.

He’d steal the plastic burgers from my hands.

He’d sing at the top of his lungs whenever I’d try to speak.

When I’d walk over to the tiny sink to “wash” the dishes, he’d pull my braids and run away.

Samantha would threaten bloody murder as big sisters do.

But seconds later, he’d return.

Always with me as the target of his activity.

One day, I complained to my mother about it.

And she responded with a horrifying thought:

“I think he likes you.”

What?! No, he’s too young. He’s in the second grade, for goodness sake. It can’t be.

But it was.

And as time went on, it always seemed to happen that way.

Maybe it was my small stature or quiet spirit. But whenever a friend had a younger brother, he would inexplicably develop a crush on me.

Now, as an adult, I’m garnering attention from the opposite end.

One day, I was walking leisurely when I felt a pair of eyes on me.

I stopped and looked to my right. There was a man with a beard the color of smoke and a leathery worn face.

He eyed me for a second and then began walking toward me.

I stuffed my headphones into my ears and quickly turned on something, ANYTHING, to muffle what was sure to be a pseudo complimentary yet unsuccessful greeting.

I recounted this to Marcus, who, responded in the expected way.

“You are attractive. Well, why wouldn’t he try to talk to you?”

“But he’s definitely older than my father. That’s a nearly 30 year age difference.”

“So? He could be your sugar daddy.”

I shook my head vigorously. There’s not enough sugar in the world.

Lesson: Age ain’t nothing but a number, depending on who’s doing the counting.

Love You

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

I came across this quote some days ago. It’s rather old, first written more than a hundred years ago.

But it was the first time I’d ever heard it. 

Such an elegant way to describe such a necessary act. 

Can’t say that my romance has been lifelong.

But I can say that I am currently head over heels. 

Officially loving me. 

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. 

Tightropes and Sidewalks

Every so often, God refreshes my memory about the tightrope.

I walk a tightrope every day.

I know I’m not the only one because I see people behind and in front of me.

The wire gets tauter when we choose to thank God for anything.

It gets straighter when we say that Jesus is the Living God.

It gets super thin when we believe the Bible and its Words over anything else.

Day by day, we point our toes and try to place our feet on the wire.

Faith steadies us and we’re able to stand firm against the winds of the world

But knees buckle when we glance at those prancing on the wide and easy sidewalk.

I think that’s where Shannon was: smack dab in the middle of a buckle.

“I think I’m getting caught up,” she said sheepishly.

For the past month or so, Shannon had been pursuing a “friendship” with Jerome, a cab driver whose comedic style had captivated her.

Jerome was funny, gallant, and attractive.

Just one thing:

He had a live-in girlfriend.

He told Shannon that the relationship was dead and gone.

Yet, he still continued to live with her and made it clear to Shannon that he wanted more than just amicable days.

She sighed. Her eyes grew glassy and she dabbed at them with a balled up tissue.

My throat felt like it was cracking as I realized that she was contemplating something ill.

“I am so weary of doing good only to get nothing.

What is it all for?”

Tiffany’s knees were also trembling.

A couple of weeks ago, she vehemently proclaimed that women are ending up old and single because of the “God factor.” She herself had begun dating someone and subsequently deleted “relationship with God” from her suitor must-have list.

 “This is why women are bitter at 40. They want to have these men who have relationships with God but don’t give a fighting chance to these good men who don’t.”

Tiffany spat out her arguments like flat soda, always circling back to one thing:  Settle for deleting God from your requirements or suffer the consequences.

 The sidewalk is very attractive.

It can promise relationships.

Guarantee true love.

Assure you of success and triumph.

Surround you with a permanent slot in the ‘in crowd.’

Pledge to keep you rich with whatever you’re longing for.

It makes all these succulent claims. But never delivers. Never.

We don’t walk the tightrope to get a man or a woman. We don’t steady ourselves on a cord to be wealthy. We don’t grip our feet on a wire to be blessed with a house/car/clothes/job/friends/etc.

We do it because we love and want to please God.

That’s what it’s all for. 

Checking Scales

It was pretty.

Sitting daintily upon Lucille’s neck was a gleaming gold necklace. The chain caressed her clavicle as it dipped down her neck, holding a small diamond studded ball.

“Travis gave it to me for my birthday,” she said proudly.

I smiled until I heard her next statement:

“According to the Coach website, it’s worth about $80.”

Lucille appraises every gift her boyfriend gives her.

Every. Single. One.

From the Build-A-Bear teddy to the Bath & Body Works scent set to the tawny snakeskin sandals, every material donation to her personal repertoire is…

Assessed

Marked

Measured

And labeled for its monetary worth.

“I want to be sure we are giving equally,” she explained casually. “That way, I’m not giving more than he’s giving and vice versa.”

I shook my head in disbelief.

“There will have to come a day where all this appraising stops.”

Lucille just looked at me and I could see that that day was a long way off.

How can a relationship survive when you’re perpetually checking the scales?

Explosions

It’s funny how God will expound on something you believed was only a passing thought.

I fell asleep thinking about love last night.

This morning, I read a passage that made me contemplate it even more:

“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else.

‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise.

It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run;

being in love was the explosion that started it.”

-CS Lewis

Explosions are great. Like fireworks, they sparkle. They provide excitement, entertainment, and thrill.

But they are only seconds long.

Soon the flames die down.

The smoke evaporates.

The glitter and glow of colored light melts into the night sky.

And it’s done.

It’s the sound barrier shattering eros love that should continue and transform into still smooth agape love.

Unconditional love.

No limit love.

Real.  Love.

A friend of mine told me that she loves her husband more now than she did the day they married. I see what she means.

Praying that whenever I explode, it smolders into something that can make an engine run.