Monday, August 22, 2016

No Pictures, Please

     Today, we had an adventure. Not the I-just-single-handedly-stopped-a-gun-point-bank-robbery kind, but the let's-get-out-and-enjoy-our-corner-of-the-world kind. It was lovely, exciting, refreshing, delightful.

     But I was unable to take a single picture! I couldn't post anything on Instagram: #eventhougheveryoneelsedid. There were no stop-by-stop updates for me to put on Facebook: that-moment-when-you-wonder-if-social-media-knows-how-awesome-your-life-is. I wasn't the one sending pictures back to mum and dad at home.

     I'm currently phone-less which means picture-less, but you know what? That's ok. Better, even. Because it means my Sunday afternoon was spent driving and talking and swimming in the river - not checking facts on my phone or trying to snap pictures. It means the day was closed with a fast-paced, steep hike to watch the sun set over rolling hills of evergreen trees, their reflections quivering in the winding river and its tributaries, the very glory of God seeming to burst forth in purple, red, and glowing gold - and all I could do was sit and wonder at its brilliance. Singing praises with my brothers and sisters, grasping to put words to the feeling of worship that throbbed my heart so vehemently I felt I may explode before I could voice it - this was all I could do. And it taught me.

 phones can't capture memories 

     Yet I know, ridiculously, if I had a phone, I would try. I would pull it out, and attempt to portray in pixels the breathtaking event of a Master Painter brushing the sky with broad, colorful strokes. I would set it up, adjust the angle, and try to save in a small electronic device the marvelous event of a massive heavenly body slipping beyond the edge of my mortal sight. I would try, and fail, and try again. I would become distracted, seeking that perfect shot. I would decide to put myself in the picture - probably with a friend - and would push a button over and over again to make sure we saved the most flattering pic possible. The sun would slip below the tree line, the colors would fade, the wind would die down, and I would have missed my chance.

Missed my chance to sing.

To worship.

To glory.

Missed my chance to marvel.

To be in awe.

To lift my hands high, stretching them toward heaven and the One who dwells therein.

     I love taking pictures because, as incomparable as they are to actual events, they have the ability to time-capsule moments. To help you recall, to go back, to say, "Oh! remember singing hymns together as the sun set on Angel's Rest? Remember that fellow-hiker who sat a bit away from us on the outcropping and clapped along, asking us to keep singing? Remember what it felt like just as that last sliver of burning rose-gold dissipated on the horizon?"

I want to remember

     But today I was reminded: it's saving the moments, and praising our King for them, that are the principle things. If pictures help - lovely. Take a couple. But if you're lucky enough to lose your phone and have no camera, drink it in. Cling to that colorful swirl of brilliance in the sky, hold tight to the shivering moments as the wind tries to blow you off the cliffs and the sun is no longer there to warm you, treasure the hours spent in praise and conversation with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

For me, God had to say loud and clear, "No pictures, please."

And it was glorious.

Friday, July 8, 2016

five minute friday: build

When I was young I used to build
Great castles in the sky.
And no expense did I e'er spare - 
In pleasing my mind's eye.

When I grew some I tried to build
A lauded life for me.
But the foundation that I poured
I found vain and empty.

And now I've grown a little more
And start to understand
That building blocks of clouds and praise
Evade my feeble hand.

Instead I find life's building blocks
From humbler origins come -
They're hewn from giving up my life
And kept in place by love.

five minute friday: Writing for five minutes on a theme. Skip the edits. Skip the considerations. Just write. And post.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

five minute friday: Pass

I remember the encounter well.

A friend and I were on the verge of missing the opening notes of a concert. As new drivers, we had survived the stress of Portland evening traffic, one-way-roads, and whereintheworldistheparkinggarage moments with surprisingly minimal befrazzlement. Dashing up the streets to the concert hall, however, we were suddenly accosted by a group of girls, nearly the same ages as ourselves, with baskets and signs in support of a cause our minds hardly registered.

"Can we talk to you for a moment?" they asked.

We barely gave a coherent answer; our eyes were shining for an evening of piano music, our feet sped us onward to the tempo of anticipated tunes.

"Well, here, take these - for your protection," they insisted, shoving miscellaneous somethings into our hands as we hurried past.

It wasn't until we were seated in the concert hall - having deposited our "gifts" in a trash bin without so much as a glance - that my friend turned to me and asked, "Were those girls representing Planned Parenthood?"

And I knew they had been. I had felt a flicker of conscience as we'd ignored them, a begging of my spirit to stop and talk with them. And I had hurried past.

There the details of our evening fade. I can't recollect who played, or which pieces we heard. I don't know if my friend and I stopped for coffee on the way back, or drove straight home to meet a curfew.

But I do remember how I felt once I was home, sitting in the quiet dark of my room.

I felt ashamed.

Ashamed to have rushed by, missing the opportunity to speak with those girls on the street corner. To learn why they were representing Planned Parenthood. To hear their stories. To show them love. To tell them of my Savior.

I felt ashamed for treating an evening of personal enjoyment as more important than the spiritual state of girls who actually tried to talk to me. For valuing the sparkle of an "evening out" above the terribly too-real lives of dozens of little ones.

Jesus once told a parable of a poor man, Lazarus, who sat outside a rich man's dwelling, hoping, begging, for food from his table. Daily, the rich man walked past, without so much as an inkling of sympathy for the sore-ridden, needy one at his feet. His life, his priorities, his comforts - these were of far greater concern to a man of the world than the life flickering on his doorstep.

In America today - indeed, throughout the whole world - we too have have lives to save on our doorsteps: the lives of the unborn, the future of women and girls facing unplanned pregnancies. Daily, lives flicker between being taken or saved, crushed or nurtured, thrown away or valued. Do you hurry past? Do you bemoan the deeds in word without a pause to help? Do you have a hurried, hardly-coherent answer for girls on the street corner?

I have written before on why I am pro-life, and others have written far more eloquently than I - but what I want to ask today is, What are you doing about it? There are countless options: volunteer at a pregnancy clinic, support your local CPC, or even simply take the time to reach out and talk to the women "on your doorstep". Don't hurry past the mission field with which God has surrounded you. These lives may not be dying on our front porches, but they are suffering in secret, just down the street.


I've recently signed up (rather last-minute) to run in a fundraiser race for a local Crisis Pregnancy Center. I'd love it if you felt led to support me! The link is here.
However, even if you are unable to financially support Pathways, please cover them - and all other centers devoted to showing Christ's love to women and mothers in need - in your prayers. 

Confession: it took me a bit longer than 5 minutes to write this, in between teaching today. Still, it was written, minimally edited, and posted all in the same day - which is an accomplishment for me!

Photo Credit:
szdl. Passing. 10 Oct. 2013. Flickr Creative Commons

Saturday, April 23, 2016

I Wish I May

Sometimes you wish for something. Wish until you can hardly hold it in. Until it's all you can think about. Until the day comes when you realize: God's either going to grant your wish, or take it away.

And He asks you to let it go.

To give up the sparkle of each thought you've had about it. To give up the moments when you've grinned for "no reason" because the very wish made you skip. To give up the anticipation; the expectant, bubbly feeling - like a kid in a candy shop - that is part and parcel with waiting on a wish.

And so you do. You let it go.

It takes time. But finally, your thoughts don't live there anymore. You don't feel the desire to talk about it anymore. When you hear of someone else's wish, your heart doesn't race with excitement anymore. 

Because you've let it go.

Then something happens. Maybe it's a picture from the time you were wishing hardest. Maybe it's the book that first whispered to you of the dream. Maybe you watch someone else live your wish. Dream your dream. 

And God lets her. 

Blesses her.

Suddenly, you're in pieces again. Not the shattered, dramatic, sobbing-on-the-floor kind of pieces, but the subtle kind. The kind that makes you wonder if that dull ache is just a destined part of your life now. The kind that's not even sure you want the wish anymore, but can't figure out why it's suddenly so hard.

You hadn't realized how tightly you'd woven your wish into thoughts most special to you. Hadn't realized how very long it takes to extract all the traces from deep inside. Hadn't realized that letting go never happens just once.

"But this is what God asks of me! I can do nothing if not trust Him. If I doubt Him now, what purpose is there in anything?"

So, shakily, you reach your hands toward Him. This is harder than hanging onto hope: to let it die. Again.

Again, you struggle against the memory.
Again, you yearn to understand.
Again, you beg, "Not my will, but Yours!"
Again, you cannot stop the whisper, "but if only this wish could be..."
Again, you wait upon Him.

Hands outstretched.
Ears straining.
Eyes searching.
Heart clinging.

You wait.

And then, one day, you realize - 
"To receive from Him
To hear His voice
To see His glory
To know His love -
This is my wish."

And, gradually, once again, your heart begins to beat to a wish that will forever come true.

"One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple." - Psalm 27
jessicahtam. Wish. 22 Nov. 2009. Flickr Creative Commons. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

five minute friday (on a Monday): Surprise

It was a surprise. A shock. Unheard of, unconsidered.

The Creator would wrap Himself in the created?

The boundless God would be confined to an infant's body?

The One Who Owns the Worlds would not even have a cradle in which to be laid?

The greatest Wisdom would be called demon-possession?

The King of kings would answer to a governor?

The Only Righteous would be punished for sin?

The Slain would rise again?

It was more than a surprise. It was unfathomable.

And yet, it was Truth.

five minute friday: Writing for five minutes on a theme. Skip the edits. Skip the considerations. Just write. And post.