life

Ancient of Days

When news of the attack on our embassy in Benghazi was unfolding and a video was being falsely accused, my thoughts went straight to Uriah the Hittite.

You’re probably familiar with what happened to Uriah – murdered in a cover-up – but if you’re not you can read about him here.

The bizarre blaming of a video before any facts were gathered; the blatant lying right into the grieving faces of the victims’ families; the callous, self-protecting “What difference, at this point, does it make?” smacked more and more and more of a desperate cover-up.

With every mention of Benghazi came thoughts of Uriah.

I thought of Abel, too, whose blood cried out from the ground.

And I hoped Ambassador Stevens’ blood and the blood of Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods was crying out from the ground, too.

David suffered consequences for killing Uriah:
The sword would never depart from his house.
He would be publicly humiliated.
The son born of the rape he was trying to hide would die.

Plus he was disqualified from rebuilding the temple because of all the violence to which he had been a party.

I’m not saying anyone killed Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods the way David killed Uriah, I’m just saying that if she did, she ought to be disqualified, too. I’m just asking God to avenge the blood of those four innocent men.

“As I looked,
thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.”  Daniel 7:9-10

#ancientofdays

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life

Leprosy & a Vibrant Discussion

I felt a bit like a leper yesterday. For a minute or two.

I received a text from the BSF Children’s Supervisor asking me about the shingles… how I feel, am I still contagious?

I am teaching third and fourth graders on Monday nights this year. Would I be out another week?

According to the discharge sheet I was given at Urgent Care, shingles is only contagious when the rash is present. The virus is spread via contact with the oozing blisters.

My rash is almost completely faded and it never did develop blisters. So my guess is that I am NOT contagious.  But, in an abundance of caution – to avoid the slightest chance of an epidemic of Chicken Pox running through the school program – it was decided that I should stay home until I get the all-clear from my doc on Tuesday.

“We’ll welcome you back October 8,” were the specific words that made me feel leprous.

The upside of being deemed “unclean” is that I got to sleep in this morning.

While my co-leaders were gathering at 6:30 am to prepare for Monday night, I was still snoozing. I awoke at 7:30 to the sound of the garage door opening. And I smiled.

I smiled big. The hub is truly a great man.

Late last night I reminded the hub that tomorrow was October 1st and October is Donut Month.

“I think we should have donuts in the morning. I think you should go to Avon first thing and bring some home.”

Avon is a bit of a drive so I figured his words of affirmation were insincere.

But then I heard the garage door open, smiled, stretched and slid out of bed.

I smelled coffee as I descended the stairs.

There in the dimmed lights of the kitchen I spotted the box.

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Looks like the hub already took one.

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While the clean among us were gathered for leaders’ meeting, I was curled up on the sofa sipping good, hot coffee, eating half of this donut and then half of that, watching the Premier League.

The downside of being deemed unclean is that I missed the vibrant discussion in the leaders’ circle.

But it’s okay. The Holy Spirit and I had a vibrant discussion of our own as I worked on my lesson yesterday.

I was reading the part in John 2 where Jesus cleared the temple of commerce, of money-changers, of disrespect.

“Who gave you the authority?,” the people asked.

The study questions suggested I look at Hebrews 8-10.

Our vibrant discussion began in Hebrews 10:

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He [quoted Psalm 40:6-8]:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First He said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. [italics added by me]

The Spirit pointed out that they were offered in accordance with the lower-case-l law.

The Spirit is brilliant.

I named some of the things we, the church, offer in accordance with the lower-case-l law that God does not desire, with which He is not pleased.

Things like forbidding women to teach men.

Really silly things like requiring a man to be onstage when a woman leads worship…

Things that Jesus never said or required, neither did the capital L Law nor the Prophets.

I doubt anyone at leaders’ meeting this morning had an insight as brilliant as the Spirit’s.

I started to think about the ever-present fellowship of the Spirit. With Her (I’m not trying to get all feminist here but since mankind is made in God’s image and since 50% of mankind is female, I’m guessing at least 1/3 of God is female. Plus, ever notice that Jesus never assigned a gender to the Holy Spirit – never used a pronoun; ever notice that the female pronoun is used for Wisdom in Proverbs?) anyway, with Her a believer is never alone. She walks right in, ignoring the quarantine.

And that reminded me of the movie Ben Hur. Remember when Judah Ben Hur’s mother and sister were in the leper camp? Such a lonely, desolate place.

The kind of place Jesus went then.

The kind of place the Holy Spirit goes now.

I wish the movie had shown Jesus in those caves having vibrant discussions with those lepers.

‘Cuz you know He did.

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Found these organic beauties at the Farmers Market today.  Had to do something to walk off the donuts.

full of grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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faith, life

Tithing

This was a day’s worth of raspberries last summer – and every summer, for that matter, since I planted two raspberry bushes ten years ago.

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Every day, for weeks, I would pick a whole bowl of berries, wash them and make them into something delicious.

For three or four weeks in July and then a second yield in the Fall.

This is how many raspberries I picked today:

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And one lone strawberry, not quite ripe, but if I waited ’til then it would be gone.

In July I ate not a single berry from my garden. Not a single one. They grew and ripened, but not for me.

My grandma went to war with some birds over her raspberries one summer. Then she ripped the bushes out.

“If I can’t have them, then neither can they,” she reportedly said.

I’m not like that.

I’ll share.

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I’ve been blessed with an abundance of berries every summer and fall for 10 years.

This year, apparently, was for the birds.

Perhaps God rotates the flocks. Lets them feast in my garden this year, then sends them to your garden next year.

Perhaps that’s what’s meant by tithing our first fruits.

I don’t mind that.

I don’t mind feeding the birds and the squirrels and the chippies once every ten years.

So long as their movable feast moves on…

#fragileharvest

 

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Food, Jesus, Michigan

Sparkle and Roar & a February Fix

Sundresses, cotton skirts, khakis, good jeans and tidy shorts were streaming toward the Tabernacle. Our casual beach clothes were swimming against the current, heading for the beach.

“I’m starting to feel kinda’ like a heathen,” I whispered.

“I’m not,” she replied with confidence.

“It’s not so much that I feel like a heathen,” I corrected, “it’s more that I kinda’ feel like they might think I’m a heathen.”

“And I feel like I’m dissing my people by walking right past them.”

“Why?,” she asked. “You don’t care about ‘dissing your people’ any other Sunday.”

True, I thought, funny how I consider fellow Christians “my people” when I don’t know them, when I’m out of town.  They look so much shinier and friendlier as strangers. I think I just like the Christians I don’t know better than I like the Christians I do know.

“Maybe it’s not the people, maybe it’s the music, the call to worship. We’re walking right past the call to worship.”

“God is calling me to the beach,” she said with certainty as she steered me toward the path that leads to the lake.

In order to get on the path you have to walk right alongside the Tabernacle, with its open windows and full pews and wafting music.

The walk of shame.

“Must have been an intentional design,” I said, “back when the church was that way: ‘Sure you can go to the beach instead of to worship, but we see you. And we’re praying for you.’”

“Good, they can pray for me,” she quipped, “I’m going to go be dazzled by God.”

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And we were.

I recorded the surf for about five minutes. For a February fix, when it’s -2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here, you can have 35 seconds of it, in case you need it in February, too.

The sparkle and roar of the waves is as much a call to worship as any man-made song. I love the way the waves hit the beach and then scurry sideways along the shore.

After I made my movie,  I thumbed through a couple of books. My daughter, Stephanie, and I were away for the weekend on a personal retreat. The retreat center had a library, which was great because I forgot to pack something to read. If there had been WiFi or a decent cell signal, I would have read you, my blogging friends, but, alas, I borrowed a biography on Hudson Taylor and one on George Sweeting.

“Never suppress a generous impulse.” – George Sweeting

Every waitress and barista we encountered for the rest of the weekend benefited from that quote.

So did the panhandler and the street musician we encountered on Monday. Except it kind of bugged me afterward that I gave the same amount to both. I should have given the musician more. He, after all, was contributing something beautiful to my day.

We encountered a panhandler on Saturday, too, and I didn’t give him a dime. 1) I hadn’t yet been inspired by George 2) I felt no impulse toward generosity 3) He annoyed me.

I probably would have given him a dollar if he had just simply asked me to help him out. But he gave a long, annoying tale of woe about being from Chicago and being left by his buddies and it costs $15 for the megabus and his buddies were arrested in their hotel room and his story went on and on and changed as it went.

If we had been a scene in a movie, I would have held up my hand to stop him and said, “No, ‘cuz I’m not liking your vibe.”

But in real life I’m nicer so I just listened and nodded and, when he was finally finished, said, “Maybe I’ll have some change on the way back.” Knowing I wasn’t going that way back.

In real life I can be a tiny bit of a liar.

After spending the morning on the beach, we headed to town for lunch.

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lunch with legends

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Can you identify all four?

After lunch Steph ducked into a public restroom before our long walk through town, along the canal and out to the end of the pier.

She returned with a story:

Senior Lady 1: “I’m so glad I brought that chair with me, it puts NO pressure on your body.”

Senior Lady 2: “Oh yeah, when we walked over to the other bathrooms we saw those chairs everywhere.”

Senior Lady 1: “I didn’t want to be rude to Mary, but they only hold up to 250 pounds.”

Senior Lady 2: “She shouldn’t buy one.”

Restroom fell quiet for a minute.

All of a sudden one of the senior ladies started singing “Blessed Assurance” to herself in the stall.

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The pier at sunset on Saturday.

Sunday night we watched The Joy Luck Club on my laptop because there are no tvs on a personal retreat. I’m going to have to read the book now because I have unanswered questions.

I wondered whether there is some thing I should tell my daughter, something that will free her, show her her worth.

But I couldn’t think of anything.

It was beautiful in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

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That’s my lemongrass, rose, holy basil iced tea third seat from the left.

But it was really hot and steamy on Monday.

We thought it would be a little cooler along the river.

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It wasn’t.

We got coffee as soon as we arrived in GR Monday, right after putting our names in at our beloved Wolfgang’s.

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repurposed

I don’t like coffee shops or restaurants that are new and shiny.

I like coffee shops and restaurants that are old and re-purposed.

And good.

There are so many good restaurants and coffee shops in Grand Rapids. Especially in Eastown.

If they ever re-purpose a bank or some other cool old building into a boutique hotel, we’re staying there. We’re going to park ourselves in Eastown for a whole weekend and merrily eat and drink coffee.

Back home now listening to the rumble of thunder in the distance and the soothing sounds of my sleeping beagle right next to me.

Hopefully the coming rain will cool things off a bit.

Life is good.

P.S. If you find yourself in western Michigan:

The Electric Cheetah

Madcap Coffee Company

Snug Harbor

Electric Hero

Hearthstone

The Sparrows Coffee, Tea & Newstand

Wolfgang’s

 

 

 

 

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Food

Light lemon-lavender blueberry scones

I was in the front yard gathering hazelnuts – or was I in the backyard on a treasure hunt? (you dog owners know what I mean) It doesn’t matter, I was out in the yard picking up something or other when I had a thought – which may or may not have been profound.

I was thinking that maybe I should have parlayed my brains into considerable cash rather than taking the path of ministry.

‘Cuz Facebook is full of fabulous pics of fabulous trips. And it might be nice to have a lot of dough.

But then I started remembering Moses.

And how his feet stood atop a high mountain here on earth AFTER he was dead and gone.

Remember the pow-wow he and Elijah had with Jesus?

Scripture doesn’t name the high mountain, but most scholars think it was Mt. Tabor in Israel.

In the promised land.

Moses, as you will recall, was not allowed to enter the promised land while he was alive because of a breach in attitude. But AFTER he was a resident of heaven, he stood right there on Mt. Tabor, IN the promised land.

Because God is cool that way.

So I’m thinking that even if I never have enough dough to take a fab vacay, my glorified feet WILL stand on The Emerald Isle.  In the land of my people.

Or anywhere else they want to stand.

I don’t think I’ll miss out on anything by choosing a low-paying life of ministry.

‘Cuz I think God is going to turn out to be way cooler than any of us bargained and saved and worked all our lives for.

I trimmed my raspberry bushes way back so I’ll have a bountiful second harvest in the fall.

Then I gathered more hazelnuts.  ‘Cuz my gorgeous hazel rains nuts all day long.

After working hard in the yard – kinda’ hard, it’s hot – I didn’t feel like working hard in the house.

So I made scones instead.

I’ll walk you through the recipe in case you want to make them, too.

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Wash and dry 1 cup of blueberries and stick them in your freezer.  Why? I don’t know. I read somewhere that you should so I do. I think it prevents them from busting open.

Preheat your oven. 400 degrees for a conventional oven, 375 degrees for a convection oven.

Put the mixer’s bowl on your kitchen scale and dump 240 grams of all purpose flour into it.  It’s a lot easier than measuring.

Don’t have a kitchen scale?  Get one.  And just for today measure out two cups of flour.

Add 1 TBSP baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 cup lemon-lavender sugar.

Don’t have lemon-lavender sugar? Make some. You’ll find the instructions here.

Mix well.

Cut 3 oz. (6 Tablespoons) of cold, unsalted butter into cubes and add them to the dry ingredients.  Mix well on low.

Whisk 1 large egg and 6 oz. (3/4 cup) heavy cream together.  While mixer is still on low, add the cream/egg mixture until just combined.  Don’t overwork the dough.

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Dump in the blueberries.  Fold them in gently with your clean hands to keep the blueberries from breaking.

Form dough into a circle.  Cut into 8 triangles. Try to separate them a little. *

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Pour a little more cream into the bowl you used to whisk the eggs and cream and brush it on the scones.

Sprinkle with more lemon-lavender sugar.

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See all the bits of lemon and lavender in there?

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

When the hub comes home he’ll say something smells really good.

Then he’ll ask what’s in the oven.

You’ll say “blueberry scones” and he’ll say, “yay!”

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While you’re finishing your post he’ll have one and say, “I’m going to eat five of these for dinner.”

Which is good, ‘cuz you worked too hard in kitchen to cook.

* Note: If you want smaller scones, divide the dough and shape it into 4 discs.  Wrap each disc in waxed paper and refrigerate an hour or so (or overnight).  This way the dough firms up a bit and is easier to cut.  It also keeps the scones from spreading too much in the oven.

Cut each disc into 4 triangles, separate, brush with cream and bake only 15 minutes (‘cuz they’re smaller).

Bon appetit.

 

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life

Silence Hates

Linda over at Just Writing! wrote about the fallout from our country’s crisis of faith.  As a counselor, she sees much devastation from our casual and ignorant attitudes toward sex.

As an abstinence speaker, former social worker and former crisis pregnancy center director, I’ve seen the devastation, too.

So I added my amen to her post by leaving this comment:

99.99% 0f all cervical cancer is caused by strains of HPV.  There is a rise in mouth and throat cancers due to the epidemic of HPV. There is a link between breast cancer and aborting a first pregnancy.

Some of us think God is a killjoy.  God is a protector.

Some think God punishes sin. God protects from sin.

If a mom tells her two year old not to touch a hot stove, it’s not to spoil her two year old’s fun.

If the two year old touches the hot stove anyway and gets burned, the burn is not a punishment for disobedience, it’s a consequence of not heeding her mother’s protective warning.

Foolish people.  We aren’t sheep without a shepherd, we HAVE a Shepherd. We’re sheep with wool over our eyes.

Do yourself a favor. Do your kids a favor. Do your country a favor.  Educate yourself. Educate them.  You can start here: Public Service Announcement: It Ought to Come with a Warning.

And then speak up. Speak up and Love.

#nocondomlargeenough
#sharedwisdomloves
#silencehates

#crisis

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faith, Jesus

Feasting at a Troubled Table

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

It has happened a few times this summer, here, in my shady back yard.  A glimpse of sun glistening through the trees,
a brief, very brief, flicker of joy,
deep-buried joy.
Buried under an impenetrable sadness.
Not enough to spark ignition,
just a slight, fleeting flicker.

Glistening green evoking the carefree feelings of my childhood,
back when I used to sing to the sun.

Oh for childlike innocence.

Oh for a refreshed soul.

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Last night my church gathered to pray for peace.

It felt good to do something more than privately lament the escalating violence. It felt good to publicly lament; to add my signature to the Peace Petition.

Just as our prayers were about to begin, a voice spoke up:

“I have something to say.”

I turned and saw a tall, youngish man walking up the aisle.

“You can’t drink from the cup of God and from the cup of the devil.”

I expected someone to respond but no one did. Perhaps we were all processing his words.

Doesn’t that go without saying?

The man turned, walked back down the aisle and out the door.  An elderly man in the back asked, “What did he say?”

I thought he was someone from the church whom I had never seen before until the pastor suggested that he might be someone from the community who is hurting. So we prayed for him.

And then it occurred to me that he could come back with a gun. Shoot every one of us in that small gathering. It wasn’t a fearful thought, just a practical one.  Just a practical concern for our friends at home.

My daughter, the hub and I were all sitting side by side in a pew near the front. If he gunned all three of us down, it might be days before it occurred to anyone that the friends were all alone.

There is an exit that leads to a side door a couple of pews in front of us.

I’ll dive under the pews, I thought, drag myself out the door and make my way to the Escape.

The little beagle has been known to get into things when we are away. As a result, there is nothing but canned goods on the lower shelves.  Perhaps I should start leaving a little something that she and Max can chew their way into.  Just to hold them over until help arrives.

My thoughts returned to the corporate prayers, Scripture and interspersed singing. The pastor invited anyone who was so moved to come forward and pray what was on our hearts.

My heart saw an image of the people in France, terrified and running for their lives, being mowed down by a truck.

My heart remembered what it felt like in the aftermath of 9/11.

I imagined the survivors and the families of the slain and all of France reeling as we did, wondering if life will ever feel good again.

I remembered the weight of that thick, evil veil.

So I went forward and prayed for them.

And I think I know, now, why the flicker of joy doesn’t ignite.

I’ve been holding my breath since 9/11.  I’ve been waiting for the violence to end; for the veil to be lifted. I’ve been waiting to feel good again.

But I may never feel good again.

That sparkling sun flickering gently, hopefully through the trees in my secluded, peaceful backyard seems like a mean tease.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

But perhaps that’s the way it has always been.  A feast set in the midst of the famine.

A table in the presence of my enemies.

I read an article about slain police officer Montrell Jackson. In the article his sister, Joycelyn Jackson, was quoted as saying, “It’s coming to the point where no lives matter, whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or whatever.”

She’s right. No lives matter to the enemy of our souls.

Black, white, Jewish, Muslim, Christian.  We will all have a turn.

It’s time for me to stop waiting for things to get better. It’s time to finally exhale and enjoy the blessings that are in front of me now.

Because things may never get better. Things may get worse.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Our Heavenly Father has gone to the trouble of preparing a feast of goodness and love even in the midst of this earthly strife.

It suddenly seems wrong not to eat.

#cometothetable

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5

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faith

Beneath the empty/full glass is God.

They say the fullness of the glass has to do with optimism and pessimism. Maybe.

But I think there’s more to it.

Competition and camaraderie.

When one of my sisters is blessed with, say, a huge, beautiful new house, I am delighted.

I am delighted because a) huge, beautiful, shiny new houses are possible, and b) because her blessing is also my blessing.  For an hour or two here and there, I get to enjoy her big, beautiful house, too.

Bent toward camaraderie, the blessings bestowed upon others are my blessings, too. When my sister’s glass gets a little fuller, so does mine.

If I were bent toward competition, I would see it differently. The blessing bestowed on my sister would deplete mine. I would compare our glasses and see only the gap between the levels. The empty gap.

Suddenly I have nothing.

Beneath the empty/full glass is God.

When we don’t know God very well, our logic goes like this:

Our glasses are the same full therefore God likes us the same. All is well.

Pour a little more into another glass and suddenly God does not like us all the same. All is not well. Now it’s all:

He likes her more than me.

She going to pull so far ahead that I’ll never catch up.

HE IS GOING TO LEAVE ME IN HER DUST.

Shattered.

When our hearts are nestled closely against His our logic goes like this:

Our glasses are the same full. We all have enough. God is good.

Pour a little more into her glass and God is even more generous. Maybe He’ll pour a little more into my glass, too. God is really good.

Confident in His love for us, we happily wait our turn.

While we wait we start thinking about all the ways He has already been generous to us, too. We realize that our glass is fuller than we thought it was. Just as full as others’. Fuller, even, in levels unseen.

Someone, I don’t remember who, said, “Contentment is not the fulfillment of what we want, it is the realization of how much we already have.”

Camaraderie toasts Generosity with an acrylic glass of gratitude.

Competition guzzles it with a crystal goblet of greed.

#shatterproof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jesus, Light, Michigan, Stories from the Island

Sunny, Semi-Serene September

I last visited Mackinac Island on a cold and mostly cloudy weekend in October 2014.

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If you know anything about the island, you know that cars are not permitted there. It’s all walking, bicycles and horse-drawn taxis.

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The island bustles with tourists and clip-clopping horses all summer long. But by late October it is a quiet retreat. A beautiful, quiet retreat. This view from my balcony, with the lone worker heading to his early-morning post, captures the autumn serenity.

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The nights in October are serene, too.

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Gone are the late-night bar hoppers, catching the last ferry back to the mainland. Nothing left but the peaceful glow of quiet streets.

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Excitement was high on that last trip as my daughter, two of her friends and I boarded the ferry to the island.

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Excitement was high as we checked into the Grand Hotel.

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And excitement was high when we returned, as we contemplated all that God had done.

Back then I shared a little something my daughter wrote in the afterglow.

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I’m sharing it again:

Shelby and Lesley and I weren’t the only ones on the island this past weekend. We brought women with us. Women who deserved to be blessed. Women who needed to know how God felt about them and who He created them to be. Women who had stories to tell, stories that would allow us to learn from each other.

We brought former prostitutes and addicts. We brought women who used to work the streets, and women who currently go out and minister to those who still do.

Really, my mom brought them. She planned the whole retreat and listened when God told her who to invite. Perhaps I don’t know all the factors that were taken into consideration when she chose the hotel on the island as our location, but I don’t think any of us thought about the significance of crossing over water to get to an island until Brenda did.

Brenda was one of the women who came with us. When she shared her story last night, we found out she had been gang-raped at the age of fourteen, an incident that propelled her into prostitution, promiscuity, and drug use until she eventually surrendered her life to Jesus.

During introductions on the first morning Brenda said “I know that God brought us across the water to cleanse us from everything that happened over there. When we go back, it’s going to be over.”

I got chills. And I am just so thankful for everything that this weekend was, and a God who brings His children across the water.

I revisited the island this morning for two reasons:

1. WordPress prompted me to do so.

2. I am planning to return with another group of women. Hopefully in sunny, semi-serene September.

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Jesus, Light

No Empty Words Spoken Here

An atheist asked this of me in the comment section of another blogger’s post:

“May I inquire what was the evidence that convinced you of the truth of the biblical claims?”

I went to the trouble of typing up a rather lengthy reply knowing it would likely be wasted on him. And since I hate wasted efforts, I’ll share it with you. I don’t think I’ve ever told you my testimony…  Here’s what I told him:

My dad was raised Protestant and my mom was raised Catholic. When they married, my dad converted to Catholicism because that was the deal back then.  He took the classes and then he taught the classes.

We said grace at dinner, we said our prayers before bed, we sat in the cry room on Sunday mornings.

When I was in first grade I started attending catechism classes. I was given a workbook with Jesus on the cover. He was sitting under a tree with a big smile on His face and children on His lap. I was drawn to that smiling face, to those eyes that delighted in the children. I felt Love emanating from the cover of that book and I couldn’t wait to learn all about Him.

But there were some boys in the class, minions. I spent 95% of the class time with my hands folded quietly on my desk waiting for the teachers to chase the boys back into their seats.

Not long after that we stopped going to church. Something about abortion and excommunication and my fourth grade sister making something up to confess and being too intelligent for such nonsense….

No more grace, no more bedtime prayers. It felt like we were booting a member of our family.

Laying in my trundle bed one night I said, “That’s okay, Jesus, you can stay with me.”

But over barren years I forgot all about Him.

I had a work-study job in the Fisheries and Wildlife office when I was in college. One of the secretaries befriended me.  She sometimes invited me to softball games at her church but I was way too cool.

One weekend home I learned that my dad’s journey through lots of metaphysical readings ended with faith in Christ. His wife told me he was praying for my sisters and me.  I thought that was nice and that, as a result, I would probably be a Christian, too, one day. Whichever day God decided it would be. I went on my merry way not feeling any need, desire or compulsion to do anything about it.

I graduated and moved home to my mother’s house not too long afterward while my secretary friend fought Hodgkin’s disease.  She told me that people she didn’t even know were coming up to her at church to say they were praying for her.

So laying on the sofa in the library at my mom’s house one night, I thought, Well, if I’m going to be a Christian some day, I might as well start now. So I prayed for her, too, and I asked God to bring something good out of her suffering.

Immediately my spirit, still attached to my body by a thin silver strand, was before the throne.  It was like a zoom lens. And I saw God. Just as I zoomed in, Jesus stood up to greet me. He was transparent and I could see His Father seated behind him holding a scepter and smiling.  It was an unforgettable smile that said “I have everything under control and I am pleased.”

And then I was startled by this thought, If I stay too long I might not be able to go back.

And with that buzz-killing thought I was back on the sofa.

I whispered into the air, “I remember You!” I remembered the cover of that book and my longing to know Him. It was like being reunited with and old forgotten friend.

That is when our 32-year-long-and-continuing conversation began. It’s when I started studying the Bible, too.

Sometimes I regret not opening my mouth and asking, when I was there at the throne, if it would be okay to stay.

But that glimpse was enough – enough to sustain me through tough and confusing times in the past, enough to give me peace in this unsettling present and, I trust, enough to get me through even tougher times in the future.

I know you asked for Biblical evidence you could refute, but it isn’t Biblical evidence that convinced me. It was that glimpse, that smile.

Arguing with me would be no fun for you because my faith is not in the Bible and I will not twist myself into a pretzel trying to defend the inerrancy of it.  God is without error but those who have taken His dictation, translated and taught it are not.

And then I asked God to do for him what He did for me. Maybe you’ll say a prayer for him, too.

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
Ecclesiastes 12:6-7

#empty

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