Life, at the lowest of lows, can only go up. A penny in your path, brilliantly glinting in the moonlight, can bring no more misfortune than that which is already upon you.
But- when life at its highest of highs as high as the moon is finally redeemed, the risk to lose it all with a garish move is too great.
And so, you step over the brilliance reflecting the moon in hopes that the next person sees it, in hopes that they look at it and ponder, “Well, life can only go up from here. Here’s to nothing, and everything at the same time.”
My dog loves when my mom comes into town to visit. A visit from “Grandma” (yes, my dog calls my mom “Grandma”) means extra dog treats and lots of extra walks while I am away at work.
My mom has always loved flowers and gardening, just as her mother did. My mom loves the fragrance of peonies (her favorite), lilacs, and magnolias the best. Ever since we visited Hawaii seven years ago she has worn a beautiful Hawaiian magnolia-scented lotion, because it “takes her back” each time she puts it on her skin. The fragrance is sweet, but light. It’s noticeable, but not overbearing.
After one of my mom’s visits I took my dog out for a run. I grabbed her leash and my keys, turned on my music, and off we went. Wait, was that a Magnolia tree I smelled? No trees were in sight. A few minutes into the run I itched a particular itchy itch on my nose. Suddenly I thought I was running past another Magnolia tree. I finally realized that my mom had applied her Hawaiian lotion before walking my dog, therefore leaving the scent behind on her leash.
I couldn’t help but think of the type of fragrance I leave behind as a Christian. Is it that of fruit? (The fruits of the spirit.) Or is it that of trash? (Sin and mess and uncleanliness.) We each have an aroma, a fragrance of the heart. What do you smell like?
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
“God…uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (NIV)
When people ask how I’m doing, I usually respond with, “I’m blessed.”
I am blessed, or at least I feel blessed, but perhaps I’m really trying to communicate that I’m blessed. Perhaps it’s a cover-up for trying to shift my mind to a humble/thankful perspective. I don’t do it intentionally or even pridefully, I just respond with “I’m blessed” because that’s how I feel. How am I blessed? I’m alive, have a job, have a roof over my head, transportation at my disposal, friends with whom I laugh, food in my belly, and a few extra dollars every now and then. That makes me “blessed,” right?
Nowhere in the Bible does God promise worldly comfort and ease as blessings.
If we take a look at Matthew chapter 5 we will see what actually makes us blessed.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”
I want to be “blessed” according to God, not according to this world.
Father let us be blessed according to your word, so that we might be a living testimony of your love and faithfulness. Help us be thankful for the worldly comforts we have and not take them for granted, but let us not get caught up in idolatry. We need you to help us renew our minds so that we can keep our focus on you. In your holy name, Amen.
Feeding the Hungry
Working in the food industry has surely given me an amplified perspective on people and hunger, as well as the necessity of food and nourishment in life.
It may be a surprise to some that even in 2014, people around the globe go to bed hungry at night. I’m grateful and blessed to work for a company that works ardently to feed people around the world and cut down on the problem of world hunger.
It’s not news that the word of God is considered “food” and that as we read the Bible, go to church, or listen to sermons we are nourished and fed.
So we do those things and check the box and our spiritual bellies are full, but what are we doing to feed others? If those in our circle of influence were to sit at a proverbial banquet table, would they, too, be fed? Or would they be starved?
Let’s invite them to have a seat with us at the banquet table of Christ.
We should be inviting, encouraging, uplifting, loving, and giving to others, feeding them with the everlasting nourishment of Jesus Christ.
“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 NIV)
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV)
There is a solid appropriateness of “Nothing Gold Can Stay” in the echo of my heart.
“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
There aren’t many things I can tangibly feel these days.
The warmth of your skin has slipped away. The hum of your lips against mine has dissipated.
Even my breasts feel numb as I pull your t-shirt on before I crawl into my empty bed.
I sit cross-legged on the counter, staring at the fading flame in my hands.
Pursing my lips together I exhale, gently blowing the candle out. Smoke climbs with arthritis
up to my lips and taints me with suffocation.
I sit in my reading chair, my book balanced on the armrest, untouched.
Four pages from the end and I can’t concentrate; my thoughts wander to you.
In my hand is a stone I pulled from the river the day you taught me how to skip rocks.
I finger the stone, over and over, remembering the sun on our backs, your hand
on my face, the quiet stillness of “this is so right” that swooped in like a Pelican on the bank.
Almost 30 Years Ago
Two young sisters laid on the back deck of their upstate New York home. One had a pink sleeping bag, the other a glow-in-the-dark sleeping bag. Both were in their ruffled pajamas and were staring up at the big night sky. The younger sister closed her eyes, enjoying the tickling of her curls on her cheek, just as the older sister exclaimed, “Look! A shooting star!” The younger sister’s eyes popped open, darting back and forth along the dark canvas to see what her older sister saw. She missed seeing every shooting star that night.
But in her heart, she vowed to herself that someday she would love a man who would show her all the shooting stars in the world.
Our Third Date
I watched as you intensely stroked blue and black paint together, meticulously stirring to get precisely the color you wanted. You handed me the paintbrush and asked me to paint the hills in the background, in front of which you’d paint the most beautiful tree. I’d paint the town, you’d paint the church.
Together we painted the sky.
The Day I Wish We Could Take Back
I knew that I didn’t want to go another day without you playing a star role in my life. It took me longer to fall in love but I was willing to give love another chance. You were so worth the risk.
If there was one thing I wasn’t expecting, it was the last thing you did before the curtains closed. You looked at our painting hanging on my wall and said, pointing, “I never noticed this before, but those two lines right there look like shooting stars.”
Before you kissed me one last time
hugged me one last time
and walked away with my piece of the starry night sky in your pocket.
There was a man who pulled two pieces right out of the sky, clenching them in his hand. One for him, and one for his love.
They say there’s also a man in the moon. I think that means a man will give his woman the moon right out of the sky, regardless of the cost.
- – -
The flowers rot in a wide-mouth mason jar. They were vibrant, fresh, and sturdy. Now they drip their stink, drooling onto the counter.
There’s dust on the frames she can’t bring herself to take down. As she exhales to uncover the life they used to share, she sees his heart, right on his sleeve where he left it. She sees her comfort, his confidence, his ease, their love.
There’s a shirt hanging in her closet. Its arms once longed for her, offering strength, protection, and unending love. Now it droops, lifeless, a wavered longing.
What was extravagant is now dull. What sounded of music now sounds of noise. When she walks, her steps only sync with her own shadow.
His pillow is cold,
His toothbrush is dry,
The sunshine he offered hides in the sky.
- – -
There was a man who pulled two pieces right out of the sky, clenching them in his hand. One for him and one for his love.
She was scared he might take hers back, so she stole it from him.