My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
A rush of chilled air hit my face as I walked through the automatic doors of Walmart. The relentless and undiminished sunlight of the Carolina summer day felt unbearable. A trickle of sweat ran down my back. I breathed a sigh of relief, the store's coolness acting as a giant parasol. Walmart's familiarity felt comforting too. I knew exactly where to find the dental floss sticks I like and the shade of fingernail polish I wear. I knew where the bottles of organic cinnamon would be, the wild-caught tuna and the flaxseed. The comfort of sameness.
I need protection from life's incessant heat and list here a few portals of refuge I create for myself...
Nature and movement. I rose early to avoid the worst heat. I did not want to get up, but knew I could stave off feelings of low mood and negative thoughts if I went outside and moved. The storm-rinsed clouds and swatch of blue sky above me felt like inhaling an intoxicating blend of hope and expectation of good. A lone bird perched on a wire assuaged my loneliness, its presence acting as a companion, encouraging me to trust in the creator who says, "Look at the birds. If I care for them, won't I care much more for you?"
When the present presses in so hard we can't imagine a future, the past hints at a larger order and shows us why and how we'll move forward. It can be like a map.~from Together by Judy Goldman
Our house is in chaos after a longterm bathroom leak went undetected, the floors rotted through under the tile. To repair the damage, the entire bathroom needed to be refurbished. We are in process and it is messy and expensive to make things better, to transform the old and nonfunctional bathroom. A lot like the calamity in real life.
I listened to a song this morning that brought comfort. The song is entitled Never Saw Blue by Hayley Westenra (You can listen here if you like Never Saw Blue).The concept caused me to wonder if this might be my brother-in-law's response when he crossed into eternity this past week. My sister called with the news of his death, and the response for our family was like a black ribbon of sorrow that spooled through our lives. This was a man greatly loved and cherished by my sister, a man who deeply loved my sister in return. A man who loved his daughter. A man who loved God. When I heard the song, I wondered if perhaps this lovely man may have had a similar encounter when he entered the heavenly realm, a blue so pure that he felt awestruck. Blue in spiritual symbolism represents grace. Perhaps the vivid color and extravagant concept melded to create an overwhelming feeling of love and peace, his Kingdom inheritance.
Meanwhile we grieve his absence this side of heaven. We weep.
The pale Italian sky reflects my face, drained of rose and sun, twisted with sorrow. My ex-husband died yesterday after post-operative complications.
I skyped with my daughter--our daughter--and we wept together. She said he had "landed softly" and that she had a vision of him being welcomed by Jesus "and he felt so loved, the Lord so happy to see him, calling him friend," she said through hot tears that streaked her cheeks.
Death paradoxically characterized by joy in the certainty that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus." Yet we are still here when the one who has left is in the near presence of the Lord.
I grieve for my children who are left without an earthly father. I mourn that I was not the wife my former husband needed me to be, that our marriage could not transcend the deep longings each of us held. My heart is broken for the wife he leaves behind. Fragments and splinters and slivers of sadness lay scattered at my feet.
Amid this grievous rubble, standng with me, is the One who also wept at His friend's grave, the high Priest who understands separation and loss. I pick up each shard of lament, each shred of disconsolation, and hand them over to Him. In return, He presses into my hands comfort and peace, the reality of His mercy and constancy in heaven and on earth.
Music, coffee, making lists--my antidotes for stress when I wrote in my journal, "I would like to step off the edge of this intensity and slow down. I need some space to unfold and breathe."
I continued reading journal entries for the last six weeks--the craving for stillness and silence underscored on almost every page. Yet other entries bobbed to the surface--all the ways God's kindness to guide and tutor me parallel my insecurities--the paradox of experiencing jubilation in the midst of circumstancial stressors.
I wrote, "I have stayed in the light. I have gotten close to the dark edges, but I have not moved out of His encircling presence. I have used my spiritual coping tools of 'saying no;' 'listening to empowering podcasts,' 'writing down insights,' and 'reading.' I must work to stay in the light and utilize every coping mechanism available. Keep it simple. Pray. Declare promises. Do not fret or worry. Be of good courage. Relax into the provision. God is good, and His heart is unchanging toward me."
I am learning peace. I am learning grace.
God intends refreshment.
I unfurl my faith.