doctrines of men

I once asked a mother of three grown sons what her secret was.   I’d known her boys since my earliest camp days, and even back then, they were kind and chivalrous and fun and well-mannered and would roar and beat their chests like crazy when singing indoor chapel songs.

She smiled sweetly like she always does whenever I talk to her.  It was almost a sad smile, like she knew of sorrows I didn’t yet know.  My oldest son was only four, I figured I still had time to learn.   I did know this–her boys hadn’t always walked the straight and narrow path.

You know what she said?

She said, “Just love ’em.”

People have so many opinions these days.

It can all be overwhelming at times.

But I like what this woman said.

You can love your children wherever they are.

your own words

While on my blogging break, I was surprised to find a rest in writing more, not less.  My new journal stayed close beside me, ready to take on my words at any given moment.  Multiple times a day I found myself jotting down words, thoughts and feelings in the moment, along with quotes I liked from books I’d been reading.  The paper and pen could meet me, could be there for me, in a way the keyboard on a computer cannot.  And where opening the computer to write often comes with a feeling of guilt or neglect for children or duties, opening my journal seems a much more present and natural light.

“Watching, listening, learning, I begin to feel at ease where I am, come to know the language of the wind, the daily path of the summer sun, the proximity of stars.  And so it is that the contours of this landscape slowly inscribe themselves on my heart, on all our hearts, as sense memories accrue by layers, one day blending seamlessly into the next.”
~Katrina Kenison, The Gift of an Ordinary Day~

You see, when you look into the eyes of an artist long enough, you begin to understand an inner world outside of your own.  Your eyes become like the hand of a neuro-surgeon, carving a pathway to the inmost being in ways man only thinks that he knows.  The artist makes an imprint on your heart, a change in your perspective, and ultimately, a change in the way you live your life.  His life shows up in the presentation of your life .  His art becomes the inspiration for your own.  The artist becomes a part of you.

This is all just a meandering way of getting around to our school work.  In an imitation of former teachers, the big kids were given the task of writing a two page paper, on any topic of their choice.  They each chose to write about an animal.  This was a good excuse to hunt through the various sets of hand-me-down encyclopedias, bored on the bookshelves, hoping at length for a chance to be used. I asked this of them knowing full well how much I hated writing papers, for I’m still learning things myself. I’m reminded of many a frustrated and blank-staring minutes, my desk piled high with library books and words galore, waiting for my own words to magically appear out of nowhere.   

I saw the same frustration this morning.   The kids hovered over the paragraphs of lions and coyotes, worried their own words had come to an end.  They only had enough words for one page, not two.  Straying from the familiar words of using your own words, I offered a suggestion, hoping to renew their hope for the next full page.  I told them they could copy what they read in between the black and white lines.  Read and write what you see.  It’s not plagiarism, plagiarism is stealing.  It’s work, copy work at differing levels.   You copy the words, not to claim them as your own, but to borrow them for a time, but only for a time, when the time will surely come to give them back with joy.


in loving memory

We both loved the same man.

I know.

Believe me, I know.

How many times do we need to go through this?

I don’t know.

It’s only been six months since we left.

It’s only the second time we’ve been back since the first time we drove away.

The kids took a walk inside the house.  It’s good for them to do that, and I’m happy they did.  You invited me to come along, and I did take a peek inside the door, but for now, I’m content to remain on the outside, at a distance.  Maybe one day it’ll be different.

Maybe one day we’ll drive through town for old time’s sake and our teenage kids’ll all pile out of that beat up minivan.  We’ll knock on the door to be answered by the pastor’s wife who’ll already know who we are because this is the town where everybody knows your name and you’re the type of people who cherish and remember their pastors. Pastor  isn’t home yet, he’s still over at the wedding reception, but she’ll apologize for the mess as she opens the door to welcome us in to take a look around, like the time when Pastor Nebel and his wife and children all came by.

Not yet though. Not today.

But I heard all about how you’re getting the house good and fixed up again.  Man that place looked good when we moved in.  You don’t know  who’ll be living there next, but that’s okay, God knows.   You just leave that up to Him and keep on doing what you’re doing.  Keep on gutting out the bathroom and tearing up the carpets and keep on making that place the home away from home.   You guys were so wonderful about that.  We had the best parsonage a pastor could ever have, including a brand new dishwasher after John was born, a gift we never even had to ask for.

You know, I can’t say for sure, but something tells me this wasn’t a coincidence.  One of the trustees’ wives, her name was Lisa, came over to babysit one night.  The very next day her husband was knocking on the front door, telling us as soon as we had the chance, to head over to Lowe’s and pick ourselves out a new dishwasher.  We’d gotten by three years without one, and figured we didn’t really need one, because, well, this is the way it had always been done.  But that day Brad said it was about time, that the pastor’s wife, a new mom of four little young ones, ought to have herself a dishwasher.


I didn’t understand why I felt so sad over that tree being gone, seemed like a silly thing to  shed a tear over.  Then I came home and looked through some pictures.  Then I remembered we loved that tree.  I don’t mean to go on and on, but this is a story of long lasting love, and true love isn’t always easy, and here’s where I think I’m going with all this:

You and I both loved the same man, and that’s okay.

It’s okay you always will.


the story and the song



“I have the weakness of a teacher, who thinks that his task is to bring light to others, to cast pearls before them, if you will, and who therefore often forgets how needy he himself is.  I’m tempted to think, ‘God has set me before these students to bring them some moment of light’, and that may not be such a bad thing to consider.  But while I am busy bringing light and congratulating myself for it, I maybe be missing the true light and forgetting that God has sent the students to me so that my own darkness may be dispelled.”
~Anthony Esolen, Reflections on the Christian Life~




O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother
like a weaned child is my soul with in me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
~Psalm 131~


the harvest home

God will provide all we need.

We stress and we worry.  We frantically chase down the blaring goal at hand.  We plan and make due and adjust when things don’t go our way.  We collapse at the end of the day, knowing the best we could do wasn’t enough, and even if it was, it has to be done all over again tomorrow.  We beat ourselves up when life beats us down. It’s the vicious circle of hope and despair, of love and mid-life.  It’s a beautiful pattern whether or not we ever learn to embrace it.  For every single time we end up in the exact same spot–the arms and loving provision of God.

O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, and His steadfast love endures forever.

Our need is what makes the love of God go round.  Our need is what turned the heavens upside down.  Our need is the prayer of begging please.  Our need is what brought our Lord to His knees.   Rejoice and be glad when in want or in need.  Your tears are the fruit of a humble invitation.  Loose your belt and open your lips, your ears, your hands and your heart. The Son of God reigns in joyful abundance.  Take and eat the goodness of family and friends, job and home, earth and sky.  Receive this Burning Light, this Hope of all hopes, the God of all comfort and life.

He is evermore giving even more of Himself.