Sixty Years

FullSizeRender

 

Sixty years. Today is my parents’ anniversary. Sixty years of marriage.

I love the picture below of them; I love the joy in my mom’s expression. What a lifetime lay before them: five children, countless adventures. Probably a hundred Chesapeake Retriever dogs. Elk hunting trips, parties. Mom as President of the Symphony. Dad establishing a legacy as a builder. Mom leading Bible Study Fellowship as a lecturer.

 

So much laughter, so many tears…so many stories cover those 60 years.

momdad

 

I wish Mom could remember them all. I wish she knew in this moment what a wonderful life she has led. I wish she knew how loved she has been, and how many care about her.

 

I hope that there is some awareness,  I hope she knows in some way that she is loved. I think there is some awareness of the tenderness around her. Some comfort in being surrounded by laughter still, and by stories.

 

SammyGrandmaLaugh

This is not what my Dad imagined for his future. This is what it is though, and he has continued to love my Mom well. He has continued to give us an example of love that doesn’t stop when things are difficult. He has continued to see God in the midst of this life, and we are the richer for that. There is a bonding that happens in suffering that cannot happen in blessing.

 

FathersDayDad2

I’m thankful for the memories we hold as a family. Maybe that is why I keep opening this blog and recording these thoughts; holding these memories in place so they are here if I begin to forget.

 

We snap our pictures and have our life lived out on social media, creating a journal of sorts. Registering our thoughts and our events and the things that are important…and yet, there is need for more reflection. For more than the quick thought and the perfect image. We need room for the things that take the rug out from under us. Room for those things to settle and for our hearts and emotions to meet with our mind, for us to find where God is working in the midst of it all. We need to take the time away from the celebratory social media postings to hear and see what God is doing.

 

That gives us the foundation for what might come.

 

I know that life may not play out as I imagine. I know there are things ahead which will be wonderful, and things ahead which will be difficult. There is great comfort in knowing that I walk this life with those who love well. There is great comfort in knowing that I walk this life in the care of a God who is Sovereign. One who sees beyond the moment we are caught in, and knows how it will all fit together.

 

Trust to God to weave  your little thread into the great web, though the pattern shows it not yet.  – George MacDonald

Sixty years. Worth celebrating and worth recognizing. Even when it is difficult and not exactly what was hoped for. Still an amazing life together.

MomDad

Advertisements

Fan the Flame

Did you see the finale of Survivor this year? The moment where the two contestants have to perform the fire making challenge. The moment where everything rests on that little spark of flame being nurtured and protected and fanned into a fire burning through a rope.

 

That little spark is everything. Keeping that flame alive. Their place in the game depended on their ability to burn through that rope.

flame_on_fire_by_scharx-d4n0upv

Life, in this moment, feels a little like that fire making challenge.  The constant demand of the news and culture to pay attention to who is arguing with whom and who is throwing rocks, literally. The demand of simply life with a family full of schedules and laundry and meals and the need to be heard. The demand of my emotions and my body.

 

There needs to be a moment where all the attention is on that little flame that brings life. The spark that can become a flame bringing life and warmth and renewal. It needs attention.

 

I can feel my irritation build through the days, my impatience and my uncertainty. It comes out in snaps to the children….when they have really done nothing wrong. It comes out in that desire to simply stay in bed in the morning. It comes out in the awareness that I need something, Someone, beyond myself in the midst of all of this life. The irritation and the impatience are the fruit of all the chaos around me. I feel out of control and that feeling has to manifest somehow.

 

In those moments, when I realize why I am snapping and being impatient, I have to turn the attention away from what is feeding the chaos.

 

I have to hear whispers of the faith that come in the moments of the day. Reminders of God’s faithfulness. Reminders of His grace. Reminders of His wisdom and His plan. They catch my attention and I find the irritation and the impatience and the uncertainty retreat in the midst of Truth.

 

 

“I got there as the saints were marching in

I sat down on the back row

and heard the story once again.

And the servants of the secret fire

were gathered there

the embers of the ages

like a living prayer

And all at once I saw the shadows flee

Shine Your light on Me

Be a light unto my path

and a lamp unto my feet.”

Andrew Peterson’s “Shine Your Light on Me”. I was driving down the road, windows down and sun shining, when this came up on my playlist. Words that remind me there is a struggle, but there is also One who brings help. And, reminds me that I am not alone. Servants of the secret fire.

I need those reminders, and I need to act on the truths they bring to mind. I approached a few friends about starting a book club, a chance to meet and talk about our faith in a more intentional and intimate way than I have in other situations. We are reading J.I. Packer’s Knowing God. The information is not new, but the chance to discuss is so refreshing. The awareness that we are not alone, that we can encourage and learn from each other.

I know I am not saying anything new. Yes, we need to think about our faith. Yes, we need to talk to friends about our faith. Yes, songs inspire us, especially well written songs. Yep, got that, thanks for the reminder!

I’m saying a little more, though: I’m saying in the midst of these storms of dialog about gender identity and this crazy election season, and the stresses of so many being overworked, or unemployed…we need even more intention to think about our faith. We need those friends to talk with who remind us of the reality of a Creator God, a God who moves history in a certain direction. A God who brings healing and refreshing, who breathes life into our reality.

We need to intentionally lash ourselves to these friends and to this truth. Have you heard that phrase…”Lash yourselves to (fill in the blank).”? Ulysses used it, when he was sailing his ship past the Sirens and he wanted to hear them, but he knew if the crew of his ship heard the Sirens they would be destroyed. So he put wax in the ears of his crew and had them lash him to the mast of the ship. He could hear the Sirens, but the crew focused on the task. He knew, in the moment before the confusion came, that he needed to protect himself and he needed to make choices that would carry him through the confusion.

Sitting around a table, sipping coffee, laughing and talking about God…I am lashing myself to the mast. I am making a choice in the midst of a moment of calm to do something that will carry me through moments of confusion.

We so need this in our lives. Find someone, find something that speaks life into your reality…and lash yourself to them, to it. In the moments of calm, intentionally turn your direction to learning how to fan that spark into a flame. Then, when the test comes, when everything is on the line, you will be prepared.

When the news unsettles you, when the FaceBook feed infuriates you…go back to the ancient Truths. Again, a little help from Andrew Peterson. Have you heard his music? If you haven’t, click on the video below and be encouraged. Then go listen to a few more of his songs. I quote Frederick Buechner and G.K. Chesterton here quite a lot, now is a chance to introduce you to another favorite. Feeling overwhelmed this morning? Go listen for a bit…

“Go back, go back to the ancient paths
Lash your heart to the ancient mast
And hold on, boy, whatever you do
To the hope that’s taken hold of you
And you’ll find your way
You’ll find your way

If love is what you’re looking for
The old roads lead to an open door
And you’ll find your way
You’ll find your way
Back home”

 

She Littered our World with Glitter and Pink

newmaddie271024

This face. This little one who changed our world.

 

She was not expected. In fact, she was a surprise which left us feeling a bit overwhelmed when we first learned she was arriving. Funny how God’s surprises can be exactly what we need…even when at first we don’t know how or why.

 

 

wintercoat

 

This little one, five years ago, changed our world of all boys to a world littered with glitter and pink.

IMG_2648

 

And wonder.

So much wonder. Her imagination staggers me. All the boys have been creative and imaginative…but Miss Madeleine Jane takes it all to a completely different level. I will catch her running through the house, stop sharply, lean over and whisper something to the air, and take off again. Playing some game with some imaginary friend. Giggling and laughing her way through the day.

IMG_8895

This little one is filled with humor and sharp whit. She understands and grasps the world around her in a remarkable way. She is delightful, wonder-filled, fierce and brave.

IMG_2186

The other day a friend asked her if she was brave when she saw King Leo on the trailer for the new Jungle Book Movie. “Yes. I thought I would be brave, and I was  braver than I thought I would be.”

IMG_8760

She loves worms and teacups in the same degree. She can embrace you with spontaneous hugs or scream at the top of her lungs…within seconds of each other.

Maddie party (7)

We had no idea we needed so much pink, so much wonder and so much love in our midst.

IMG_1720

We celebrated her fifth birthday with a fairy garden.

IMG_0053

IMG_2667

IMG_2691

We gave her some ingredients, and she is already filling them with life.

IMG_2692 (1)

Dragonflies

She is already learning that there is danger around her. She asked the other day if there were bad guys in real life. Sadly, yes there are. She is preparing herself though, listening to fairy tales and truths. Learning about courage and wonder. Filling her heart and her imagination with stories of bravery and of humility and of wonder.

We will keep giving her the tools, and we will keep looking on as she twirls and delights and reminds of so much good. She will continue to shape our world to have more laughter and more love than we could have imagined. What a delight-filled surprise she has become.

IMG_2704

Happy Birthday, Maddie Jane.

IMG_9381

 

“To cease to wonder is to fall plumb-down from the childlike to the commonplace—the most undivine of all moods intellectual. Our nature can never be at home among things that are not wonderful to us.” – George MacDonald