Category Archives: Friendship

We Need a Raising, Lord

With much love for L and S

Where are You,  O God? Where are You for our friends? I plant my elbows on the navy-checked tablecloth. I stare at the corncob salt-and-peppers from the thNov. 2015 248rift shop–mere specks of dust in the universe, but they usually make me smile. Not today. My heart is heavy.

Outside, brilliant oranges and yellows proclaim the time of rest for trees. Winter approaches—the first snows dust the tops of the nearby foothills. The once-dry creek roars again. My mind roars, too. But I want to hope.The evidence of You is all around.

Are You wrapped around our friends today? Are You their refuge and strength? Are You holding them up? August 2015 212

Why are these friends continuously pummeled by storms with little rest—cancer, deaths of loved ones, dementia in both fathers, and the latest blow–arrest of a son for whom they’ve prayed, sacrificed, counseled, and laid down their lives in every arena?

Satan pounds them without abatement. The “Adam” bombs of mortality threaten to blast them to dust and grind them to spit.

“In Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17) They’ve hidden their lives in You, Lord. Please hold them together.Nov. 2015 313

We’re not supposed to ask why. But Moses did. David did. May I ask for them, Lord? May I beg a respite for them from the storms? How much more? Will You hide them in the shelter of Your wings?

Can they find refuge in sleep? They bury their faces in wet pillows. A God who makes autumn and constellations and babies to grow inside us–the conclusion will be perfect, yes, but it looks a mess now. Where is the ray of hope?Nov. 2015 037

The sister of Lazarus said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21 NASB) Jesus asked Martha if she believed He could raise the dead. She did, she said, yes, certainly, sometime in the future.  But Jesus raised Lazarus that very day.

We need a raising, Lord.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)

Nov. 2015 018Open our eyes, Lord. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jer. 32:27)

When Job lost his animals, servants, buildings, children, and health, he asked why. You answered him with Your beauty and majesty, Your authority over the store houses of snow and every created thing. Job fell on his face and retracted his questions as piffle.

We want to retract our questions but, right now, none of what’s happening feels like piffle.It feels like our hearts can’t continue beating against the flood–that they’re ripped out, strewn on the rocks, and bleeding underfoot.Nov. 2015 223

But Your heart is breaking too, isn’t it, Lord? When we weep and cry out to You, and rail against the evil in the world that devastates us and kills the ones we love, You know how we feel, don’t You? You know because You were here once.

After You listened to Martha and Mary, You stood outside Lazarus’ tomb and wept.

You wept.

That’s our ray ofNov. 2015 104 hope.

You wept over our reality. You accepted the whole pain of it on the Cross. You said to Your disciples–all the ones then and all the ones now–“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Help us take courage today, Lord. Help us remember You standing outside that tomb looking at the wages of sin and weeping for us. Give our friends the courage of hope in You and Your finished work. Give us faith in things not seen.

We are creatures of dust. You’ve put it in our hearts to love and sacrifice for other creatures of dust, to find pleasure and beauty even in inanimate things that will all pass awayNov. 2015 216. Therefore, hide us in the shelter of Your wings, that we would find hope in You, despite what we see.

Please, Lord–only You can give life.

 

 

Getting Out of Broken Places

I tried to cry it all out the first day, Lord—the big decision, the pain of it hitting me harder than it ought, confused with other losses, making me feel small and broken and alone. I sat on the stairs in my barn boots and flannel shirt in the early morning stillness before the thermostat started the furnace. I didn’t even wake the dogs.August 2015 081

In the mirror I looked so like and so unlike myself.

Child woman, shivering.

I asked You why there’s this stabbing longing in my heart, this feeling there’s a person inside me who cannot get out, a woman there’s no room for? And You said, “Now we see in a mirror dimly; but then face to face.”

I repeated this to myself as the household wakened and the girls arrived–someday I’ll know why.

I wish now I’d gone right back to the Source to see what You were really saying in the dim of the stairwell. But I didn’t. Not then.

Instead, I berated myself for self-indulgence when there’s so much need in the world—families who don’t have stairs or boots or mirrors—families who would be grateful for just one sandwich to split up amongst themselves. This self-beating seemed deserved, but it wasn’t from You.Aug 2015 EOS 006

The second day I forgot to look for Your words again. I put on my big girl panties to get back to work. But self-talk and grinding away alone, all the while telling myself someday I’ll know why couldn’t lift me out of my brokenness.

So that day rolled over and squashed me, too. This wasn’t You, either.

On the third day, the sky hung gloomy, dark, and NOTHING—no rain or sun or wind or bird calls—just the feeling of waiting  so heavy over me. By then, I’d forgot all about seeing dimly in a mirror and understanding someday. I cried like I was falling, falling, and never going to fly again.

But I desperately wanted to be lifted up. So I did something I rarely do. And this was from You.

Though I was raised in a “don’t need nobody” home, I emailed a few folks about how I felt. Then I took the girls for a last-day-of-summer outing to the Children’s Museum where, away from the worry, we played, laughed, and wondered at Your amazing world.

When I checked my Aug 2015 EOS 040email later, people had sent love, encouragement, sympathy, empathy, sweet offers of help, and “ginourmous hugs.” Thank you to all of you. Though I felt embarrassed at sharing, you made me feel better. And this was God’s doing, too.

Then I searched the Bible for the mirror reference. You know what? It’s in the Love Chapter. 

I Corinthians 13 is about world-changing face-to-face love—one truthful confidence, one selfless kindness, one generous offer, one “ginormous hug” at a time. It’s about growing up to discern what lasts. It’s about the inclusive we instead of the self-sufficient me. It’s about how “Love never fails” even when we’re embarrassed.

Did you hear that? Love NEVER fails. That’s a 100% success rate.

And the promise isn’t about someday we’ll know the why of things–it’s about someday knowing the Who—this God who IS love, fully.Aug 2015 EOS 016

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 

(I Corinthians 13:12 NIV)

God already knows you and me fully because He created us. And if He made us, He also has made room for us. It may be we just have to learn to ask for help.

Someday we’ll see God face to face—our faces together with His. We’ll see Him in all His beauty, glory, and essence without vaporizing to particles. Like Job, we’ll realize our questions are profound as the color of toilet paper, our sorrows fleeting as grass.

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4,5)

Lord,  You know me. You made the squeezing pump of my hearAug 2015 EOS 062t and the function of my tiniest cells.  You know my secret longings and prayers. Help me with my brokenness. Forgive me when I try to overcome the hard things alone.

The Hen that was Born Again

old chicken house on our farm
old chicken house on our farm

I’m not terribly good at maintaining friendships.  In fact, I need to take this post to heart. You see, the pursuits I most enjoy are solitary ones–writing and art. But I know the value of friendship.

Friends are the ones we live, love, teach, laugh, cry, drink tea, make wedding bouquets, make funeral bouquets, and exercise with. I know I couldn’t have made it to today without the help of friends.

(Thank you, my treasured ones. Forgive me for being so careless about our friendship. You know who you are.)

I know when I’ve been a friend, too– when I’ve been there at a critical moment in someone else’s life.  And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

The times I most recognize the value of friendship are the times when I’ve let it slide, for whatever reason. So, by the grace of God, I can’t help but see the parallels in this story about a hen I’ll call  Hephzibah.

(Real farmers don’t name their hens.)

One hot August, our six surviving hens started dying off. At five years old they’d enjoyed a fat and mostly eggless dotage for two years, though we still saw the occasional double-yolkers or shell-less eggs that wobbled, membrane intact, like gelatin in straw.

(Real farmers would have turned unproductive hens into soup at three years old.)

I was sad when I found the first dead hen near the forge. When two corpses marred the pecking yard next day I looked the birds over anxiously to figure out why. Nothing.

I researched. I prayed. I cleaned food and water containers. I changed the straw. Two days passed. Three hens dug in the yard and fluffed themselves with dust. I breathed a sigh of relief.

It was short-lived.

chicken coop rules
chicken coop rules

On Day 6, two more hens lay sideways in the yard. Only Hephzibah remained. I observed Heppie closely for signs of impending demise.

She scratched in the dirt. She ate wild plums from the tree over the water trough. She roosted in the hen house at night. She watched two-foot Norway rats suck chicken feed like vacuums and multiply in the burrows that crisscrossed the yard.

But she didn’t die.

Slowly, however, she began to look about, running from the empty peeled-oak roosts to the empty nest boxes and back again. Like you and me, God made chickens social animals. They need their peeps.

But Heppie didn’t have any.

the neighbors' chicken house
the neighbors’ chicken house

She began to pluck her pinfeathers out, then her soft down. Bare patches studded her body. She stabbed herself raw. She lost weight until her skin hung, one size too big. The light went out of her eyes.

I had to do something.

I know–real farmers…blah, blah, blah.

I bought five new chicks. I locked Heppie out of the hen house. She was skinny, naked, and weak, but natural instinct–fight or flight– might lead her to kill the newcomers.

She knew something was up. Faint peeps escaped the edges of the tiny hen house door. Heppie stood at the top of the ramp for hours, listening. She began to nibble on layer pellets.

After a few weeks, I set a decorative concrete block at the top of the ramp and opened the door. The chicks could poke their heads out and Heppie could poke hers in. But neither could pass the block.

Heppie started eating in earnest.

rooster art by Anya Zarnecki
rooster art by Anya Zarnecki

Soon, her skin fit better. Funny little sticks sprang from it like baby porcupine quills. Heppie and the chicks held quizzical conversations through the concrete block–she in long, low tones and the chicks in loud peeps and tiny squawks.

The day came to release the young hens to the lush world of the hen yard–and Hephzibah. I loaded a scoop with chicken feed. Heppie followed me curiously.

I bent down and removed the block.

The hens blinked at the unfamiliar opening. Heppie blinked back. No one moved.  I sprinkled chicken feed on dirt. “He-e-y chick, chick, CHICK-eees!”With squawks and beatings of wings, six hens plunged down the ramp and into the food. Heppie had her peeps again.

Weeks later, I watched the hens under the plum tree. They clicked and clucked, scratched and bobbed.

But I couldn’t take my eyes off Heppie.

young hen
young hen

Plump, glossy, and gorgeous, she walked like a Queen, head swiveling in the midst of her subjects.  Her long red feathers gleamed like polished copper. Her eyes flashed bright and sassy.

The old biddy looked like a new hen.

Those chicks had brought Hephizibah back from the brink of poultry heaven. She lived four more glorious years.

She even laid a few eggs.

***********************************************************************

Well–I’m not planning to lay any eggs, but I look forward to connecting with my peeps again. Thanks for being here. I’m off to make a few calls, maybe write a snail mail or two. Blessings!