Tag Archives: teen-depression

By His Grace, To Be His Lenses

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” Ps. 19:1, 2, 411087717_10153205131874214_4981049671247812487_o

I’m a Psalm 19 woman–one of those for whom God makes truth palpably clear, a doubting Thomasina who must press my fingers in His handprints to believe.

And His handprints are everywhere. I remember the first shock–the first obvious evidence of this great and awesome God we cannot imagine Who bends down to eyeless worms to give us glimpses of His beauty and majesty.

I was in high school Biology, a staunch and self-righteous Catholic, dropped off at Mass weekly by embattled parents who agreed that children should attend church, though they August 2015 038themselves came only during truces, when they played Chinese checkers by night.

I remember following them across the parking lot at those times, eyeing the hand-holding hopefully, wondering how long it would last. But it was never long.  I became religious, but I didn’t yet know the saving power of grace and forgiveness. I didn’t know Jesus.

In high school Biology, I bent over the eye of a microscope, fiddling the little mirror into place until it should reflect enough light to illuminate whatever mystery hid in the elodea leaf on the glass.

At last, angled light penetrated the leaf, the lens magnified the mystery to giant-sized, and I gasped at the glory of God evident in the tiny cells.Sept 2015 004

There I saw chloroplasts– glowing green factories that turn light energy into sugar to feed every part of plant and tree. They bustled about like stained-glass nannies in the cry ward.

I remember the vision yet, though I never saw it again. It hooked me on the reality, omnipotence, and incomprehensibility of God–in awe that He allowed me to glimpse such things about Him.

For why should He show me?August 2015 233 In those teen years, I drank, I swore, I feared my mother, and was ashamed of my father. I practiced the sacraments, but my heart boiled with evil, like one of the white-washed sepulchric Pharisees Jesus condemned to their faces.

But He had mercy on me and showed me not only chloroplasts but what they meant.

Later, I saw His handprints in the births of our four children, though I nearly died with the first. I slipped along towards Him and He sent me back, so I might see His handprints again through the lenses of children and parenting.

In them He revealed how His fatherhood of me could inform my ignorant parenting of themAugust 2015 195

and how depression, self-loathing, and paralyzing fear had no power against love, laughter, and the light in children’s eyes when they presented me with tender words I didn’t deserve, written in childish scrawls on handmade Mother’s Day cards.

Through the lens of His word I learned that time doesn’t heal all wounds save by the glare of Holy Spirit truth, the shedding of tears, the embrace of thanksgiving, the blood of forgiveness, the balm of kindness, the steel of humility, and the ferocity of abiding love.

I see His handprints through the lens of the Perseids meteor shower, when Big Bang rocks crash through the atmosphere–red, green, and blue–and my blink of tiny dust bows to Him in the vastness, beauty, and testimony of His creation.

I see Him through the lens of rest in SabbathOct 2015 004 sheep fields, the cares of the week floating away with the tumble of clouds and the quiet certainty that just as no one could mistake the artist in my pottery, so I cannot mistake my Creator in the gifts of peace and changing sky.

And I want to be a lens–that others might see Jesus, too.

Maybe you’re a Psalm 19 believer, too? Do you see His handprints through the lens of His creation? Do you want to be His lens to others?Sept 2015 055

Lord, thank You for this amazing creation that speaks of Your majesty. By Your grace, teach us how to be Your lenses that we might reflect, magnify, and illuminate the mystery of You to others.

Apple of His Eye

I c11034920_10153188937269214_2723384077591697003_nolor cardboard tulips on the kitchen table, sunlight streaming through lace curtains, illuminating dirty windows. I make a mental note to clean them tonight. Too much daylight makes glass streak.

I color yellow on the tulip edges so they’ll gleam under the black watercolor as though lit from behind, like my friend Wendy’s fat lambs in the late sun, glowing with halos through their fleeces.

I feel joyfully alive as I color, though my hands cramp and I must rest them frequently. Even the pain reminds me of the splendor of this mortality, that God made nerves to signal pain and pleasure, hot and cold, rough and smooth.

I brush waxy crumbs away and listen to birdsong. As a child I loved the songs of the Bible–the Psalms. Their truth and hope cut through all my pretend–joy, anguish, outcry, acquiescence, and rest–He is God of the real.

A favorite line became a life raft during the worst of the teen years–“Keep me as the apple of Your eye.” (Psalm 17:8)

I didn’t understand the imagery then. But despite feeling worthless and hated by others, I felt special to God–the apple of His eye. I saw myself as a literal polished apple–beautiJune 2015 019fully mottled, shiny, pleasing to hold.

Only later did I read the little footnote that said “apple” meant “pupil.”

The pupil is a hole into the eye.The iris surrounding it is triggered by light striking the optic nerve, and expands or contracts to regulate light as needed.

So if we ask God to keep us as the pupil of His eye, we ask Him to guard our spirits, to regulate His holy light of love and truth that we might always be able to see His path, whether in brightness or darkness. This is an amazing prayer.

The iris widens in darkness, to gather light into the pupil for illumination. Lord, when my soul is dark, open the iris of my heart to gather in Your light. You know how much I need it.

I need Your light when pickle juice spills on clean dishes, when I lock keys, towels, life jackets, and picnic in the car just as we arrive at the lake. I need it for my sore foot at day’s end when the little one wants me to stand and hold her for Rock-A-Bye-Baby.

I need it when I throw out burned eggs because there were FIVE emergencies while I tried to cook them, and everyone is crying because they’re hungry. I need it when the little ones I love wear body braces and face serious surgeries.July 2015 014

I paint black watercolor on my tulips and the waxy color springs to life in relief.

In addition to gathering light, the iris also limits light to protect  the pupil. But some protection is up to us. If we look directly at the sun, its brightness can burn the rods and cones at the back of the eye to destroy our vision forever.

Some people wish for more light, for the light of all knowledge, like Adam and Eve. They want foreknowledge of their futures–poverty, riches, and the day of their deaths. But I don’t want to know. I don’t trust myself with that much light.

I fear I’d turn every thought inward towards how to serve and preserve myself, how to keep instead of how to lay down my life, and thereby miss the joy and pain and real of the present. I want to live all the way here.

I want to watch my granddaughter’s face as she tells me about her new song, her dance steps, how she made a fairy dust necklace for her baby sister who cried because it couldn’t really make her fly.July 2015 048 (2)

The sun shifts. I hang my painted tulips on the tree branch above the kitchen table with frogs, butterflies, burlap, and grosgrain ribbon. The kitchen lies in shadow. I marvel how my eyes adjust. The light has fallen to the other side of the house–perfect time to clean the kitchen window.

Father, clean the glass of my heart. Help me see clearly. Keep me as the apple of Your eye. Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.