Crossing The Wake (Part One)

She sent me an email and things have not really been the same since.

She stirred the heart up. And the mind joined in. And then the nudges came and the soft tender birthing of words started to form, like a small green tomato appearing on the vine. I held a short vigil over the inspiration and waited.

Waited for it to be red and ripe and juicy.

And then decided that the perfect combination of the thoughts and musings just may not make it on paper.

And that the fuzzy outline and facts may not take shape into an eloquent and thoughtful blog post from me. But that maybe just breathing in Jesus and breathing out fear and taking a first step was really all I was called to do. All we really can ever do.

The subject is a paradox because it is big and looming over me but it is really quite manageable too. And gnawing and chewing on it for days may have been fear of not getting it just right.

But God…. leaning into Him for courage and trusting Him for guidance, is all I need. All I will ever really need. But I want to be a good steward of this passion for writing. And I do want to make something beautiful with words. So worry replaces Trust and fear replaces Bravery.

I have tried to go back and find where I read or heard the notion of breathing out fear and breathing in Jesus because I love the feeling of doing just that. Letting go of fear and breathing in the life-giving breath of Jesus.I needed His breath of courage and His help kicking fear under the bus on Sunday. I was fearful  about speaking and reading in public in church. But God allowed my eyes to fall on these words somewhere and they spoke to my soul. And they speak to my soul and infuse courage into my spirit.

So, she sent me an email and things have not really been the same since. And in it she wrote:
“Hoping you might consider writing a poem about “crossing the wake.” I thought about this often this summer. What I mean is having the courage to go in a new direction or face a problem. It actually refers to crossing the wake when water skiing…..It’s easy to stay behind the boat in the safe zone but what about crossing the wake and seeing what happens…..Scary at times but exhiliarating.”

So I told The Patient One, to whom I have been married for almost, almost a quarter of a century and he is a he. So he googled what happens when one crosses the wake. Oh the facts. And the descriptions. And the technical descriptions. I wanted art and feelings to pour out of my fingers as a by-product of reading this email. He suggested I know what REALLY happens when one actually “crosses the wake.” I love him and know to listen to him.

So I stalled out and couldn’t press begin, much less publish and the words didn’t seem to come. And how ironic. How ironic indeed. I stayed behind the wake in the safe zone of inaction where the waters were calm instead of heading out across to the exhilaration of His inspiration. Staying out of the beautiful blue waters of Trust.

So this is the part where I tell you I want to explore this idea with you all. The idea of going across the wake, crossing into the new places which contain challenge and exhilaration. Getting out of the safe zone where the water is smooth as silk.

Because I do really like green tomatoes and sometimes waiting and waiting on them to ripen is only one choice.

I am excited to have partnered with Compassion International as a blogger. It was time to step off the curb and do something for children in poverty. My heart had been broken after reading a recent blog about a friend‘s two Compassion children she sponsors.

So I am privileged to start a journey blogging once or twice a month when Compassion sends me an assignment. I am so excited to learn along with you about these children who need our love and prayers. And I am honored and privileged to advocate for children in poverty.

Please come along with me tomorrow  as I  continue to explore the idea of “crossing the wake.” I will share with you what my husband, The Patient One, encouraged me to learn of this concept. And I will pour myself into exploring more of the art of crossing into the challenging  places in life.

In pursuit of Him, because of Him, and with Him. Not alone, breathing out fear. Going into the bumpy parts and places. Will you come back tomorrow? That would be lovely.

And today I am turning toward a place of gratitude and counting gifts with Ann at A Holy Experience dot com. So much to be grateful for.

* Good news from a school regarding a child. An answered prayer.

*An email from Compassion in my in box and the joy of the new journey.

*For feeling more than okay about submitting my blog for consideration to go on a trip to Peru with Compassion. Feeling brave and leaning into God’s perfect will for the details, for a no, a yes, or a later from the request.

*Special nights with The Patient One watching the Olympics. Just simply being together. Two happy teenagers with lots of friends and nights being away from home and out of school for summer.

*Beautiful words of a Methodist preacher at a funeral on Sunday. Life affirming and Hope offering words from the pulpit.

*Watching my oldest grow into a man and seeing his soft compassionate heart in action.

*For kind words and comments in the in-box here and friends all over this bloggy world.

*For relationships and friendships with other bloggers who encourage and support in love.

*For two extremely kind emails I received that filled me up to over-flowing with their love and support. A blessing that they took the time to write.

*For a little girl in Peru whom I am sponsoring and what I will learn about love from her. Looking forward to corresponding with her and grateful that God brought us together.

Linking up with Ann, Duane, and Jennifer today and/or tomorrow.

Thanksgiving In July

They move from event to event, stoic, chin-up with game faces squarely on.

Determined, fierce-competitors, steely-glass eyes starring the moment directly in the face without blinking. Unflinching. Taking on the challenges with grace.Brave. Unwavering. Strong. And appearing to all the world as though they have no fear.

Mighty warriors on the world stage. Grace on display in diminuative packages. And they amaze.

I watch these young Olympians strong-jawed and graceful, gymnasts who take my breath away with their poise, beauty,and skill packed in lovely small packages of pure muscle.

They are like marathon runners pacing their emotion. Pacing the celebration and victorious grins and all-out over-joyed thanksgiving for their wins, the milestones.

Because until they are finished, they must pack their bags and unwrap their wrist-wrappings and move to the next big event.

But I am not an Olympic gymnast. Very far from it. But sometimes if I am not careful I will move fists clenched and jaw tight from one event to another without stopping to rest in moments of thanksgiving and praise for God’s goodness.

And I have seen God’s goodness in many areas of my life. So I have to stop. And be still for long moments of the heart. To let myself catch up with my living. To let the soul soak in the worth savoring. Because I have seen break-through’s and they are worthy of noting with praising lips.

They are worthy of big Alleluias and Hallelujahs back to the Giver. They deserve a return of praise. They require a thank you note of the heart.

If I am not careful I will race ahead without engaging my heart and soul in a long grateful embrace. The moment worth the long savor risks being passed over. The answered prayer of the heart and lips risks going by without an outpouring of gratitude.

I will rush ahead of myself and God into the forward moving moments of life. Without rightful praise. Without rightful thanksgiving. Without giving the breakthrough its long celebration of being born into my life. I risk being stalled out and stuck in a place of forward moving living which races into the next without pausing and looking long on the beautiful miraculous milestones of God gifts of the now.

The now is so deserving. The right this minute is so worthy of marking and noting. And of celebrating.

I see these as the happy middles. No longer wanting to desire only the happy endings in life, but rather finding joy in the happy middle moments. The good stuff on the way. The stumble upon small things which are truly grand. Like the small Olympic gymnasts we pack a pint sized punch, these little life-moments are grander and more glorious than we often give them credit for. They are huge if we but stop and marvel.

Just because its good. And just because The Giver of Good Gifts, a holy God, has given with and in Love.

If I miss the opportunity to walk into His presence with praise, I miss a holy moment of intimacy with God. And we were made by Him to praise Him. The praiseworthy moments then, are just what we were created for.

And some just seem due a longer pause, a wider smile, and an even more joyful heart. I don’t know why they seem to stand out, accept that when you journey with Him and cry out to Him, and pray to Him, there are moments which feel so glorious. Maybe its the ones we thought we’d never live to see. Or maybe its the ones that come after long periods of drought or what feels like extra-long waiting. Maybe its the ones which look so transformative as to have God’s mark, His handiwork so beautifully displayed that we are in awe. Of His Goodness. And His Love. Maybe it’s the ones that have a bit of the prodigal son peppered in the narrative.

That God in His mercy works beautiful gifts into  every day is worth an outpouring of gratitude every day. But sometimes it feels hand-stamped,hand-delivered right to the door of our hearts. Because it is.

It always is when it comes from God. And thanks be to Him, the Giver of Good Gifts.

Counting gifts today. And it truly feels like Thanksgiving in July. And grateful to Ann and her book 1000 Gifts for helping point me in a grateful direction of the heart.

*a beautiful worship service yesterday with glorious music and a very very funny guest preacher. Joy in the laughter echoing all through the sanctuary.

*a transformation in a relationship. Restoration, love, and tenderness.

*a moment to mark and celebrate a moment with a mother in church which involved seeing great things in the lives of our sons.Seeing her beautiful tears of joy at God’s hand in our lives. A gift.

*Seeing my man/child in his new home loving His job and seeing glimpses into his future with his career. Feeling God’s hand of protection and love on his life.

*Hearing my middle son say how much he enjoyed our family day together, after not wanting to participate. Hearing him proclaim the joy in the day. Amazing. Grace. A mother’s heart hears how very much we are wired to be in relationship.

* Four of the five riding back from Charleston and my daughter looking out at the marsh and marking the beauty. Then, passing the river and marking the beauty. Her words of longing to be on the beautiful water. Seeing her mark beauty.

* Hearing my son sing in church.

*watching the Olympics with my family

*Mother-daughter time of fellowship with friends laughing and savoring and spending hours, the four, for a celebration of birthdays. It is good. Friendship.

*Finally telling my husband how very badly my heart desires a literal white-picket fence, and having him sweetly receive, and try to see where and how he can provide my silly heart’s desire for one.

*A loving text message filled with gratitude from someone in my life, early this morning. A welcomed-Monday morning sight for these eyes.

*Seeing the joy in a woman’s heart upon receiving home-communion yesterday. Seeing  the power in breaking the communion wafer for someone for the first time. The beauty. The holy of the moment. Grateful for the opportunity to serve. Seeing her touched by the love of Jesus.

Writing in community today with Ann, who is helping me develop a heart of gratitude. And I am joining with Michelle at Graceful today.

This I Will Always Remember

I want to start a list of all these things. The things I will remember, always.

I want to entitle it something simple like, “Things I Will Always Remember.”

I want so desperately to  go back and fill the pages with lovely memories of the cherished past. And to collect them in one leather bound place with gold embossed lettering.

Things I will always remember.

And I wonder if I have the discipline to keep filling the pages as I live forward. To fill the white space up with lines , phrases and photographs of these times. The ones emblazened boldly on my heart. And in my memory. In the crevices of my story. In the cracks of my life.

I know I can start today by and in His Grace. I can begin  a list of these things I will
always remember.

These moments that dance and sing and  take our breath away.

The ones that fill us up so we can pour back out. Those that breathe life into us so we can breathe life into others.

Those that restore and rebuild.

That define us and mark us with beauty.

The ones which we record in technicolor in our memory to pull out on the black and white days, the grey ones too. The ones where we can’t see the grace. The days when we get stuck  and can’t remember the beautiful we promised we’d always remember. We swore we’d never forget.

I know that by His grace I hiked a mountain hemmed in by ones I love. With ones who love me back with a deep unfailing love.

 I hiked Lookout Mountain with my 74 year old father  and my 11 year old niece. And Shadow came too. The rescued dog. The furry family member who is his name to my father and mother.

I look back in my mind’s eye over the pictures and over the moments on the trail and I see so clearly now. How the walking up is life. How the hiking along side one another  is life. How the journey is what we do daily. How we are given the opportunity to live well in community. In family. In relationship.

How God tethers us to others to teach and build up. To strength us. To grow us. To challenge us.

We can choose to do this  daily. In love.

We can choose to get up and go out to seek the relationship challenges.

We can choose to speak a word of encouragement and be encouraged by others who are walking right beside us. We can be life givers and hope builders. We shared one bottle of water between the four of us, and it was just enough. Under the shade of the green canopy,  a sip here and there was all we needed.

Just being with was gift.

Just the presence of the others blessed.

I am grateful that these two spoke encouragement to me and that they undergirded me and accompanied  me in on this hike.

It wasn’t easy, the trek up. But it was important.

It was vital for seeing life this one particular way. It gave clarity. I see with  a lense focused on journeying  in community and in love. The lense is  angled and tilted and pointed to perfectly see things this way. On this trail.

To see this life and its relationships.

Again. Anew.

How grace extended to one another on the huffing and puffing parts brings joy to the journey.

How stopping and resting and extending hope, breathing life into each other’s weary souls, its what makes the journey joyful.

I will always remember my father’s cheerful spirit on the trail. His strength and stamina and joyful spirit pushing us up and on.

I will never forget extending hands out, holding on for the hard rocky part. I will remember forever my heart beating hard at the top as we took in the views. Resting after the tiresome parts to savor. To stand in awe of the God-beauty and savor what we had come to soak in at the mountain top.

My book will add this memory to its pages. The book written for now in my mind with gold embossed lettering on the spine.

This I will always remember.

And counting gifts with Ann today too. These gifts I will always remember. I am grateful to have these things in my life, to count, to savor, and to always remember:

*a week of getting to know my niece, her heart, her humor, her sweet sweet spirit

*for all the things I learned from an eleven year old which I could never learn from a book

*for that split second moment when I embraced my husband after a long absence and how the spark and beauty of the moment lasted for hours in my heart

*for the sound of running water over rocks outside my bedroom window for days and days of endless joy

*for cool nights and cool mornings and lots and lots of green canopies

*for an endless supply of inspiration for my photography, thank you Lord for your God-beauty, your creation

*for fresh blackberries and one summer cobbler

*for an “A” in chemistry for a hardworking child

*for a very social monarch butterfly which let me take what felt like a million pictures of him (cannot wait to share the picture here)

*for a daughter who loves the mountains and how late night trips to the Blue Cone for ice cream is her idea of summer nighttime fun.

When The Past, The Present and The Future Collide

It is all right there. In one place at one time.

We go there.

To 1908 and 1944 in old photographs, sepia with pink, black and white, more sepia.

And read the beautiful cursive notes, unlike today’s. Marked by an unknown family member. Written in connective lettering now worn, now requiring translation. Unknown penmanship, but a message that is familiar. Words about this place.

Room by room scribblings of her thoughts remark on ownership, “my room.” A photograph tells of pride of place and of the outer beauty, rhododendron are a symbol of early summer.

They are the great equalizer between generations. A flower. A tree. A beacon. A landmark pointing to time and place.

The past, the present, and the future are on a collision course right here, right now. And I stand in the middle of the bitter sweet swirling storm of the three sources of power.

We read the written and attempt to decipher the unwritten. The author who penned the copious thoughtful notes. The photographs record sweet detail of the day.

And later we go to shop in town. The questions that the mind poses when memory blurs the lines. And questions repeat and stories are retold.

And she forgets the recent but remembers the past. And the neighbor’s name too.

I walk with my camera to record the present that looks amazingly like the past. The pictures we have reviewed over the breakfast table for the first half of the century. She too took photographs of the rhododendron and of the house.

My camera and my eye are drawn to similar beauty. Similar landmarks of this place.

And the spring which bears my name carries cool water from the earth delivering it out and down to cool generation after generation, hot from the summer treks up the mountain she calls home.

They come with jugs from far away. I know because she tells me time and time again. The memory, the short term one, is struggling so.

These defining moments of age and disease, they may define me. And I prepare in my heart for this.

Just as generations have shared the spring, the house, and the rhododendron, I may share in this inability over time to remember the beauty and the detail. And the words and phrases.

But today….

Today I photograph. And I load up with as much good and beauty as I can.

I dig deep for patience to hear the repetition of the familiar of story over and over and over again.

But isn’t that what we do with those stories and memories we love.

We tell them over to generation after generation.

And what do we do with those things that may come our way from past generations. And when generations before had memory loss in life so you may too. But you just don’t know. But you are certain that He loves you so and He has a plan.

And that anything that comes your way, any pieces and parts of life that start to tear and break away from the current normal –you can face and you can bear. You will meet and face it all head on. Forgetting the neighbors name and the rest. And you will be brave, in Him. And you will borrow Hope from Him.

Because of His Grace and His Love and His Mercy, it all becomes more than OK. It becomes, we can do this melange of life, this mix of past and present and future together.

We can dance through and around and above all that comes our way in the arms of The One Who Made Me.

And like the spring which flows from the rocks which bears my name from generation to generation, always flowing fresh and life-giving, so He pours out and into us when all collides and His Hope springs eternal.

And the future, mixed with the past, mixed with the present is all glorious because of Him.

Simply counting gifts with Ann at A Holy Experience dot com.

Gifts for the counting…
*This mountain home built by my family in 1908
*Time with my daughter and her “old” friend…hearing them laugh and giggle on the long drive up. Learning from them how to laugh at the simple things.
*Father’s day with my father
*Time with my mother talking about the past and reviewing old family photographs. A joy. A treasure
*Writing a bucket list for our time in the Blue Ridge Mountains so that we make memories and savor our time here.
*Hearing a stream flowing constantly outside of my bedroom window here. One of my favorite things in all the world is a stream flowing and the sound it makes bumping over the rocks.
*The rain on the roof last night and cool mountain air.
*Plans to pick wild raspberries with The Patient One and go to Mount Mitchell this weekend
*8 lab puppies who are growing and who all have good homes.
*Time with my man/child just enjoying each other and doing projects around the house. More and more it is all about the simple.