Beauty in the Pause

The storm paused just long enough to take a picture

He knocked and came in. A weary smile and hello. 12 years of caring for his wife with a declining mind. I noticed that the snow had just begun to fall. The storm was coming. Softly and gently at first with memory slipping just like the falling snow when I glanced out the window. How innocent comes a storm sometimes.

We talked for a couple hours, mostly covering smatterings of the last 12 years interspersed with memorial preparations in the making. The snow outside had the makings of a storm coming and going. She whom we were remembering had thick slices of good times at first, very thin and meager slices of connection with her husband near the end. Every good time now deemed worthy of a memory token, beautiful and now treasured beyond measure

The storm was picking up speed but acting like an old car stuttering and grinding gears with a driver new to using a clutch. Her brain was like that, often disconnected with life, stuttering, charging and stranded in the next intersection. Oh the good times were really good, but shorter and shorter like camera shots, until all that was left at the end were a couple squeezes of the hand before hugging Jesus. He seemed at peace with much weight off his whole being but his sorrow brutal. A couple as “one” who Loved Jesus and each other fiercely, now an alone “one”

The storm was harsh as he left. “Drive safe” was my warning as he disappeared with his car into the storm. His storm has changed I thought. He is in the eye of the storm seeing the peace and beauty and reliving a life well lived. As soon as he left our drive our storm outside hit a hole in the clouds for a small while. I had seen the weather radar and the hole in the storm was predicted. The wind died and the lighting was an odd beauty not seen often. I stepped outside and snapped a couple of pictures, tokens for a memory. Beauty in the pause that tipped it’s hat to a life well lived here and received there.

His storm will start again when he is alone. he has a standard offer to call or drive over any time. Just come. It’s what Jesus does for all of us. Just come. Come in the storm or in the pause. Just come.

The storm quickly came again and would last into the middle of the night. I put on some layers, stepped out onto the deck and took a picture of the storm. a memory token of another kind. A token of his storm, my storm and yours. The token of the cross, a slain perfect lamb for a forever pause, forever beauty, forever connected to our creator after grinding gears in our storms here. Jesus says “Come, as you are, anytime”

“Just Come” Jesus

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

In memory of Kim. We are here for you Dennis

Gary

Wordless Son-rise Message

Have you ever walked out of the house and figured you went through a portal into wordless awe and wonder? I pass a slice of my morning experience on to you. If a lion roars, don’t worry, It’s Aslan.

May the Son rise in your soul, quicken your spirit and reflect the character of God into the dark.

Restore brightness to my eyes… Psalm 13:3

Gary

Focus

My dad was holding the ladder while a friend at the top was attempting to nail a spike joining two walls together. The man swung his hammer missing the big nail endlessly. Finally after several splinters flew from the beat up wood he looked down at my dad fairly embarrassed and said “I give up”. Dad chuckled a little as he said “I had a hammer like that once”.

I marvel often at how I so easily lose focus. I remember as a teen in a (just for fun) snowball fight with my girlfriend. I threw a snowball straight up in the air and while she tipped her head back and watched it I pasted her in the face (for any teens reading this, that’s a deal breaker for any long term relationship).

Today, it was cloudy and below freezing. Frost formed everywhere. A photographers dream or possibly nightmare playing with light and focus. I have often struggled to get my camera and various lenses to focus clearly where I wanted. Cameras do their own thing sometimes if you let them decide (autofocus). Some times the lens is just a smidge off. The photo looks nice as a broad stroke but it’s not truly in focus. You be the judge as I took a bunch of pictures. Truthfully, I’m getting better. Click for slide show as the whole picture may not be seen here.

Did you see the chickadee? I’m not sure how it can hold a piece of popcorn in his claws and grasp the branch at the same time. I tried to focus on his feet.

Focus, with a camera or in life is an intentional discipline. We just have to be aware of where our focus should be. One of my younger brothers was in an intramural basketball team in college. They had a “Prevent 100” defense, meaning their goal was to prevent the other team from scoring 100 points (true story). They accomplished this goal much to the dismay of some really good teams. To answer your question forming in your mind, no, I don’t think they won any games.

We were designed like a camera with fixed focus. If our focus is not on Jesus then nothing else in the big picture is really in focus. We focus on our circumstances to make them better. We focus on ourselves and it’s all about us. We focus on our family and then the kids move out and maybe follow the Lord (from my jaded youth director days…often not). Focus on our career and all we get is a career until it’s over. We were designed and commanded to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:2

When we get our focus properly on Jesus, it’s not very far down the road and we begin to see our neighbors through God’s eyes, and they need Jesus. We begin to grow weary of prayer meetings only praying for our friends and families aches, pains and life’s discomforts because people need Jesus. We intentionally begin to invest our time and resources toward areas helping people find and grow their relationship with Jesus. Perhaps they even go so far as to learn how to use a computer, find out how to navigate the internet and write a blog pushing people to fix their eyes on Jesus.

Gary

Garden Hose Readiness

Our trails turned white. It snows on the good and the bad! winter doesn’t care!

It’s still autumn. How dare winter pay a visit so early. It’s a bit like the bank assessing your property a few weeks early before they auction off your farm. It’s 25 degrees Fahrenheit today for a high and the garden hose hooked to the house is now ice (and a hundred other things now under snow). I’m not ready. Foul, I cry. “Ha”, says winter “I’m gonna win”, and it will. Maybe fall will make a comeback but winter will win, then spring, then summer, then autumn will get a turn again, then winter will wreck another garden hose.

Dare you to shake the tree!
Whoops, missed picking some apples.
The ground is still warm enough to melt roadways but the forecast isn’t friendly
I hear the raspberry’s cry “it’s still Autumn…Bad winter. Bad!”

I can almost hear Jesus saying “ready or not, here I come” Then it will be the season of the Lord’s final victory. It makes me wonder how many of life’s garden hoses (trivial and the urgent overshadowing the important) are still keeping me too busy. How many apples (neighbors) are neglected and lonely? How warm is my heart under this rough exterior to melt the cold storms of life?

I know, I know. I’m all over the place on symbolism and illustration but so was (is) the snow!! Sadly, I have a lot of putting away of our things to prepare for the oncoming snows and really cold weather. I know of two neighbors that are not able to put up firewood for the winter. I should be in shape here so I can be fruitful there. That is the real lesson I should be learning here. The need is real and very large out there and God’s issue with my un-readiness is way beyond the scope of a garden hose

Gary