The God Substitute – Temporary Infatuation

I remember the crowded coffee shop and the shoulder to shoulder line up.  I remember seeing her and an army of history marched through my head.  She was the black sheep in her family, but even black sheep deserve to fall in love.  She did and they were great together but a few weeks before her wedding her husband had an accident at work involving industrial chemicals.  She knew something was wrong but went ahead with hope and ended up marrying a stranger.

My eyes scanned the bobbing heads and animated faces who were already sitting down enjoying their morning java, when I saw him, my Father.  Even after all we’d been through my heart skipped a beat, it was the ever-present hope for change. I kept hoping one day I might see who really lives behind those blue eyes.  One day I might see laugh lines.  One day I might see a child’s faith commitment reborn, I might see a life surrendered to God.

I watched the megaphone bumble across the floor to his table.  Her voice was louder than the forty some other conversations going on.  Then I felt him, God’s presence,  The Holy Spirit stood right in front of me, leaned in and pressed his finger on the ear of my heart.  I listened and I knew more than coffee was brewing that day.  Trouble was just around the corner.

I got my coffee to go but walked over to my Dad’s table before leaving.  I waited for the perfect moment then leaned in and gave him a left arm hug.  He smiled and I left praying that God would give me the place and time and courage to give him the message I had just received, even if parents don’t like to get advice from their children.

Not long after, we did have that chat and I told him what I heard God tell me in the coffee shop.  Dad was no stranger to that kind of talk, because his Mother, my Grandmother, breathed that talk all the time.  She wasn’t perfect, I’m certainly not perfect, but if God gives you a message, you need to give it.

My Dad and Mom were separated, it was his idea, but something he kicked himself for every waking moment.  Actually, he probably fought those demons in his sleep too.  They loved each other but couldn’t live together at least not without a whole lot of divine intervention.  Here’s the thing, divine intervention doesn’t happen unless you ask for it, and pride doesn’t ask.  And even then, both parties have to want the same thing.  To  make matters worse, sometimes a life time isn’t long enough for a person to heal.  Sometimes you live apart and love from a distance.

The gal in the coffee shop had been separated for quite some time and by God’s good warning I could sense she was thinking my Dad could be her prince charming, a second chance at a future.  When my Dad finally heard what I was trying to tell him, he laughed.  “As if someone like her would be interested in an “old fart” like me” he chuckled.

One week later, the spiritual battle ended, just like that.  Not even a fist fight.  She moved in, in more ways than one, and any chance our father (or her for that matter), had at surrendering life over to God’s plan, was obliterated.  The hope of putting God first for just once, the hope for a personal transforming relationship with God – was substituted again for temporary infatuation.

If God is warning you about something today, take it seriously.  It is so easy to live in the “now”.  He wants us to live with an eternal perspective.  This life is over in a blink!  What might look promising today, could break your heart tomorrow.  What might look like a warm blanket for you, might be the loneliest move you make.

In loving memory of even the painful lessons, because with God’s help we can learn from the pain.




A Heart at Home Anywhere

So Friday morning came and I was up and out of bed to see our daughter off to the airport.  So proud of myself, organizing and starting breakfast.  The only thing was,  I forgot I started breakfast and went out to my workshop.  When I came back in the house it was full of smoke.  I felt like a total ditz.  Talk about having my mind on something else.  Anyway Julie forgave the smoke, and I decided I simply couldn’t ever try multi-tasking when it came to cooking, again.  That way she’ll have a home to come home to, when her DTS in Australia is over.

I’ve been thinking about her latest post in, about “feeling out-of-place”.  I was working on a paper for school yesterday and reading about how Moses felt out-of-place in Egypt and in Midian.  It wasn’t until God called him to lead the people out of Egypt that Moses felt like he was living on purpose.

In the last forty years of his life I suppose it could be said he never had a home.  I suppose his tent sufficed, but I believe Moses heart was always at home with God.

I was blown away to read about the death of Moses in Deuteronomy 34.  Verse seven tells us that his eyes were not weak and his strength was not gone when he died.  In other words, God decided to take him and Moses obeyed.  Don’t you find that amazing?  Doesn’t that make you want to have that kind of relationship with God?  Moses trusted him, Moses was in love with him and knew there was a bigger picture.

I suppose many don’t press in because they want the relationship but not the sacrifice.  That says a bunch about our culture.  We want the marriage but not the sacrifice.  We want children but not the sacrifice.  We want to be Christians but not sacrifice.  We want a church but not the sacrifice.  We want our house and our cars and our shopping but not real life.

Real life, real honest to goodness living is having a heart that is at home with God.

You press on Julie!  Press on Wes and Laura and Eric and Madison…..don’t settle until you’re living on purpose!

Nest Jumping

bird in nestWe asked our Pastor if he would pray for our youngest daughter in front of the congregation this past Sunday morning.  It is a practice we enjoy for anyone who is leaving the fold, for a mission.

Befittingly after the service, people who we’ve known for years came up to bid her goodbye and it meant so much to all of us.  One of our friends matter of factly stated that I looked too excited to see our daughter go.  It must have been my smile that threw her off.

I pondered her statement walking home from church.   I was trying to figure out if part of the reason we parents fall apart when our last child leaves the nest is because people expect us to.  There’s a lot of hype about how we are suppose to feel and react when it happens.

I asked God for some clarity.  How was I going to go through this transition?  Immediately I thought of the opposite end of the spectrum.  How did I feel when we brought our firstborn home?  Maybe I’m strange but as soon as I laid our new baby down in her crib I knelt on my knees and cried “what have we done Lord?”  All the mistakes I’d made as a teenager came flooding back through my mind.  If it hadn’t been for Christ’s forgiveness, they would have revisited in stabbing, living color, but they were just faded memories of someone I use to know.  Memories removed as far as east is from the west.  Regardless, how could even a” new creation” possibly do right by the precious little infant smiling up at me?

My mind went further back in time to when I set off in my little red Chevette for Tennessee where I planned to attend songwriting workshops in Nashville.  I was 21 at the time and all by myself.  How did I feel?  I was nervous to be driving across North America alone, but I was excited to be leaving everything I knew to focus on my new relationship with Jesus.

There’s something really special about jumping out of the nest when you know you’re jumping into Jesus’ arms.   From what we know of our daughter thus far, and the choices she has made we believe she’s leaving the nest to fan the flame of faith.

So it is count down to Friday, four and one half days ’till she jumps on a plane, and then another and another.  Four and one half days ’till she jumps out of the nest into Jesus’ arms and begins her own journey of faith.  We as parents shared our story, our faith with her for a time.  When she walks through the security gates at the airport – their story begins, Jesus and Julie.

Our daughter is planning to blog about her first prolonged trip away from home.  While she is away I plan to blog about how it feels to have an empty nest.  Together we’ll see how this new leg of the journey affects our whole family.

Polka Dots and Coffee Pots

A sign you might want to try and make, out of old license plates.
(from Marie’s Gift Shop at Lakeside Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, USA

Nothing like lounging in polka dots at a friend’s kitchen table, nursing a third or fourth cup of coffee before breakfast.  Off to his office for an updated tour; personal touches by partners in ministry, vignettes of sunshine on every wall, soul friends and memories.  Keyboard settings; dual, piano and strings, for a song share Saturday a.m.  Last stop in Brian’s Mom’s chair,  framed yellowed sheet music overhead, watching timely touches, CD‘s burned, labeled and bundled for final workshop.

Noodle house, chopsticks and conversation for lunch, then a nap – all three.

Dinner with Alissa, hugs wrapped in red plaid before taking a trip together to meet more friends at the Coeur d’Alene Lakeside Resort, recently renovated, Operation; Dockside Cafe to indulge in their famous desserts.  Knickered parking valets smiling in the rain, glamorous lighting entices you through transparent turn style doors, taupe and mountain blue sparkle, and then; “Marie’s”.  A massive fish gallery boasting exotic swimmers, makes the perfect lobby jewel, but Marie’s Boutique?  To die for!  My favorite fairy tale walk through ever from the light fixtures that bling above to the baskets, buckets, trays, and counters of endless crafters’ eye candy, home decor and personal attire (notice the heart warming sign above).

Wove our way through Dockside Cafe to find a window table where glimmers of night lights reflected on the lake outside.  Slowly savored each tasty morsel of an over-sized chocolate peanut butter sundae, the locals call; gooeys!  Burnt off hundreds of calories with the best exercise known to man – laughter!