Sunday, February 17, 2019

Production Value


Am I doing enough?

Gasping for checks to be placed in boxes,
Grasping for perceived results.
Frenetic production and idle detoxes,
Mirrored pendulum of praise and insults.
I am what I do.

The weight is eased to aggravation:
A dark kite tethered to my waist,
Not ceasing me from forward motion,
But evident slowing down of pace.
I am what I am.

The reins from soul to deeds are slacked,
Breakers ceased on seas within.
The Word saved us from self-attack,
Abundant life that springs from Him.
I AM: Whom I serve.

Is “doing” enough?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Burial

This season of the year we are drawn back into a connection with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  We talk of the agonizing torture and the weight of our sins.  And our souls gasp.  It could have been us; it should have been us.  But it was Him: our Groom, Savior, Master, and King.  We are convicted and saturated with grateful awe.  And after we are swept into the darkness of that day, we reflect on the explosively glorious act of air filling stale lungs.  A single heartbeat resurrects the rhythm in a cold chest, echoing the life of days past.  Eyelids flutter and the Creator made flesh made death a joke.  And we proclaim “He is risen,” “He has conquered,” “We are saved!”  We sing songs and raise hands to the One who proclaims victory over separation and decay.  Creation has a way back to the goodness of His intention. 

We hold hands in pews and pass the ham around the family table, for what is better than the created intention of family?  We say grace and thank the Father for the death and resurrection, forgetting the burial altogether.  We don’t want to gaze on that span bookended by tragedy and majesty.  During that time we look to the disciples and mirror their tear stained faces in our hearts.  We look all around at the mother, brothers, followers, betrayers, and skeptics.  But we keep our back to the tomb, that cave of death.

We fail to see that many of our community resonate most with the symbolism of the burial.  Cold stagnate air carries isolation so dark that even self isn’t recognized.  Layer upon layer of spices to cover the smell that hangs all around; anything to cover up the pervasiveness of Death.  Nothingness so rich that it is nearly tangible.  Stone edges preventing comfort on any side.  A prison of silence.

As a body, let us see the tomb.  Let us look upon it and see our Lord and our brother and our sister.  For those among us holding your breath for relief, know that in Christ the grave is finite.  Just as the Maker said to the oceans, “This far you may come and no farther,” so has He shackled the tomb to itself. 


And know that it is ok that you are there, our Messiah was too.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Last Letter

My Granddad was a beautiful human. The excerpts below are from a letter to family and friends that he knew would be his last. I can't say any of this better than he did. May the blessing of his existence extend to all who read. 

       "I am so grateful for Lou. She was pierced with goodness all the way through. Thanks, God, for all those years. Your mother was truly extraordinary in so many ways. I often have the wish to convey to her, even now, what she meant to me in all the years we had together. She somehow, it seems to me, represented all that is good in the human spirit. Lou and I have been so blessed with you kids. Without dwelling too much, each of you are better in so many ways than we would have dreamed; accomplishments, character, integrity, and the good things built into personality are so far ahead of what we would have expected for our kids, their mates, and our grandkids. We have been equally blessed with the mates you have chosen...so many accomplishments by each but being a good person is so evident in all. And absolutely great grandchildren...haven't given up on one. There is so much talent in all our grandkids I hope they don't come to expect too much of themselves, and to remember that failure is not lack of success because it is a learning experience.
       Couple of thoughts: First, how faith has so much to do with all of our lives and that of our kids and grandkids. I would recommend a personal daily reminder strongly. Religion is very simple, despite mankind's complications: (Organized religion is where complications come in.) Either there is a God or there is not. A designed universe and both secular and religious history records pretty firmly a God and a Jesus.
       Think God daily. Not just thank...think. He is. Thank Him too, but think Him. If you have a shaky or broken relationship mend it today; tomorrow may never come. Strengthen your marriage every day in some small or large way...EVERY day. Happiness comes most quickly and lasts longer for givers. Cars, dollars, furniture, and houses can bum, rust, and become of little real value. Relationships can bum also; Install fire fighting gear by planning for conflict and how to deal with it. Put out relationship fires while they are still just starting.
       It's true...you should not sweat the small stuff. There are more good people than bad by far. Remember the good, and forgive the bad! Take lots of pictures. Never give up. If tomorrow is too terrible to contemplate, don't! Think today. Don't work about failing or being wrong. If I counted all the times I was right and all the times wrong, I might not like the numbers. Fear of failure is no reason for not trying. Truly don't sweat the small stuff.
       Wipe off any tears...life has given us many things to enjoy: fun to goofup some things...remember the flipper dinger promotion...and BODAP; failures all. It's not failing or losing or winning that counts...it's the aftermath of what you do with life; handling failures or handling success, which may be the more difficult of the two. Life is like a golf course: some fairways wide and friendly, some narrow and trapped, but all navigable with the green the goal ahead like the I Peter 1:9 passage: "You are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your soul."
       I'll see you in another place, another time, another dimension...if things run sour healthwise to any of you just remember I'll ask the Lord to reserve a spot for you and we'll talk some more then. Loving deeply makes you deeply vulnerable. It's worth it. God bless you all.
       How blessed I am wonderful marriage, great offspring and grandchildren (and now great GC...) a terrific town and more good friends by far than I have ever deserved. And a blessed Lord a constant companion...'a refuge in distress' and an inspiration when befuddled."

-Bob McKune

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Great 31

            Recently my wonderful parents celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary.  I wasn’t able to make them the traditional anniversary dinner.  In lieu of beef stroganoff, I wish to offer this post as a sort of emotional beef stroganoff: savory but not too mushy. 

Thirty One Reasons my Parents are Awesome:
(Not all of these have to do with their marriage, but rather the family God has built through them)

·       1)   Dancing to weather channel music…and then googling it, buying the whole album on iTunes, and explaining the “cool groove” to me
·        2) They apologize with ease.
·        3) Puns, lots of puns…and vegetable jokes
·        4)They try new things and adopt unusual hobbies, jumping in with both feet 
·        5) “From scratch” takes on a whole new meaning after watching mom whip up a meal or hearing dad grind down wheat for pancakes
·         6)They pour affirmation on me, even when I disagree.
·         7)They get passports when I go out of the country for the “Just in Case.”
·         8)Advice, mostly solicited advice.
·         9) They are hard-working and well respected.  I’m never embarrassed or ashamed to claim them as my heritage.  Unless there is dancing in public parking lots.
·         10)Willingness to drop everything and come to me when I need it.  This is not just a figure of speech.  I’m talking about ‘serious, taking time off work, I’ll be there tomorrow’ kinds of stuff.
·        11) Dad defends mom, even when that is from me. 
·        12)They know the Bible better than most people I know.  They know it and they treasure it.
·        13) Prayer happens a lot: on the phone, in the car, walking out the door.
·        14)They are able to buy each other clothes and actually love said clothes.
·        15) Nobody gets sensitive about Christmas lists with exact amazon links.  They make it simple and still act surprised.
·         16)They taught me what serving others really looks like: inviting people into your home and into your life.
·         17)They bestow unlimited forgiveness on each other…and hopefully me.
·         18)They took the time to make childhood bedtimes fun with lullabies and guitar sing-a-longs.
·         19)I am learning more and more the burden of taking care of a human being, namely myself.  They provide for their children without complaint.  That is two humans.
·         20) Movie quotes.  Conversations are peppered with, “Some things in here don’t react well to bullets,” as well as countless other ‘classics.’
·         21)They are cup half full people.  When we (the kids) couldn’t come for Christmas Day, they spent it in the pediatric ward of the hospital to distribute presents.
·         22) Their hands are always open in generosity.
·         23) Family lessons about safety first have prepared me for tornados, house fires, kidnappers, earthquakes, bio-terrorism, landslides, etc.
·        24)  Emotions are shared openly and sentiment is never downplayed.
·         25) They bring me down to earth when I contemplate cutting off my electricity.
·         26) They give me valuable lessons about life and boys like, “You only get one first impression.”  I may not take them all to heart, but I’m still glad that they try.
·         27) Education was displayed to me as an opportunity and a blessing.  I was allowed to push myself, but never crushed under the pressure for good grades.
·         28) They look at all of my pictures when I get back from any trip…along with listening to countless stories.
·         29) Together they are obviously something greater than when they are apart.
·         30) They keep me humble.  “We pay your friends to hang out with you.”
·         31) They love God. They have embodied that love in their marriage and lives.


Mom and Dad, I’m pretty sure you are the only people that read this the whole way through.  Happy anniversary and I love you.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pedal to the Settle

Settle.  This word brings to mind many thoughts: of pilgrims colonizing a new land, of sediment compressing over time, of consigning oneself to the next best option, of progressing to a stage in life in which routine is normative.  None of those sound very appealing.

I’m the type of person that uses Pinterest to explore the world, not to peruse wedding dress necklines.
I’m the type of person that legitimately gets giddy in airports.

I was always up for the next adventure and I can remember a time in my life when I was downright phobic of 9-5 jobs.  (Thankfully, now, I work 7-4.)  The thought of staying in America made me feel trapped.  “Settling down” and “putting down roots” were far off notions.  But somewhere along the way, I got really tired of goodbyes.  I got tired of starting over every 6 months.  Getting to know people just enough to love them and then checking out seemed wrong.   

Now here I am…in America…two hours away from the town I grew up in.  It isn't very exotic.  Nine months seems like an eternity.  I’ve fought this settling thing, going as far as to treat my apartment as a place to camp out in rather than a home.  A nomad’s resting place.  I thought that this was what God wanted: Don’t get attached.  You will leave soon anyway.  Don’t get used to luxury. 

Recently I have been given the opportunity to move into a more permanent dwelling.  A place I can most accurately describe as a cottage.  Choosing to take advantage of this opportunity has been quite the struggle.  I have been confronted with some lies in my heart.  But I have learned that God wants me to invest.  If I go through and think about the different individuals that I have met since moving to this city, I can easily say, “That is worth my life.  That is worth the investment.”  No more camping out.  I am going to make this house a home.  I will invest in these people and this place.

I may someday leave this city.  But I am choosing to live this way:  If every day of my life is exactly the same as today, it is still a life that I am more than happy to live for God.  This life is worth it.  God has given me something great and I dare not insult his gift by living life anything less than abundantly.  Besides, if I do leave someday, I want it to be hard.  Really hard.  I want to have a life with so much love that saying goodbye is painful. 


Let the roots grow deep.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Longing to Return: A Time to Mourn

Today marks the 4 year anniversary of leaving a place very dear to me: Namwianga.  I am torn about how to feel because society says things like, "Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened."  Well that is all well and good, but I believe that there is a time for everything: "...a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance..."

So today I mourn for a time that I will never get back.  I mourn for children I will never hold again.  I mourn for friends that I will never see or hear from again on this earth.  I mourn for adventures that are over and for lessons that have been long learned now.  I mourn for the relationships that I had with my classmates that have dimmed over the span of time and distance.  I mourn as I read through my Zambian journal and remember the goodbyes that I wrote about:

"As I was walking away, she told me to wait and asked for a kiss.  I kissed her on the cheek and she didn't wipe it off.  There is no word to describe how much I love that 5 year old girl. She told me that she loved me too."

"I said, 'I love you.'  He said, 'I love you.'  Then I asked for kiss and he gave me one.  I have never been so happy to have the snotty face of a little boy pushed up against mine as I was in that moment."

"...we drove down that beautiful tree lined road to the Havens and my heart shattered.  I will never have this again."

But I do not mourn as those who have no hope.  I have the hope that just as Jesus promised, those who mourn will be comforted.  I have hope that I will have something better after this world, even if I will never have it again in this world.

This is a poem that I wrote just after I arrived back in the States.  I still long for this.

Return

I want to see the Jacarandas, Bright above the sand.
I want to walk a mile just to hold a tiny hand.
I want to sing and dance and talk
Where people understand.
I want to leave the task by task,
Return to that still land.

I long to feel connections and not minutes slipping past.
I long to comfort those in pain, not stare with eyes aghast.
I long to walk and pray and dwell
On things I know will last.
I long to be a hand of God,
Help the weak to hold Him fast.

But I’m not there, for I am here so distant from my heart.
I have to face the future, seeking what life can impart.
I want to remember everything,
With mem’ry I’ll not part.
I’ll use the past and clean the slate,
Give this place a fresh new start.

So, I’ll see the Jacaranda’s warmth in a smile so sweet, unplanned.
I’ll walk many more miles holding to a larger hand.
I’ll go and sing and dance and talk,
Help people understand.
As I wait, someday I know I will

Return to that still land.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Share the Well

Recently, I received some iTunes gift cards.  This is a precious thing because I do not buy music unless these are given to me.  I have to decide carefully which song or album to purchase.  “Is this just trendy?”  “Will I get tired of this in a week?”  “Does this uplift me in some way?” 

Upon reflection I remembered this album recommended to me by a friend several months ago.  It is one of the best musical investments I have made thus far.  This is Share the Well by Caedmon’s Call.  It is based on their time in India and I think a couple of these songs are about South America as well.  This is art.  This resonates with my soul. 

I highly recommend purchasing this album.  But if you want a taste first, below are the links to all of the songs that I could find.  Take an hour and listen, really listen.  I think it might just change you.

Intro

Share the Well

There’s Only One (Holy One)

Jenny Farza (Interlude)

Mother India

International Love Song

All I Need (I Did Not Catch Her Name)

Los Hermanos Countoff (Interlude)

Volcanoland

The Roses

Mirzapur Group (Interlude)

Bombay Rain

The Innocent’s Corner

Sarala

Wings of the Morning

Dalit’s Hymn

Punjabi Group
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSBng4BPe6M