Ponderings.

I take great joy in observing life. I spend a lot of time pondering my observations. So, one day I thought I would write them down. These are my ponderings. -dana

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hope.

As I write, there are two hours left of Easter Day.  Family has come and gone, the house is quiet, and I find myself considering what it means to live "in hope," which is much different than to live "hoping for."   It took losing it--hope--for me to understand the distinction.

It's been almost a decade now, but when I think of that dark season my pulse quickens and I can almost feel the panic rising again.  Almost.

I wrote a little book about it then, but shared it with only a handful of people.  I was too prideful to admit to most that for a time, I was a mess.  I didn't have it all together.  I looked away from God because I thought he'd looked away from me.  Yes, I did.

But today is Easter--a very good day, I think, to share a personal storybook of the hope that I once lost and the story of how God gently handed it back to me.



























































It isn't easy for me read this little book again.  It makes me sad to remember who I was for a 
time--a person with such small faith. I shudder 
at the possibility that a future circumstance might take me there again, though I believe myself to be stronger in my faith now.  As I sit here on Easter night, I am not without questions and concerns and disappointments.   But mostly, I'm better at laying them down, trusting that God doesn't leave us treading water in the middle of our sea of desperation. 

I know this to be true.

Rather, he urges us to live "in hope" with him.  To walk in and out of storms fearlessly.  I'm grateful that he didn't let me leave him. 

 He stayed with me.

He sought me out.  He wouldn't quit following me and urging me to live in hope.

And after some time, I did.  That is where I landed.  There is rest here...where all things, even the ones that hurt, are made new again.

And so it is well with my soul and I can rejoice.


Happy, blessed Easter.







Friday, December 2, 2016

Fifty-Six Years.

For thirty-four of his birthdays, I have been married to my guy, with today being the most recent one.  

I always feel kind of sorry for December birthday holders because they tend to get lost in the shuffle.  Todd's birthday hits every year right on the tails of Thanksgiving which is just about the time I'm gearing up for the fun of Christmas decorating.  Of course that doesn't happen without his help.  Okay, it could, but why should it? Still, it's his birthday.

Wait, I tell myself.  Give the old fellow a break.  It's just one day, I reiterate to myself.

For all these thirty-four years, he just rolls with it.  

The late birthday cards.

The trying to "work in" a family celebration around everyone's holiday schedules.

The late-night phone calls from dear ones who almost forgot.

The next-day phone calls from dear ones who did forget.

'Tis the season.  Such is the life of one born in December.  On a platter of holiday favorites like succulent roasted turkey and honey-glazed ham, a December birthday person must feel kind of like a piece of bologna. 

To all you December people, I write on behalf of the rest of us.

We're sorry.

You are good.  You are kind.  You are important. 

Seriously.

A few days ago, I woke up to an empty house and a hot pot of coffee waiting for me.  Todd had left early for work that day, and of course because of the whole "He-brews" thing which he's passionate about, he made the coffee before he left.

In the fridge was my cup, with my perfectly measured out, weight-watchers approved amount of cream.  I retrieved it, filled it with coffee and headed to the chair to sit down with no real thanksgiving for this man who cares for me so well in all the little ways.  Sometimes I can be such a "taker". 

Take, take, take.

That said, though, without us "takers" what would the "givers" do?  I'm just doing my part to keep it all spinning, you know? Keeping the balance of things. 

Anyway.  On that particular morning, God wanted me to see something. Something that has been so present and consistent in most all the years of our marriage that I've taken to overlooking it. Mostly I just dust around it.

There on the coffee table. Next to books with the kids' wedding pictures and a bowl of driftwood from a recent trip.  His old worn bible and his reading glasses. 

On December 2, 1960, my husband entered this life.  Though I don't pretend to understand how matters of the heart work, one day this December birthday boy thought we could make a go of it, I agreed, and so we did. And so we have.

I think he's always taken better care of me than I have taken care of him. Because I'm a taker.  Remember?

This man has consistently cared for me and our kids in the very best way. No matter the circumstance, he has never failed to point us to God.  Never once that I can think of.  Surely to goodness you know (or if you don't I will tell you)--he. isn't. perfect.  

Oh let me count the ways!


But isn't that the point of Christ?  He runs to the rescue of imperfect people. And those imperfect people, if they will become transparent for a bit, can say "Look there!  Can't you see it, man?  There is hope.  And love.  Even for the likes of me!"  

Nothing has pointed me to Christ more in my life than seeing my imperfect husband on his knees in a dark room pleading to God. Nothing.

We are weak, people.  We are imperfect and broken in ways we can't even see. 

I wonder how many times Todd has looked at me and said "just trust". Too many times to count. I wonder how many times he's told our kids the same.  Those words, coming from him, have weight I tell you. Rolled into those words is a life of firsthand experiences in the cycle of brokenness that demanded trust that culminated in seeing God's faithfulness.  Over and over again. I know there have been times when he's pointed me to God's word on a subject and I've turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. Pride, I guess.

Still, all the while, the bible and the glasses were there. Always a constant in my life with him.

On that morning a few days ago I saw them and they meant something to me. They reminded me of my man's constant love for me when I am unloveable. They reminded me of his constant love for our kids. For our friends. And most of all they reminded me of his unmoving devotion to God. 

Today I celebrate the most selfless joy-filled giver I know.  Today I'm remembering all the ways his life is a gift to me. 

Happy Birthday Todd.

Enjoy it!  Because tomorrow? We're decking the halls!

And one more thing.

Today, "I" brewed. I mean, with it being his birthday and all.




Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, "You owe me".  Look what happens with a love like that.  It lights the whole sky.  -Hafiz


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Layered People

We are all layered people. 

Layered, complex, beautifully afflicted people.

We weren't born that way though—with layers.  We were born naked and innocent and the closest to God’s heart that we would ever be in our lives. 

Immediately the layering began.  We were a daughter or a son.  We had ethnicity. We had a place in a family—a certain position in the pecking order.  Sometimes that family was typical.  Sometimes that family was atypical.  Sometimes the lines between the two seemed skewed because atypical could seem typical if that’s all we ever knew. Sometimes we were loved and adored. Sometimes we were born into a life of the sweetest affection and sometimes we weren't.   Sometimes we were abandoned and sometimes we were found again. Sometimes we were lost forever. Sometimes we were mistreated.  Neglected.  Ignored. We accumulated layer after layer as we assumed our place in the family.  Mostly we didn’t even know it was happening.

So we grew and we layered as if we were preparing for some unforeseen cold. Sometimes we were the golden child and sometimes we couldn't do anything right.  We had peers and sometimes we had friends.  Or we didn’t.  We had acne or we had clear skin.  Sometimes we were bullied because we were chubby.  We had boyfriends and girlfriends, or we didn’t.  We got embarrassed.  We got humiliated.  We got in trouble and sometimes we got rewarded.  We were homecoming queens,  athletes and band kids.  We drank alcohol or we didn’t.  We did drugs or we didn’t.  We slept around or we didn’t. We all got a reputation of some sort.  We were “goodie two-shoes” or we were the “bad kid”.  Or just the kid in the middle of two extremes. 

More layers. 

We graduated high school.  We went to college or we didn’t.  We worked in a high-paying job, a decent job or a minimum wage one.  Or no job at all. We earned prestige with our job title or we didn’t.  Sometimes we were embarrassed by the job we did, but we still did it.  Sometimes we made a load of cash.  Sometimes we required government assistance for a bit.  Sometimes we lived off of government assistance for our whole life.  Sometimes we worked our tails off, and sometimes we were on the lazy side. Sometimes we were happy with our choices.  Sometimes we were unhappy with our choices.  And sometimes we were angry about how life  turned out.  Sometimes we did something about it.  Sometimes we didn’t know what to do about it, so we just stayed there forever.  People we love died.  Or left us in other ways.  Some of us had success followed by failure followed by success.  It was a repeating cycle.  Some of us wanted to be noticed.  Some of us wanted to fade into the background.  Some of us gave everything for others, some of us couldn’t see beyond ourselves.  Some of us learned to lie and some of us wouldn’t consider it.

Layers.

Some of us married.  Some had happy marriages and some had abusive marriages.  Some had just “meh” marriages.  Some eventually divorced.  Some never married at all—some out of choice and some because time ran out.  Some of us never had kids because we physically couldn’t or because we didn't want them.  But some had babies and became parents, in which case a whole other cycle of fully naked to fully layered started again.

We are all layered people--layered with good stuff and bad stuff that have formed who we are and how we act.  

You and I. 

Some of our layers are lovely and colored beautiful.  Others are ugly with a noticeable stench.

And though we may differ in many ways—even in most ways—in some ways we are the same. Every single man or woman shares some common thing with the next one.  On some level we are the same.   Exactly the same.  And it’s because of that place—that place of “likeness”, that I can show you grace.  If I can find even a single thing we have in common, my heart can become—at least in that space and in that instance—soft toward you.  

If in your journey you are like me, you might have crossed paths with God.  And maybe like me, you have surrendered your life to him.  If so, you know what you are called to.  You can't pretend you don't know.  

You know.  

You know that we are called to love not only the lovable.  We are called to love the unlovable.  All the time.  We don't have to agree.  We just have to love.  It can only happen by extending grace when everything in us says it's crazy to do so.  When everything in us tells us all the reasons we should not.

I started thinking about this last week when I came face to face with a man who used to be a trusted family friend.  Our families broke bread together often, and all the while he was deceitful and evil and a destroyer of innocence toward his own.  He was sick.  When his sickness came to light, I swore I would never have another interaction with him.  Ever.  Even when he came back into my world and I had to pass him on the road or see him from a distance.  He sickened me.  In my heart, though, I knew one day God would make me look at this man again and deal with my disdain for him.  And he did.

When the day came, it was at his workplace.  I didn’t see it coming.  In awkwardness, I ask for the information I needed and tried to make a quick exit.  As I turned my back to leave I heard him speak my name.

Though I wanted to pretend I never heard it and keep going, I couldn’t do it.  I couldn't do it.  So I turned toward him.

I was silent, but he spoke.  He reminded me of a time 15 years ago when I had given him a cd to minister to him. It was a time when I mistakenly believed he was the victim, and not the victimizer. He let me believe it then.  He deceived me and my family and everyone he knew.  But in that face-to-face moment a few days ago, his eyes welled with tears as he told me that the music continued to help him.  He told me he still listens to it daily. He told me that he just wanted me to know that.  This time he wasn’t deceiving me.  He knew I knew everything—the whole sordid story.  His body is broken and sick now, but you know what I suddenly saw in that moment?   I saw the tender layer of him that was drenched and overcome with regret, loss and sadness.  Because I’m acquainted with that layer in myself, I saw him clear of all the other junk.  And in that moment I found “likeness” with him and I was unable to withhold even a morsel of grace from him.  And I knew it was finally over.

“Thank you for telling me,” I said.  I called him by his name—the same name I swore I'd never utter again.  And then I left with peace.

Only grace would allow for that.

Friends.  It is time for grace.

In these ugly times of political unrest and chaos, maybe it wouldn’t hurt us to remember this.   That buried inside those imperfect leader-wannabe people who spew poison at each other there are some layers that look just like yours and mine.  Humbling, isn't it?

Buried inside people who will vote for the “other side” in this election, there is at least one layer in them that is like you.  And that is an important space, for it is where you will understand them for just a bit.  A single moment of clarity is enough.   

It is enough.  

When you see the “likeness”, you will feel a tenderness that will replace any hatred.  And you will find your only choice is to show some grace.  


Lord have mercy on us all if we forget the necessity of grace in this world--the beauty of giving away something that isn't deserved and doesn't make sense simply because we can.

grace extended.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sitting on the edge of my rocking chair.

I'm antsy today.

There's change in the air.  Maybe you haven't noticed, but the world is barely spinning at all as if it's holding its breath with me.  I'm giddy with excitement.  

Today I am "this", but any moment now I will be "something else"--something I've never been before.  I am right smack dab in the middle of becoming.

Becoming a grandmother.  

As I write, I'm not there yet, but with every stroke of the key I become closer to the owning the title. 

At this very moment and an ocean away, my boy and the one he loves more than any other human walking this earth are about to have a baby.  We don't know if it's the boy kind or the girl kind.  We don't know the name. I'll tell you, though, the mystery lends itself to being a most wonderful surprise.  

With this birth, my world will be immediately altered and in a state that it wasn't only a second before. My tribe will grow. This sweet little one who has been forever unknown to me will be known to me for the rest of my life.  

His or her name will be on my tongue.  The sound of it will be unfamiliar at first, but soon it will roll right off as if I've been saying it forever.  The name will be lifted in my prayers. I'll sing it in the "Happy Birthday" song.  I'll write it on Christmas gift tags. I won't go a day without thinking it.

For this one, I'll prepare a comfy bed and favorite foods when visits come. I'll rejoice when first words are said and when first steps are taken. I'll wipe the dust off the old books, and the stories will come to life again. This little one will breathe a new energy into my life. 

Family means one thing now, but it will mean a new thing soon

In three days, I'll get on a plane that will take me to the place where this little one is. Though I don't know exactly how it will all go down, the scenario is rife with possibility! 

My son with his own child.  His miracle. Will I smile until my face hurts?  Will I cry at the sweetness of it all?  When I see my kind and gentle daughter-in-law sweetly mothering, will I be able to keep a dry eye? Will I shriek with joy so loudly that I'll startle the baby and they'll have to "shush" me?  My heart has proven to be an unruly sort, so I just don't know. Anything is possible. But here's what I think. 

I kind of think I'll stand to the side taking it all in--waiting my turn for the moment I will hold this little one for the first time. Then I'll introduce myself.

"Hey little one. It's me!  Your grandma. But you can call me Dovey.  I live just over there--just across the ocean.  It seems faraway, but it really isn't.  Just a hop, skip and a jump. How blessed you are to be loved by people here and there. You are my family.  My people. Happy Birthday. Jesus loves you. Welcome to the world".

Those are my thoughts and words that I want to say though I admit I've yet to fully "become" who I will be. So who knows. I write knowing it's highly likely that all the pretty words will fly out the window when I see this child for the first time. In which case, I'll just hold tight, rock and hum, and let love speak for itself.