~ Acid Etched God Stains

Maple leaf stained concreteMaple leaf stains on concrete.

How many have you seen this fall as you walk with your head down, watching your feet?

People are always commenting on how I walk with my head down, wondering if it’s because I’m depressed or something.

No, it’s a very old habit born of extreme nearsightedness and clumsiness. It’s a safety issue. (I have lots of safety issues, don’t you?)

It’s not that I’ve missed seeing the actual real leaves on the trees or in the yards. I haven’t–especially not in my own yard where we have thirteen mature trees. So far I’ve managed to get three piles of leaves to the street for the township leaf-vacuuming machine. Three piles three feet high by five feet across by fifty feet long. So, yeah, I’m seeing the beautiful leaves in all their glory.

But this sight, of maple leaf stains on concrete, made me stop. The leaves are gone, blown away by November winds. Left behind are the perfect impressions. Tannic acid leached into concrete.

Jesus is here, and yet gone. Left behind is his very essence, acid-etched into the hard surface of our hearts, changing us into an image of him for the world to see–or not–to stop and notice with awe and wonder–or trample underfoot.

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~ Worm Tubes and Shark’s Ear Drums

It's a Sperm Whale Inner Ear Drum!
It’s a Sperm Whale Inner Ear Drum!

Yesterday we visited an old friend who has a gem-rated seashell collection – over 8,000 pieces.

We held a worm tube from two miles down in the ocean, a sperm whale eardrum, and the most bizarre shrimp basket made of silica where a certain type of shrimp mate for life and live their entire lives stuck in the lacy basket, while their kids escape when they’re tiny, one “litter” after the other. Needless to say, the variety of the collection was amazing. All these things God made for the sheer joy of creation. Mountain ranges painted on the sides of shells that live on the floor of the ocean.

Why? For the fun of it.

Tell me again why people try to convince Christians that they don’t know what fun is? Hellooooo, with a Daddy as wild as ours? Who can know God? As His children, we actually can. What fun can top that?

“How countless are Your works, LORD!
In wisdom You have made them all;
the earth is full of Your creatures.
Here is the sea, vast and wide,
teeming with creatures beyond number —
living things both large and small.
There the ships move about,
and Leviathan, which You formed to play there.”
Psalms 104:24-26 ( Holman Christian Standard)

 

~ Running Away . . . to Play

DSC_0117 Do you ever want to just run away?

Sometimes a play break sounds sooo tempting! I don’t mean the kind where you enjoy playing a video game or crafting, but really playing. As in, run around in the woods, climb a tree, explore a playhouse. Be a kid. Again.

I understand wanting to escape work. I really do. Especially on days like today when the technology wasn’t working, and going to help sites didn’t help. Running into the woods would have been wonderful. Except it was cold and snowing, and I had a deadline.

Ah, rats.

In the midst of my work, I came across this photo of the playhouse at our campground. Ah, instant peace! Almost as good as actually being there.

Sometimes the playing simply needs to take place in our minds. Just as an aroma can take us straight back through the decades to a favorite memory of a meal, a picture can take us to a place of respite.

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of green woods, memories made sharp with sounds and smells and sensations. Just looking at this photo brings the buzzing of insects, the chirping of birds, the rustle of leaves, the itch of . . . oh, nevermind. Let’s leave the mosquitoes for summer, when it’s not snowing.

Isn’t it awesome how that we can read a verse, a phrase in God’s word, and instantly our minds can go to a future we don’t yet know, a perfection we can’t comprehend, and yet . . . we’re there.

~ Smile, You’re on Driver’s License Camera

Moe drivers license

Ya gotta love PA.

They keep snapping driver’s license photos until we have one we like – no kidding!

It changed from the former mug shots to this kind of treatment maybe ten years ago. The reason? They find it easier to identify people when they’re pulled over if that actually look like themselves. Also the police get to tell people to smile, which makes the whole ticketing process humorous.

Remembering this little fact about our state made me smile, too. It’s a little like reading Proverbs, which is constantly reminding us that people will generally treat us the same way that we treat them.

In the old days we’d stand in a long line of grumbling people, and walk out a couple of hours later with a mug shot only fit for a police file. Now the whole process lasts a few minutes, most of which is spent taking several pictures and showing the results for approval amidst smiles and laughter.

Once again, God’s way wins. Smile!

God Glimpses #24 – Am I an Artist, or a Cow?

Leather Jackets

God made me with artistic talent. God made me to write.

I am not a plumber. I am not an electrician. I cannot repair cars.

I am not a cow. Cows have a multitude of uses, and most of those uses come after the cow stops giving milk. Dog food, glue, belts and gloves and purses and shoes and jackets.

Book covers.

I am not a cow. I don’t have to wait until I’m dead to be useful. I may never look at a leather book cover the same way. God made me to fulfill a purpose.

I’m so glad I get to do it while I’m alive!

No more guilt because God made me to be something awesome, something I enjoy. Whoever heard of a car mechanic complaining that he hates working on cars, that it takes up his every thought? Who ever heard of a car mechanic caring whether people thought he should be paid to do his job? Really, where does this guilt come from?

Do people need leather book covers? Leather jackets? Leather gloves or purses? No, they want.

My job is to be so good at what God called me to be that people think they need what I have to offer. Because what I have to offer is a glimpse into what God can do with someone with a little talent and a lot of baggage, someone who is submitted to the process of God’s refinery. Someone who’s not going to let what I’m not stop me from becoming what He IS.

Because He’s called me into His likeness.

God Glimpses #23 – Indecision vs. God’s Design

coffee table apron
my coffee table

Do you love design? I know I do. No mid-century modern for me. No thanks! Oh, I know those of you who love those sleek lines will claim that is what makes it design.

To me that’s like saying a single note is the equivalent of a symphony.

Give me ornate carvings, layered paintings, embellished quilts. Oh, yes, I agree that the eye needs a place to rest. I understand that, and plan for that. Even my walls have blank expanses, and I’m an artist.

The point of sensory overload is different for everyone.

At this moment, I’m so overwhelmed I’m not capable of much more than running screaming into the sunset. When I’m overwhelmed, I’m incapable of making good decisions, incapable of true creativity, incapable of being the person I want people to see, or hear. I seek a hole to hide in until the input stops. And that doesn’t work all that well, because I take me in there. Never mind all the outside influences, I’m too complex.

I’m so grateful that the God who created everything–in layers, with ornate design, with embellishments that serve no purpose but to delight the eye–is not overwhelmed, does not suffer from sensory overload.

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways. ”   James 1:5-8

These are perhaps the most complex verses in the Bible. An intertwining mass of circular reasoning to those who don’t get it. Most of us don’t get it. I don’t get it. Too often.

The verses before make it clear that the topic is the testing of our faith through trials, and that testing leads to endurance, maturity, completeness. I suppose it’s no wonder that God doesn’t make that wisdom we’re asking for clear every time. Would it be a test of faith if we knew the answer for sure?

So the test is this–can we believe that he’s given us wisdom–have the guts to act on what we think is the answer? Sometimes that still, small voice is teeny. Sometimes we know we’re hearing God say, “You know what to do” but we doubt ourselves and our ability to hear God, because we’ve ignored him too often, hidden in our holes too easily, delayed the inevitable.

So we don’t trust ourselves, and we float on the sea of indecision, in a boat named “Unanswered Prayers.”

I don’t know about you, but I suffer from motion-sickness.

God Glimpses #22 – Architectural Disaster or Design?

unfinished building

What is this architect thinking? Can you see the odd-shaped hole in the roof, and the cut-out down through the three floors? And what’s with that missing corner of the roof on the back side?

God Glimpse! God is my architect. Those are his plans, his blocks and stones, his mortar, his shingles. It’s not my place to wonder why there’s a hole in my roof letting in the rain. It’s my job to stand in place, trust him, and prepare myself to shelter those who come to see what God has done with me.

God Glimpses #21 – Why can’t Artists Read?

The-Raising-of-Lazarus-xx-Benjamin-Gerritsz-Cuyp

How many of you hate it when the book cover is all wrong? Two pages into the book and the main character is described as freckled with brown hair. You flip back to the cover and she’s blonde, What’s with that?

The children’s lesson today was on Lazarus. You know, the guy Jesus raised from the dead by shouting–from outside the tomb. And Lazarus came out. He was bound hand and feet, wrapped in grave clothes and had a napkin over his face. Says it right there in the Bible.

Could I find one correct picture out of hundreds that artists have painted over the centuries? Noooooo. Apparently, they all thought that the comedic thought of Lazarus doing the bunny hop out of that tomb was a tad too lighthearted for their serious talent.

I dunno, I suppose the correct cartoon versions were thrown in the trash by overzealous moms.

So, what’s a teacher to do? We played “What’s wrong with this picture” after reading the story. The kids got it right.

Those of us old enough to know better keep wanting to change God’s story, to make it meld with our sensibilities. We don’t want to think about the maggots in the grave clothes. We don’t want to let the Word stand on its own.

God Glimpses #19 – Seeds of Hope

sycamore seed balls

Yesterday’s post dealt with hope deferred. When I took this photo, the sky was a beautiful blue, just begging me to look up.

Sycamore seeds. Fascinating textured globes of promise. In my minds eye they are broken all over the driveway, as they will be soon. They’re smashed from the impact of falling, squashed by tires, blown into fluff bits, and floating in the wind in tiny segments. They’re everywhere! They’re landing in my flower beds, in the lawn, heading for the soccer field across the street . . . if they make it past the hedge of trees.

“Just DO it” reverberates from yesterday.

“In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good.”  Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)

 

God Glimpses #18 – Hope Deferred

snow on flower pots

The Bible says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” All winter long I’ve been ignoring these flower pots on my back porch, pretending the watering can doesn’t exist, pushing down dreams of spring green.

This morning, (after not one flake of predicted snow fell from the so-called snow storm earlier in the week,) I woke to find this not-so-sugar coating still falling from a sky that should have been blue.

(Shoot the weather men and women, please!)

We have no control over the weather. We can justifiably feel sick at the thought of another cold day with even the emerging crocuses looking frozen and miserable.

But do we defer our own hope? What dreams and goals do you have that could be achieved if you would just DO instead of dream . . . or wish . . . or pretend to hope. I don’t know about you, but I’m great at setting goals, not so great at remembering to look at them by mid-week.

DOers get things done. It’s that simple. Spend less time planning, and more time DOing. That’s my God Glimpse for today, folks. He sprinkled frosting on my misery and reminded me to look up (. . . and then go DO.)