Friday, April 20, 2018

Meeting God on a Riding Lawn Mower...

I love to mow my mom's yard.
It's not the mowing part I love...although I do get to use a riding lawn mower.
And I like seeing the progress as I go and looking at the neatly trimmed grass as I back out of the driveway.
But what I truly love is ear buds in my ears and the music turned up loud.
Rend Collective, Needtobreathe, All Sons and Daughters, Phil Wickham, Mack Brock, Tauren Wells...
Just to name a few.
And I sing.
Loud.
Because the mower is loud and no one is going to hear me, right?
Oh Lord, please let no one hear my singing.
And God goes with me.
Back and forth...this way and that.
And as the grass gets a trim, my heart is filled.
It is filled with comfort.
I'm mowing the grass just like my dad liked it done.
It honors him and by honoring him I feel a bit of relief from the sorrow.
My heart is filled with joy.
Joy from the words of the songs I am singing so badly (but sincerely) to my Savior.
And it is filled with love.
Love for my mom and dad...it's just a little thing I can do to help.
And the special time with God makes this "chore" an extravagant time of fellowship.
He is worthy of all the praise pouring out of me as I make tight turns and straight(ish) lines.
And it occurs to me as I pound the steering wheel with the beat of the music...
That I might look awfully foolish.
But I don't care.

"And I will be undignified
And I will praise the Lord my God with all my might
And I will leave my pride behind
And I will praise the Lord my God with all my life"
(Undignified by Rend Collective)

I continue my worship as I drive home...usually singing just as loudly.
Yesterday it was a sunny day and I had the windows down.
I sang quieter at stop lights.
Honestly, no one should have to hear that.
And I shed tears of joy as I realized what a blessing it is that God rides with me on the mower.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I was wrong...

I've said it once or twice, that writing fiction is so much fun because I get to be like God...in an imaginary sort of way.
And that seems legit on the surface.
I create people and situations and stir my little finger in the pot of circumstances.
Complete control is mine all mine...(insert sinister laugh here).
I decide who is married, smart, funny, happy, evil...my choice.
Hopes, dreams, desires...all mine.
I choose their home, or lack of one.
My character's quirks are my creation.
I decide whether they succeed or fail,
Whether they live or die.
Just like God, right?
Well, not quite.
There's a missing piece.
The piece de resistance if you will.

None of my characters have free will.
They cannot choose for themselves what they do or the path to take.
I will not be influenced by what I think they would want.
I am a dictatorial kind of "god".
My will is paramount over everyone and everything I write.

God is not like that.
I think that's the most amazing thing about God.
Even though He is all-powerful,
He allows us to make choices.
We choose the people we associate with.
We choose how we spend our time,
And what we do with our one precious life.
And we even choose whether or not we believe He exists.
He steps back and lets us...
Knowing that some of us will make terrible choices and even deny His existence.
It's a chance He's willing to take.
Because...
God doesn't want minions.
He wants children.

As a mom, that was one of the most difficult parts.
The letting go...
But...
God gives me a perfect example of letting go.
He let me go.
He gave me (he gives everyone) freedom.

do love my characters...well, most of them.
But my characters aren't as fortunate.
I make them do all sorts of crazy things.
They have to do it and like it.
My characters were created to do my bidding and that's all.
Until I kill them, or the book ends.
My characters will have to wallow and wait.
Will they live or die?
Their god hasn't decided yet.

In my novel, when my main character flounders in a place of sorrow, this verse brings her comfort:
Psalm 118:5 Out of my distress, I called on the Lord, the Lord answered me and set me free.

God's most loving work is setting us free from the chains of sin and death.
He doesn't use us for a good story,
He loves us and desires a relationship with us.
He wants the story of our lives to go on through eternity with Him.
The story that never ends.
And that's better than any novel ever written.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Loose Change...

I tipped the recliners over yesterday while cleaning.
Fifty-two cents tumbled out of one of them.
Not the one my husband always sits in.
Which led me to believe that the two quarters and two pennies belonged to my dad.

My dad was notorious for leaving change wherever he sat.
He kept his loose change in his pocket and it ALWAYS fell out.
When I was growing up, this was very handy.
If I wanted a soda from the driving range down the street, I'd fish around in the sofa cushions.
Voila!
On ice-cream day in junior high, a little side trip to the living room before leaving for school usually netted the quarter I needed.
My kids caught on to the situation early on.
They loved to check the couch for coins.
I wouldn't be surprised if he loaded up the couch before they visited.
Then again, he probably didn't have to.

My mom bought him a little coin pouch.
She hoped that having all the change in a pouch in his pocket would give it weight to stay put.
It didn't work.
He lost the whole thing.

The last time we went to the movies with my dad was a little over a year ago.
By that time he was fairly hard of hearing.
We sat down and heard the tinkling of change falling to the floor.
My husband and I laughed.
My dad had a puzzled look on his face. "What's so funny?"
"You didn't hear that?" I asked.
"Hear what?"
"Oh nothing. Why don't you stand up for a second."
He stood and I used my phone to light the space under his seat.
A couple of dollars worth of change lay scattered about on the sticky floor.
"Oh my stars," he laughed.
I picked it up and handed it to him but he refused it.
Tradition.
Finders keepers.

So yesterday, when the change fell out of the recliner, I paused.
A little gift from my dad.
When I was a kid, I could have bought a couple of candy bars for the two of us.
Fifty-two cents doesn't go as far as it used to.
I'll just hang on to it.
Thanks Dad.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pulling An All Nighter...

I did not go to college, but I hold several honorary degrees...
The research papers, reports and essays I've edited are too numerous to count.
And although I've spent many hours editing papers, the all-nighter's I've pulled are very different from a college student's.

My dream career was motherhood...is motherhood.
When the kids were little, I had my fair share of sleepless nights.
During that time, I had a silly notion that those days were numbered.
That one day, I'd sleep soundly in my quiet house oblivious to my children because they'd be grown and gone and safe and sound.

One day is here.  My kids are grown and gone.
Yet sleep eludes me.
I'm not up every night, but every now and then, I do not sleep.
Why?
Because I'm a mother.
I lay in bed and think about my kids and start to pray.
Sometimes a passage of scripture comes to mind.
Last night it was 2 Timothy 1:7.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
I prayed that verse over my children. 
I prayed God's protection over my children...protection from the spirit of fear - from the evil one.
God is faithful.

All of my children are in flux - beginning new seasons of their lives - doing big things and taking on enormous challenges.  
My children do not shrink from life.  They live boldly.
My son is starting a strenuous course of study to become a physicians assistant.
My daughter and her husband are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
My younger daughter is graduating from college and looking forward to serving the Lord with her life.
A mom could become overwhelmed with anxiety if she dwelled on the hard work, difficulty, danger, uncertainty and risk involved in each of their endeavors.
I'm thankful that I can fall to my knees before God in the stillness of night and lay my children at His feet.  
Their Heavenly Father, who loves them more than I could hope to, will provide for them, protect them and draw them nearer to Him in the process. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

*Update: This was written almost a year ago...My son is doing well in PA school, my daughter and her husband successfully finished the PCT and my youngest daughter is working in her chosen field...God is faithful. And next year, things may have changed, new challenges might emerge, and God will still be faithful! Amen!