In cleaning up my computer files recently I ran across this story that I’d saved years ago. I can’t remember why I saved it but apparently I liked it then and I still like it now. I’m still pondering this fresh start that 2016 has brought me. Peter’s story reminds me to be careful to not rush through and wish my days away, not even the hard ones or not so fun ones. I should like to savor the moments and the memories of each day. “I should like to live my life again as if for the first time…”
Category Archives: borrowed words
Today marks 27 years of marriage for my husband Tommy and I. This is nothing short of a miracle. Anyone who has been married longer than a week could say the same thing.
Can you _elieve we are in Novem_er?? There are a few months throughout the year that I’m not particularly fond of _ut Novem_er has always _een one of my favorites. It’s the season of _eing grateful for the gifts God has given to us rather than the ones we give each other. And God’s gifts are simply the “est”!
I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that prayer works and I couldn’t be convinced otherwise. I know several people who are praying for me right now. Either because I asked them to or just because they’re good to me like that. They are praying over me to have hope, to have peace, to sustain, to allow God to continue writing my story. I am praying for them too.
In putting this piece together on my favorite quotes, I thought, “This should be easy. I have SO many good quotes to choose from!” Then I thought, “This is going to be hard. I have SO many good quotes to choose from!!”
I’m a lover of words. In written form mostly. I have an app on my computer that sends me an update each week as to how many words I’ve written as well as how many mistakes I’ve made. We won’t discuss the mistakes but in one recent week I wrote over 100,000 words. That’s crazy to me.
As an introvert, I can’t handle too many of the spoken kinds of words. I must take that kind in small doses and spread out over time and preferably spoken quietly. Our kids all love words and have become quite clever in their use of them. This love for words started early in our son’s life. He was famous for picking up on a word and using it over and over again. Not even really using it but saying it. Over and over again. When our oldest daughter was in the 8th grade she had back surgery for scoliosis and during our time in the hospital, our son (6th grade) got utterly hung up on, addicted, flat out obsessed with the word “Abercrombie”. Not to be confused with the clothing store (I don’t even think we had one of those in our town yet), it was the name of an adjacent building to the hospital we were in. A building that we had to pass through to another hospital that had a McDonald’s, thus one that we passed through frequently. He would repeat “Abercrombie. Abercrombie” over and over again. You have to admit it is a fun word and sort of rolls off.
Back on the path… I’m a lover of words… and how they turn into stories. I bought the book, Homeland, by Barbara Kingsolver a few years ago because it’s a book with short stories and I typically only have the mental capacity to read in snippets. I picked it up recently for some writing inspiration. I love how Kingsolver put words together to create images and emotions that tell a vivid story. I love being moved by words. I constantly strive to be a better writer. A better storyteller. I love the thought that my words will one day move or inspire someone. Even if only me.
These borrowed words are from Chapter 1:
“The ones who could not travel, the aged and the infirm and the very young, were hidden in deep cane thickets where they would remain undiscovered until they were bones. When the people’s hearts could not bear any more, they laid their deerskin packs on the ground and settled again.
They built clay houses with thin bent poles for spines, and in autumn they went down to the streams where the sycamore trees had let their year’s work fall, the water steeped brown as leaf tea, and the people cleansed themselves of the sins of the scattered-bone time. They called their refugee years The Time When We Were Not, and they were forgiven, because they had carried the truth of themselves in a sheltered place inside the flesh, exactly the way a fruit that had gone soft still carries inside itself the clean, hard stone of its future.”
When I read this, I could visualize pieces of my own life. Maybe it resonates with your life too.
*Hidden in deep cane thickets where they would remain undiscovered until they were bones
*When their hearts could bear no more, they laid down their packs and settled again
*The refugee years, The Time When We Were Not
*They cleansed themselves of the scattered-bone time
*They carried the truth of themselves like a fruit that had gone soft still carries her fruit
In life we often feel invisible and left for dead, exhausted and tired of running, mourning the loss of the years we’ll never get back, in need of cleansing and forgiveness, battered but not shattered.
Maybe it’s time for a trip to the streams.
Longing for our homeland, we will carry on… and maybe we’ll be fortunate enough to pass through the building with an amazing name like Abercrombie, that will give us some joy and hope as we travel.
And now all I can think of is McDonalds.
She graduated this morning. As this world mourns, Heaven rejoices as a faithful servant is now home. She lived a very full and faithful 88 years on this earth, remembered as one of the most influential women of faith in the 20th century.
I don’t recall when I first heard of Elisabeth Elliot but I do know that it was regarding their mission service to unreached and less than welcoming tribal communities. I grew up in GA’s (Girls in Action) and Acteens which were programs in our church which taught us about being missionaries. That is likely where I heard of her first but it wasn’t until my adult years when I watched the movie, End of the Spear, that my heart was connected to hers. Her husband, Jim, would die at the end of the spear thrust into him by a villager in a community they were trying to share Christ with. She would later go back and serve these same people who killed her husband.
Elisabeth Elliot. What a woman. What a story. What a legacy.
Her passing makes me sit back and wonder about how I’m spending my life and what legacy I will leave. I can only hope that I will contribute a fraction of the good to my world that she did to hers. I know I’ve got some work to do.
“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.” ― Elisabeth Elliot
“There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.” ― Elisabeth Elliot
“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” ― Elisabeth Elliot
“This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience – it looks for a way of being constructive.
Love is not possessive.
Love is not anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own ideas.
Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage.
Love is not touchy.
Love does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
Love knows no limits to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that stands when all else has fallen.” ― Elisabeth Elliot
“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.” ― Elisabeth Elliot
“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.” ― Elisabeth Elliot,
“God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — “severe mercies” at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better.” ― Elisabeth Elliot
To be a woman of faith, could there be a higher calling?
If you’d like to know more about Elisabeth Elliot’s story you can read her book, Through Gates of Splendor or watch the movie, End of the Spear. She also has written a number of books and has several videos out on youtube.
For if He causes grief, Then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. Lamentations 3:32
We got married in 1988. In an average sized Southern Baptist Church with about 200 people attending. The ceremony was as I’d hoped, as was the reception. My Mom made my bridesmaids dresses and we did all of the flowers except for one arrangement that went on my cake. My mom made our wedding cake and Tommy’s mom made the groom’s cake. My Mom, sisters and aunts and cousins (I don’t even remember who all was there) stayed up until about 2am getting all of the food ready for the reception. It was a DIY wedding. And it was perfect.
Here’s a video I put together when we celebrated our 20th anniversary. Some of those glasses and hairstyles, tho….
The song in the video is by Cindy Morgan and is called “How Could I Ask For More?”. When we got married in our small town Southern Baptist Church, not only was there not enough room for dancing at the reception but it wouldn’t have been allowed. We didn’t give any thought to needing a song that would be “our song”. But if we had, this would have been it. The song was released in 1992 (4 years into our marriage) and it quickly became “our song” and has stuck with us through the years. Sometimes carrying us, sometimes celebrating with us, sometimes challenging us.
There were times when we could easily say, “How could we ask for more?” but there have also been times when we could easily say
“THIS is not at all what I asked for!”
This post, however, is not about our marriage or even about this being “our song”. That was all just background information to fill you in on how meaningful this song has been to me over the years. Very rarely can I listen to it and my eyes remain dry. This post is about a song that began as a thread in 1992 from Cindy Morgan’s heart to mine, woven into our story and how it has remained an integral part of our journey.
“So many things I thought would bring me happiness
Some dreams that are realities today
Such an irony the things that mean the most to me
Are the memories that I’ve made along the way
So if there’s anything I’ve learned from this journey I am on
Simple truths will keep you going, simple love will keep you strong
‘Cause there are questions without answers and flames that never die
And heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise
So thank you, Lord, oh thank you, Lord
And yeah, how could I ask for more?”
(partial lyrics from How Could I Ask for More by Cindy Morgan)
I follow Cindy Morgan on facebook and she recently posted an excerpt from her upcoming book (which comes out in the Fall), How Could I Ask For More? (Stories of blessings, battles, and beauty). Oh, how I love that title! The best stuff is in the parenthesis. I asked her for permission to share it here. Not that I needed permission because it was public already, but it’s just so meaningful to me and I really wanted her blessing. She gave it. So here it is:
The will to survive is an underestimated force. Sometimes it would seem it has been buried too deep to reach down and grab hold of—but then, something happens to remind you that you want to live.
Like when you wake at night, as I once did, with the blankets somehow twisted and covering your airway. With a surge of adrenaline you yank the covers off your face and take a deep and desperate breath. You would fight anything or anyone trying to deny you that breath. Even though, moments before, you were totally taking that breath for granted. Like air, like life, we can so easily take important things for granted until something or someone reminds you not to.
Someone who shows you the most powerful moment of living . . .
The moment of dying.
She was a picture of health, my friend Cindy. More than that, though, she was a picture of life. Her flaming red hair, a ready smile, and quick wit always made you feel energized and comforted all at once in her presence. She wore skirts with cardigans the color of autumn leaves. I always think of her when I see the colors of the fall.
She found love late in life. She had married only five years before her diagnosis of lung cancer. Her husband told me he wondered later if she had had cancer their entire marriage but didn’t know it.
There was something about that statement that stayed with me.
Are we all suffering from something we don’t realize? Something that keeps us from living the life we had always planned to? Something that will sneak up on us one day and the time we thought was limitless will be running low in our overturned hourglass?
Then we find ourselves reaching down for the will to do battle. To survive. To breathe.
P.S. The picture in the photo quote was taken at a little boutique hotel in Melaka, Malaysia in March 2013. We stayed there once before for our 23rd anniversary in November 2011.
Because sometimes other people say it better…
Be Where You Are. Feel What You Feel.
Feel what you feel.
and what you feel is quite real.
Poised and stoic,
it’s the face you display
when the onlookers chime in
to say you shouldn’t feel that way.
Be where you are.
Feel what you feel.
and embraced the totality of who we are,
instead of exhaustively overcompensating
Be where you are.
Feel what you feel.
What if we embraced
instead of trying to makes sense of it all?
Would life be but a vapor,
instead of an ongoing up-hill crawl?
Will we ever get that we’re in this together?
Can we give ourselves permission
to come inside, out of the bad weather?
Be where you are.
Feel what you feel.AEJ 4/14/15
To read more poetry from my friend, Amanda, click here Musings of a Sister
And in the words of Mandisa:
Well, I’m tired of saying everything
I feel like I’m supposed to say
I’m tired of smiling all the time
I wanna throw the mask away
Sometimes you just have a bad day
Sometimes you just wanna scream
Tell me I’m not the only one
Tell me that you feel just like me
We keep tryin’ to make it look so nice
And we keep hidin’ what’s goin’ on inside
But what if I share my brokenness
What if you share how you feel
And what if we weren’t afraid of this crazy mess
What if we were real?
Spring brings new possibilities, new hopes, new life… We plow and till the soil and plant our gardens… We watch and wait for them to grow and bloom… miracles await.
Often other people have better words than me so I borrow them.
“Break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12)
Here are two kinds of ground: fallow ground and ground that has been broken up by the plow.
The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Such a field, as it lies year after year, becomes a familiar landmark to the crow and the blue jay. Had it intelligence, it might take a lot of satisfaction in its reputation: it has stability; nature has adopted it; it can be counted upon to remain always the same, while the fields around it change from brown to green and back to brown again. Safe and undisturbed, it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of sleepy contentment.
But it is paying a terrible price for its tranquility; never does it feel the motions of mounting life, nor see the wonders of bursting seed, nor the beauty of ripening grain. Fruit it can never know, because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.
In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always come, practical, cruel, business-like and in a hurry. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken.
But its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it. All over the field, the hand of God is at work in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born, to grow, mature, and consumate the grand prophecy latent in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature’s wonders follow the plow.
There are two kinds of lives also: the fallow and the plowed. For example of the fallow life, we need not go far. They are all too plentiful among us.
The man of fallow life is contented with himself and the fruit he once bore. He does not want to be disturbed. He smiles in tolerant superiority at revivals, fastings, self- searching, and all the travail of fruit bearing and the anguish of advance. The spirit of adventure is dead within him. He is steady, “faithful,” always in his accustomed place (like the old field), conservative, and something of a landmark in the little church. But he is fruitless.
The curse of such a life is that it is fixed, both in size and in content. “To be” has taken the place of “to become.” The worst that can be said of such a man is that he is what he will be. He has fenced himself in, and by the same act he has fenced out God and the miracle.
Broken To Bring Forth Fruit
The plowed life is the life that has, in the act of repentance, thrown down the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession into the soul. The urge of the Spirit, the pressure of circumstances and the distress of fruitless living have combined thoroughly to humble the heart. Such a life has put away defense, and has forsaken the safety of death for the peril of life.
Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of God: these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed. And, as always, fruit follows the plow. Life and growth begin as God “rains down righteousness.” Such a one can testify, “And the hand of the Lord was upon me there.” (Ezek. 3:22).
Corresponding to these two kinds of life, religious history shows two phases, the dynamic and the static. The dynamic periods were those heroic times when God’s people stirred themselves to do the Lord’s bidding and went out fearlessly to carry His witness to the world. They exchanged the safe of inaction for the hazards of God- inspired progress. Invariably, the power of God followed such action. The miracle of God went when and where his people went. It stayed when His people stopped.
The static periods were those times when the people of God tired of the struggle and sought a life of peace and security. They busied themselves, trying to conserve the gains made in those more-daring times when the power of God moved among them.
Bible history is replete with examples. Abraham “went out” on his great adventure of faith, and God went with him. Revelations, theophanies, the gift of Palestine, covenants and the promises of rich blessings to come were the result. Then Israel went down into Egypt, and the wonders ceased for four hundred years. At the end of that time, Moses heard the call of God and stepped forth to challenge the oppressor. A whirlwind of power accompanied that challenge, and Israel soon began to march. As long as she dared to march, God sent out His miracles to clear a way for her. Whenever she lay down like a fallow field, God turned off His blessing and waited for her to rise again and command his power.
This is a brief but fair outline of the history of Israel and the Church as well. As long as they “went forth and preached everywhere”, the Lord worked “with them…confirming the Word with signs following” (Mark 16:20). But when they retreated to monasteries or played at building pretty cathedrals, the help of God was withdrawn ’till a Luther or a Wesley arose to challenge hell again. Then, invariably, God poured out His power as before.
In every denomination, missionary society, local church or individual Christian, this law operates. God works as long as His people live daringly: He ceases when they no longer need His aid. As soon as we seek protection out of God, we find it to our own undoing. Let us build a safety- wall of endowments, by-laws, prestige, multiplied agencies for the delegation of our duties, and creeping paralysis sets in at once, a paralysis which can only end in death.
Miracles Follow The Plow
The power of God comes only where it is called out by the plow. It is released into the Church only when she is doing something that demands it. By the word “doing”, I do not mean mere activity. The Church has plenty of “hustle” as it is, but in all her activities, she is very careful to leave her fallow ground mostly untouched. She is careful to confine her hustling within the fear-marked boundaries of complete safety. That is why she is fruitless; she is safe, but fallow.
The only way to power for such a church is to come out of hiding and once more take the danger-encircled path of obedience. Its security is its deadliest foe. The church that fears the plow writes its own epitaph. The church that uses the plow walks in the way of revival.