Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Wartime Story

This weekend, we remember those who have given their lives so that the interests of our nation can be preserved. And by interests I don't just mean the oil reserves of other nations although I understand that our access to them is fairly crucial to the survival of life as we know it here in America, right or wrong. By interest I mean our freedom. Freedom to live, worship, try stuff, free from fear of oppression. 

I am the daughter of a French mother and a Dutch father who are still grateful today for the liberation of Europe, which I understand took the strong arm of the US to achieve. 

Just this morning mom told me a wartime story of her girlhood in France. She and some of her friends, all about 14 years old, were surprised by a bombing raid as they made their way to a rural train station. Quickly jumping in a ditch, the girls watched spellbound as the battle unfolded in the sky. To their dismay, several allied planes were shot down and the gunfire stopped. Resuming their trek to the station they saw a small formation of German soldiers coming out of the field, rifles trained on their prize: a captured American pilot. 

Fearing for his life, the girls were made speechless as he ambled casually past, surrounded by his captors. They stood with open mouthed admiration at the sight of him, not just because he was handsome, which he was, not just because he was American, though that made him an instant hero to this gaggle of girls, prisoners in their own country, no he won their hearts because in the midst of his predicament, he casually strode past still chewing on his gum. To them, he was the image of cool, a picture of victory over the oppressor. Spontaneously, the girls erupted in fervent applause for their hero. They quickly thought better of it however when the Germans guns were turned on them. She thinks they all fell in love at once with the gum chewing American.  

So first of all thank you to all the soldiers past and present, thank you to you and your families for doing what must often be a difficult, sometimes wrenching job, for protecting our ability to continue living as we do. As an immigrant, I for one, am so very grateful. Grateful that my parents, like countless others in various times and places, were liberated.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

Happy Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Stepping Back...

I am famous (relatively speaking) for fairly often missing the forest for the trees. 

The way I'm wired, (that's a tame expression for how God intricately wrought me in the lower parts of the earth - just love that intense language), I am very much a detail person. I have come to accept there is nothing wrong with that. Indeed, as the Brits would say, indeed it can be an asset as with my painting efforts for instance and even at times in relationship to people: I miss very little of what goes on between people in the room. Of course that's not always a blessing, ignorance is bliss more often than not. But I digress. 

Rest has been such a detail in my heart and mind in recent weeks. By detail I mean I have zoomed in on Rest with abandon but now, I can tell, it's time to zoom out again to the broader view. 

There are many times in life when rest, stepping away physically and assuming an attitude of repose, is simply not practical or even possible. Having been a mother (of twins no less), I fully appreciate the vigor of that statement. 

So then what? Are we supposed to just grin and bear it? Even though I, for one, have often done just that, I do believe there is a better way and am quickly becoming addicted. 

Yep, love. God's love. Trusting in Him. Turning to Him. Crying out for His help though we don't see or feel Him near and resting in the knowledge He will answer, sooner or later. He says that if we know He has heard us (1John 5:15), then we already have in essence what we asked for. 

Think about it. Imagine yourself alone, no money, no wallet, stranded by the side of the road in a most inhospitable place. What do you do, how would you feel? Now imagine you found the cell phone you thought you had left at home and it was fully charged. You call your most trusted friend, the one who has always come through for you. They not only answer but immediately get underway to help you. Now how would you feel? That's what I'm talking about. You'd rest in the knowledge that real help was on the way. 

I've come to realize that Rest truly is an act of faith which explains why God seems to place such importance on it in our lives.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Emotional Rest...

On Sunday, I was too tired to attend a family gathering. I never miss them but felt my head spinning: oxygen intake was still not be what it should be. 

With my contingent gone, I was retreating to my reading chair when I decided to pull on my raingear and head out to the back yard. A friend had just completed a beautiful lean-to against the shed -a cheerful garden workspace- and it needed 'moving in'. 

I spent a good hour out there under the soft grey cloud cover, sheltered from the falling rain, its gentle splatter my only companion. With unhurried focus I began to organize the space, situating the potting table, the containers, the tools. I was puffing a bit after a while and wondered if I was overdoing it but then I noticed a sort of inner buoyancy so I continued for a spell.  

By the time I got back inside, I knew I had spent my physical energy but realized at the same that my emotional tank had been completely refilled. I understood then the multi-dimensionality of rest. None of this was my plan, in fact I've had plenty such whims end in total frustration. No, this struck me as one of those 'Father knows best' sort of moments. My Father in Heaven that is. 

The following day a family situation came to my attention, you know the kind, you have them too, and away I went on that familiar road to worry. This time however, with that full tank in my emotional reserve, I was able to stop myself in mid-thought: I would roll it all onto God's immeasurable shoulders, casting all my cares on Him, because He cares for me*, and I found myself at peace.

So I learned that rest is not simply for physical renewal,  we are complex creatures, it involves emotional needs as well.

Never again will I blithely ignore my need for rest, emotional, physical or mental... never again will I thoughtlessly muscle my way through life, physically or emotionally, thinking I can or should in the name of perseverance or some such lofty ideal. Neither will I ever again view rest merely as a prescribed religious exercise. Rest is a time when God does His mysterious work of restoration and preparation in us to fit us for what He knows is coming. 

I do not expect to walk flawlessly from now on where rest (or anything else) is concerned. But I have been awakened to its reality and necessity in more ways than I had ever imagined. I am convinced we need it as much as we need food and shelter. I will never forget this illness for what God has given me in it. In fact you might say I am going to rest in it.

(*1 Peter 5:7)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

More Rest

This all started with being sick with pneumonia and learning about rest. REST. The importance of it with an emphasis on the definition found in a Bible Dictionary: suffer to be lacking.

That's one of those killer concepts. Accept the imperfection. Let it go. Stop. Rest.

I'm not advocating turning to a permanent vegetative state, this is about resting periodically. Knowing how to let go. Finding out what it even means to rest. It's one thing to cease from activity but it's another to get the mind and emotions to come along. That's where the letting go part comes in.

As I was driving through our local farm fields recently, appreciating the freshly turned earth ready for seed and the promise of a new crop, I was reminded of another definition of rest: allow to lay fallow.

According to the online Dictionary, fallow ground is: "land left unseeded after being plowed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop." So while the earth is untouched, it renews itself, it rejuvenates, it is getting ready for the future (Don't tell me there isn't a God who is love in charge here). It reminds me of the scientific discoveries being made about sleep and its important role in rejuvenation. 

As a side note, I have seen in my own little garden that when the earth is left untouched for a season, it forms a crust and settles. It doesn't look its best I always think, not its most promising. Apparently the reality is quite the opposite. What a lesson in not judging by the appearance. 

So rest, I am learning, is God's opportunity to renew us, to repair and prepare us for what lies ahead. 

You know, since only He knows what really lies ahead, He is uniquely qualified for the job. Rest is growing on me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


So in my last post I talked about REST. As I thought on it today I realized that the prequel to Rest is TRUST.

The only reason I can rest at all is because of my conviction that whether I understand whatever or whomever it is or not, whether I see anything coming or not, God is in control.

Yes, bad things happen but I am convinced that they are allowed to happen to us by God. One read through the Book of Job has taught me that. And that makes all the difference in the world to me. All the difference.

Think about it. Nothing gets past Him. It's not as if he slept or nodded off or got distracted and lost track of me. He is everywhere at once!!! Unfathomable that is. Everywhere. I mean everywhere at once. Not only in space but in time!!! He knows the end from the beginning, from the very start of things, He knows how it'll play out. Wrap your head around that! He knows what is going to happen. He doesn't miss anything, not now, not tomorrow not ever.

Secondly He loves us. So many passages in the Bible say just that, some directly, some implicitly; Jesus said it "once and for all" with his very life. God is FOR us. It's not just an indulgent ok, I love you cause you're my kid. No, it's purposeful, eternal, meaning it'll last forever, it will outlast EVERYTHING, it's a with all His heart sort of love for each one of us.

Not only have I felt that love transform my life (and believe me it needed transforming) but to really settle the issue, I can read all about it in the Bible,  it's all there. Amazing. It tells me God loves me over and over and over again. Again, not indulgently, oh, no, He has unflinching character and integrity (He wrote the Book). But in spite of it all He loves us devotedly, forever. And that's much better than indulgence. I trust Him.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


one of my early watercolors...
The last few weeks have been interesting: was down with pneumonia (no worries, am getting better or wouldn't be blogging).  I learned something though: a little bit about REST. 

Being no couch potato, the idea of doing nothing but read or watch tv is foreign to me. I cannot abide it  while there's daylight with so much to do. However I had so little energy, my options were limited, so I read a lot. And did some thinking. It turned into a discovery. 

I looked up the word REST. Of all the definitions, the one that stood out to me this time was this: "suffer to be lacking"... Think about it.  

It was fairly easy to stop all my activity because I was really sick and had little energy and no choice about it but inwardly it was easy because I felt a sense of the presence of the Lord in my illness. So first of all I wasn't worried and secondly it made me surrender more easily. It actually gave me comfort and even joy. I read about rest. God Himself rested and, I noticed again, He insists that we do too, and regularly. The whole idea of setting aside Sunday comes to mind but I think there's more to it. Sabbath Rest.  Stop. Desist. Let go. Stop. Stop. Let it go. 

The immediate reaction is "No I can't! This and that needs to be finished or developed or undertaken! I can't!!" there's an endless list. 

Stop. It's not about my performance. It's not even about what I can make of something (remember Cain). It's not about what I can do. Stop. Rest from all that pressure. Let it go. That's what I heard. So I thought I'd pass it on. I'm sure it's good for my health on a cellular level. I can feel it. Inside. Letting go. Accept, suffer if I must, but accept that I am lacking. Just accept it ok? I'm not perfect but it's ok I don't have to fix it. He's got it covered. I feel stress melting away a little. I like it. Rest. Go ahead and work but takes times to rest. Stop. Let it go. Again and again. 

So I want to thank God for this pneumonia but then I think, is that right? I mean did He give me Pneumonia? Honestly, I can't figure that one out so you know what, it's ok, I'll just let it go. That's it. I got it. Rest.