Posts by Pat Baer

Falls Imminent Arrival

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Life, Mystery, Rain, Seasons | 22 comments

rain gutter for blog post

 

Confirmation of falls imminent arrival came in the form of a gentle rain last night and lingers still.

A soft damp blanket overlays everything – especially showcasing the transitional colors of our fruit trees. A few remaining figs and apples hang waiting to be picked, while surrounding leaves are beginning to let go. Our parched lawn welcomes the unfamiliar moisture.

Birds play in puddles, oblivious of tomorrow. Their songs are joyous, free and inspirational.

Time seems to stand still in the mystery of this glorious space in time we call fall.  It’s subtle, but intentional –  poised to abandon summer  while steadily marching on toward winter.

I smell the pavement and anticipate change.

Could it be the bulk of my days I call life, are much like today – a short pause between the luscious summer of youth and the grand finale of winter?

I see wonder in the merging of drips pouring off my rooftop. It satisfies, nourishes, cleanses, restores and subtly tempts my desire to linger.

In the stillness of this seasonal doorway I remember tomorrows bidding.  Fall is only a transition between my beginning and my end of seasons. Winter will come and go, but new life await beyond these harsh borders.

 

“Listen, you heavens, and I will speak. Hear the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord and praise the greatness of God!” Deuteronomy 32:1-3

 

 

photo credit

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Search For Significance

Posted by on Sep 12, 2014 in Children, Extraordinary Everyday People, Truth | 22 comments

#3 framed

 

Our search for significance often begins on a playground sometime between the ages of 3 -5. It starts the day we first risk asking the question, “Will you play with me?” and then matures to even more vulnerability when we dare to add, “Will you be my friend?”.

 

Think about how many times over your lifetime you asked those questions – and how many times the answer either hurt or disappointed you. These encounters are the beginning of our shaping.

 

I watched my granddaughter try to approach a group of girls the other day at the park. The girls were fully engaged in what they were doing and obviously all knew each other well. At first, she stood a distance away from them – observing and waiting. I knew what she wanted and it was agonizing to watch. She inched closer and closer hoping they would notice her, knowing full well she had nothing to offer them but herself.

 

My instinct was to dive in, intervene, and help her out. But my heart knew better. It would be as big a mistake as helping a struggling baby bird out of its birthing shell.

 

There are things we need to discover and conquer all on our own. The shaping of our identity and the role others play in our significance are core issues we’re tasked to settle through a lifetime of experiences. It starts early and the lessons we learn early-on carry as much weight as the ones we learn later in life.

 

I’ve worn the same uncomfortable shoes my granddaughter did that day many times in my life. It’s risky business to seek an invitation into an established group. Do you remember your first day at a new school, or your first crush or first job interview? The playgrounds change, but the emotions are the same.

 

During the long quiet walk back to my car, I sensed the wheels turning in my granddaughter’s mind.

 

As much as I wanted to tell her this was an isolated experience or that she was the most special girl on earth – I knew there were other more important shaping factors in play.

 

Instead, we talked about compassion and empathy, about forgiveness and feelings.

 

The truth is, not everyone she meets will like her or want to be her friend (even though the sun rises and sets on her, in my book). Her significance is not found in the acceptance of others. It’s not even found within the security of her family. Her significance is found in Christ and who he’s created her to be.

 

He has given her, and us, everything we need to effectively (and significantly) join the game of life on any playground we find ourselves. We are secure, loved and equipped to be his. And that’s good enough.

 

 

 photo credit

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How Do You Describe God?

Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in Faith, Life, Our Hope, Truth | 18 comments

elephant collage 2

 

Someone recently asked me how I would describe God. My mind immediately went to the ancient parable of the blind men discovering an elephant for the first time.

With great fascination they each grabbed hold of part of the giant beast in order to better understand it. As one man felt its large ear gently waving to keep pests away, the man described the elephant as a soft leathery fan. Another man held onto the elephant’s tail and deduced an elephant is strong and slender like a snake. The man standing beside one of the elephant’s large legs told the others the elephant was like a tree trunk, tall and stately.

The moral of the story of course, is each one was entirely accurate and completely wrong at the same time. Trying to describe God through my limited knowledge and experiences of him is also based on a very minute view of all that he is.

Whether through my comprehension of the Bible or through personal experiences – my understanding is limited at best.

Some days he is like a fan. I feel movement and breeze when I spend time with him. I sense his involvement and intervention in my life. While other days he seems distant and rigid – stately and hard to grab onto.

And just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, things shift and my firm convictions are challenged by what I read or experience. My hold on the tail of truth whips free and I’m left grasping for a better understanding of the God I love.

He is immense to me like the elephant was to the blind men. He is untamable, no matter how long I’ve known him. He will never be fully understood by my finite mind. And yet, he is approachable and within reach.

When I feel blind I choose to stand firm. I wait for his voice, for his touch. I stand firm on the truth I know.

I know his consistent love. I know he is trustworthy. I know him even though I will never fully understand him until I see his full person, when I am free of mine.

So how would I describe him?

He is large, inexplicably large. He is gentle and strong, stronger than any force known to man. He is ever-present, no matter how distant he seems to be – he’s everywhere. He laughs and cries, he speaks and listens. He’s tender and fierce, gracious and just. He’s approachable, reasonable, multilingual and fair. He does more than love, he is love.

He is creative beyond understanding. He speaks without a voice – and yet speaks with a voice every person is able to hear. He never turns his back on the hurting. He hears, heals and patiently waits. His nature is like nothing we have known – and yet we are created in his likeness. He is simply indescribable.

The pursuit of God can never be exhausted – I am convinced there will always be more to discover about him. The tragedy is feeling satisfied with what we already know or dogmatically declaring we know it all.

I can’t help but make an attempt to describe such mystery and wonder. But please don’t take my word – discover for yourself and never, ever become satisfied with what you find.

 

 photo credit – and acknowledgment the original version is much prettier

 

 

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We Are God’s Masterpiece

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Freedom, Life, Our Hope, Truth, Words | 18 comments

wyatt

 

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

 

What a beautiful scripture this is, encouraging us to know who we are through the eyes of the one who created us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need to be reminded of this truth.

Deep within every human being is a longing to be loved and accepted. I need to remember this, because for most of us, this is not a reality we easily claim. Instead we look in the mirror and only see faults or reason for comparison. We allow the wrong voices to define who we are.

In some cases it’s our culture. But other times it’s the very people we love who wrongly define who we are. Hurtful words can deceive us into thinking we are unworthy.

Yet God created us to be people of strength and beauty, each with a divine purpose planned by Him before we were born. God alone has the right to define us.

He is the Creator. He is our designer. And this is what he says about you and me, WE ARE:

 

Created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)

Fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

Precious and honored in His sight. (Isaiah 43:4)

Redeemed and forgiven. (Ephesians 1:7)

A new creature in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Holy and blameless before God. (Ephesians 1:4, 1 Corinthians 1:30)

Chosen by God. (1 Peter 2:9)

God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

Created with purpose to do great works for God’s Kingdom. (Ephesians 2:10)

 

Will you believe these words about yourself today? Are you able to look for that same truth in your fellow man today as well?

We are God’s beloved creation, masterfully designed for his use. How absolutely amazing is that!

 

 

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Days That Shape The Soul

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Aging, Extraordinary Everyday People, Life, Remembrance | 22 comments

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If you were offered a chance to go back and revisit a day in your past, would you? Which day would you pick?

I asked myself this question yesterday as I sat watching a dozen or so wheelchair bound individuals swinging foam noodles at a balloon. I wondered what day they would pick if asked. Would a day playing the noodle game be worth revisiting – I wondered.

Our life is a masterful architectural linking of moments that together create a framework for our story, the story of our soul. No moment stands alone and yet each one carries its own weight while our heart and soul are being constructed from the inside.

Some days hold great experiences – events we wish would never end, while others are deeply sorrowful. And some days don’t seem memorable at all.

I’m not sure what day I would revisit if I could.

Happy days are easy to recall like the birth of my children, or trips to faraway places, but in the bigger scheme of things, I don’t need to relive them. They’re part of who I am and deeply rooted in my story.

I have many days I wish I could go back and do over. There are words I wish I hadn’t spoken and days poor choices affected the rest of my life. But admittedly those days are also deeply rooted in who I am.

The white haired souls at the nursing home are nearing the end of their days. Much of their time is spent alone with themselves – wandering the hallways of their memories. I asked one of the more lucid individuals which day she would revisit if she could. Her answer was simple. “Days can’t be separated from each other. Separating days would be like trying to take apart a fully baked cake”.

The mysterious soul within each of us – our eternal soul, is grown and shaped by our day to day life experiences. Whether encased in tragedy, celebration, boredom, or fairness – we become the unfolding of its masterful creation for God’s eternal use.

It may feel as though we’ve fallen victim to a faulty cake recipe. And some days might seem as though our only accomplishment is smacking a silly balloon around the room. But the truth is, every day is a gift. And the shaping of our soul is the greatest mystery we’re invited to read and write.

“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of a great mystery.”
Annie Dillard

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