Love

The Mounted Orchid

Posted by on Mar 1, 2014 in God Speaks, Love | 18 comments

thoughts of julia

 

The first time I saw it was two years ago. The image lives in a deep place in my heart.

 

I had gone for a walk after a morning filled with tearful prayer for a friend whose need felt bigger than my faith. My heart ached for her. Somehow I thought the fresh air might clear my head and provide me with a better perspective.

 

Along my path stood a tall palm tree looking like a carefully wrapped gift with slender ribbons and a big bow.

 

The delicate white orchid seemed to hang effortlessly to the palm. I was so stricken by its beauty I ran home for a camera. On my way back I tried to figure out what I’d seen. I wasn’t sure if the roots ran down the tree to reach the soil below or if it was drawing life from the tree itself through some sort of parasitical relationship.

 

I learned what looked effortless, really was not. The orchid had been intentionally placed on the tree by a gardener.

 

The mounted orchid’s life was not coming from the soil OR from the tree. The tree’s only role in the relationship was to receive the ornament. And the only job the orchid had was to cling. Over time the orchid’s roots had become one with the trunk.

 

 clinging

 

Life, I learned, was given by the air it breathed and any mist it was exposed to in the humid climate of Kauai.

 

Down the street I saw another attempt to decorate a tree with orchids. Lots of string and tape were used to help the orchid learn to cling.

 

 

will it survive

 

I thought about my desperate attempt to help my friend that morning. No matter how much compassion or prayer I offered, my friend’s situation had not changed. She needed more than I was able to give her. She needed – air, mist, life.

 

We can be the tape, wrapping our arms around our friends – helping each other hold on tight.

I appreciate my friends, who like tape and string, faithfully hold me to the tree when I can’t. I feel their loving arms around me when my grip wants to fail.

 

What an incredible Father we have who sweetly speaks through our surroundings. His language is rich and diverse. He paints his words through living examples all around us. And what a good Gardener he is to showcase our lives in just the right places as he sees fit.

 

The orchid is my gift. It’s a beautiful reminder he can be trusted. He will send the proper mist to my friend’s need when the time is right. In the meantime it’s my privilege to help her cling.

I am one piece of tape, while….

 

“Jesus is the true vine and our Heavenly Father is the gardener – apart from him, we can do nothing” John 15

 

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My Prayer for Us

Posted by on Dec 21, 2013 in Christmas, Love, Prayer | 24 comments

star cross

 

 

The older I get the more precious my family and friends become to me. I am grateful for each one of you – seriously grateful.

Like the little drummer boy, I don’t have much to offer, but what I bring today comes straight from my heart.

Please allow me to pray for us as you listen to the song, O’ Holy Night. It’s a small gift, but as I labored to put it together – many of your faces came to mind leaving a large and wonderful lump in my throat. I appreciate your kindness to me – your patience with me and your faithful friendship. I pray God’s blessing on each of us as we do life together.

My ordinary life is filled with wonder – thanks to people like you. God bless you.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

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I LOVE YOU, MOM – guest post by Leah Crook

Posted by on Dec 8, 2013 in Faith, Life, Love, Remembrance | 12 comments

flickr alan dow #2

 

Four words. I love you, Mom. I hold on to each one as all twenty-five years of him slip through the airport doors. My adventurous son. Capable and kind. How I love him.
Before heading home, I sit behind the wheel of my car, trying to see him at his destination – it’s impossible, it’s unknown, it’s not a place I understand. I hope for rain, turn the key and take the road ahead of me.
I choose grace. I choose faith.
It’s true what they say, you’ll wonder where the time went. It was just yesterday when…
And time turns around until he’s twelve, ten, eight, six, four…
I trace his footprint back to when it fit in the palm of my hand. In the middle of October, a storm rages – pouring down. The streets flood with anticipation, he takes cover beneath my heart for just a few more hours.
Early morning opens up with quiet moments – giving way to fierce anxiety. The strain of giving birth begins. Truly unprepared. Indescribable. With each excruciating pain of labor, my heart pounds to the beat of a completely new day – the day my son is born.
He brings me out of shallow places. In the very last hour, I name him Michael, and a million I love you’s are on the way.
The wheels on the highway turn with my thoughts…
I watch from white sand as he braves the waves at three… and delights over snow-cone flavors at six. Peppermint candy passes his lips as he carries a fish home from the lake in a bucket.
I let go of his hand as he enters a classroom for the first time… I feel my head press against the door, and I hear him cry on the other side. I see my hand where the blue paint is chipping… I hold on, and I let go.
I’ll do that countless times.
Motherhood is sweet – even when it’s terrifying.
Seasons pass and bring a brother to cherish, friends to meet, ties to tie, girls to love, and cars to drive. There are dreams to chase and planes to catch…
Motherhood is a whole lot of holding on… and letting go.
A few drops fall from the hot summer sky. I press play on a favorite song – I feel my shoulders drop, let go of my breath and take in the lyrics.

 

Let your heart sweetheart, be your compass when you’re lost
And you should follow it wherever it may go
When it’s all said and done, you can walk instead of run
‘Cause no matter what you’ll never be alone
Never be alone
Lady Antebellum – Compass

My mood shifts, from heavy to light. Because some words do that – they take you from one place to another.
I love you, Mom.
At twelve, ten, eight, six, four…
This morning, while the sun waits to rise, I drive. Through the known and the unknown. Through fear, anxiety, happiness, joy, freedom, failure, and victory.
I move back, I move forward, I move over.
I hold on… and I let go.
I imagine all the mothers in the world. New mothers, scared mothers, old mothers, brave mothers. Navigating roads – with kids in their cars, kids in their arms, kids in their hearts. Loving children, big and small.
Some of us are still learning when to hold on, and when to let go.
It’s an incredible journey – I’m honored to take.
Let go of fear, hold on to faith.

 

 

Leah Crook has graciously contributed to this space twice before. You can read her last post HERE . Please join me in thanking Leah for sharing her tender heart with us today.

Visit Leah at leahcrook.com

 photo credit

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ONWARD AND UPWARD by Leah Crook

Posted by on Sep 1, 2013 in Love, Our Hope, Trust | 14 comments

tiny purple flowers

 

With my baby boy curled under my ribs, we drive through the gates and up the road to make “arrangements”. We pass by rolling hills of green. The Veterans Terrace where he will be buried is on our left.

I choke on my thoughts. Coffins. Burial plots. Payment plans. My Dad has cancer.

Even the sun and all it’s golden beauty looks grey.

Onward and upward, kiddo. That’s what he says to me.

We’re greeted by a woman – I hardly notice her face. I faintly recall the nodding of her head and the chatter between the two of them.

The reality is frightening.

I simply can’t get involved in this business of dying. So, I leave the building and walk into the streets of denial – where I stay for quite a while.

She’s only twenty, I still hear him…

 

Seven years later, on the edge of morning, he passed away. I think I heard him say good-bye.

Onward and upward, kiddo.

Life brings change. Some changes we barely notice and others stare us down – like the loss of a parent.

Don’t hesitate to say I love you.

 

The wind blows ever so slightly. The sun shines over the green. I imagine I can move with the breeze – away from here. Down a winding road.

Free spirit.

But I sit with the names among the blades.

Final resting.

And in my mind I ask, over and over, where are you? I want to know what you’re doing today. What are your plans? It’s impossible silence.

Final. Finally. Resting. Why.

Who am I to question what God gives. And takes away.

Why the grass withers. The flowers fade.

Why we are deeply hurt sometimes.

And still, I dare to ask…

Do you hear me – do you hear the hurting world? When the whispers of the heart scream, do

you hear…

Underneath the sun. Below the earth. Beyond. Loved ones. At peace.

Wrap my mind around this. Final. Resting.

When the clouds open up and the sky falls on us – do you separate our tears from the rain?

And I wonder – is an illness really an illness? An accident really an accident, why do some stay? And others go…

As I run my fingers across the letters of his name – I ponder. God’s timing. Our days. Numbered.

I want to remember this as I sometimes struggle through days. None are promised. All of life is a mystery to me. We’re here and are gone. In the blink of an eye.

Sturdy, yet fragile. In the powerful hand of The Creator.

What else is there. Who remembers what they see. What they hear.

And the silence breaks.

As though he can mix my thoughts with the wind and answer in a gentle breeze.

A sunburst.

Yes, I hear you.

 

Isaiah 40:7-8 “The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

 

Dear friends, Please join me in thanking Leah for sharing her beautiful heart with us. You can also read her last post HERE or visit her website at leahcrook.com

 

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Power of Touch

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 in God Speaks, Love | Comments Off on Power of Touch

power of touch

 

 

The sense of touch could be considered a language of the soul. In some ways its volume reaches a higher decibel than our voice. It speaks with a non-threatening vocabulary, crosses cultures and sometimes penetrates the heart deeper than words.

 

Touch can whisper to anger. It shouts the sometimes difficult-to-say words like “I love and value you”. Its favorite refrain is comfort, care and consolation.

 

Touch is the precious means to connect with the world around us and to one another. The largest organ in our body was designed with wondrous intentionality. Equipped with multiple sensors our skin is more than a barrier to our insides – through it we can give and receive the language we all need to hear.

 

Yesterday I watched a young couple trapped in a heated argument. They seemed oblivious to anyone around them. Their bodies were rigid and faces tight. I felt bad for the man. Whatever he did to deserve the barrage of words he was absorbing, left him limp and deflated. The climate dramatically changed however, the moment the man reached across to touch the woman. For several minutes his hand rested on the women’s arm. Eventually it slid from her arm to her back, gently caressing her shoulder.

 

Wordless, his language changed. Eventually hers did too.

 

In a world becoming more isolated, lonely and riddled with sensory disorders we remain wired for touch. It’s amazing how few ‘skin-to-skin’ connections a person actually receives each day. Our day should be filled with touch. Our bodies yearn to feel, to emote, to be a conduit for connection. Touch lowers the shoulders of stress. Touch melts what words harden.

 

Touch speaks.

 

Like Jesus, we’ve been given the ability to offer healing through touch. And like Jesus, our touch can be restorative, influential and transformative. The gift is free and its value, eternal.

 

 

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Freedom to be Complete

Posted by on Jul 28, 2013 in Freedom, Joni and Friends, Love | Comments Off on Freedom to be Complete

Of all the lessons I learned at camp I think observing true freedom at a deeper level was most impactful. From mealtime to worship – the environment was saturated with raw and wonderful freedom.

 emma's parents enjoying a meal

 

I certainly didn’t miss planning meals during the week of camp. Three times a day we filed into the dining hall for another incredible feast. There was a sense of wholeness and family at mealtime. I was enriched to share my table with people in wheelchairs and individuals requiring assistance to eat. It was surprisingly comfortable and right.

 

Freedom during assemblies and worship was phenomenal as well. Kids were free to be themselves, noise and all. Amazingly, what seemed to be a recipe for chaos brought a refreshing liberty instead. We were free to be the complete body of Christ – every member fully accepted for who they were.

 

camp worshi[p

 

Freedom is more than lack of restraint. It’s expressive, energizing and inspirational. Webster defines freedom as, “The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance”.

 

One afternoon I watched a teen with Down syndrome spend a full hour talking into a cold microphone. He and his STM occupied an empty gym as Scotty spoke nonstop. Scotty is an orator and has something to say. I was envious of his unadulterated claim to such freedom.

 

Freedom doesn’t worry about what others think.

 

Camp fostered freedom through acceptance and the absence of judgment. Unfortunately people with disabilities aren’t always accepted and are often unfairly judged. Freedom gets stolen.

 

 

 jenny feels the bunny

 

We have the power to give freedom. I’m challenged by Scotty’s audacious ability to say what’s on his mind. It’s time we welcome people with differences into our everyday world so we’re free to be complete. We are not complete without the full spectrum of people groups we are as a society. All people need to be included; the crippled, lame, the blind and the different.  We’ll never be truly free until we’re all present and able to participate in all aspects of life together.

After all, they are us.

 

Freedom becomes comfortable the more we walk in it. I learned that at camp.

  

friends

 

Will you join me? Will you look for opportunities to empower people with disabilities to act, speak and be included without hindrance? Without ALL, we’re not complete.

 

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