Monday, July 27, 2009

Post Script

(Watching "Nemo" before our next lap around the plane.)




It was all preparation...

mine never even closed his eyes.

Friday, July 24, 2009

God's Laughter

God has the wildest sense of humor. Few people seem to know how funny He can be sometimes. So many think that He’s all stiff and serious and scary. No fun at all. Big Policeman–in-the-Sky. Mean Principal. Buzz-killer.

Perhaps because He relates so well to each of us on a uniquely individual basis, He reveals the jokester side only to those of us who have pretty sick senses of humor ourselves. He knows He can get through to us that way. We’ll get the joke.

I appreciated the one he played on me last week. It was pretty darn funny. A+.

I was traveling back to California after a brief hiatus. My loving husband upgraded my ticket to First Class because he worries about my bad back. (Actually, it’s mainly neck, but it travels south.) Anyway, I’d brought my laptop, my music, my magazines, my favorite pillow. Thought I’d do a little writing, reading, and resting.

I got settled into my cozy corner next to the window, and prepared for a relaxing flight. Got out my headset, put my mags where I could reach them, fluffed up my down pillow.

Then, she started coming down the aisle. The theme from Jaws was playing in the background as she slammed her way towards me, knocking passengers in the head with her gigantic carry-on, knocking their coffee all over them with her ample hips.

She plopped down in the seat next to me, hitting me with the carry on. Moaning and grumbling to herself/me under her breath, she grabbed the emergency instruction card in front of her and began fanning herself frantically. I politely greeted her, and immediately picked up my magazine.

From the front, the flight attendant addressed her. “Is he traveling with you?” I craned my neck to see a tiny boy several rows up, blocking the aisle while trying to climb up the side of a seat.

(“No way, God, no,” I entreated. “You’re kidding, right?”)

“Yeah, he’s with me,” my seatmate answered. “Well, is there someone else in your party? Who is in charge of this child?” The flight attendant seemed slightly out of sorts. My neighbor said something under her breath. The flight attendant misunderstood, and waited for the child’s mother to show up. When no one appeared, she brought him back to Grandma.

Grandma placed the wiggling little bundle of joy on the console/armrest between us. He immediately turned his body around until he faced me squarely, his cute little tootsies in my seat. I smiled at him, and he gave me back an adorable grin. My heart melted. Then, he started kicking me. Hard.

As I’m saying, “No, no, honey,” Granny gets out a large Panda Bear. He takes the Panda bear and immediately hits me in the face with it. As I hold Panda Bear, little angel decides he wants to get down and play. He twists and turns and wiggles and kicks as Granny tries to restrain him, alternating threats of spanking with smothering embraces. Finally, she grabs a bag of potato chips out of the bag. (Which is taking up all the space under our feet...no way that puppy’s going under the seat!) Potato chip crumbles mingling with drippy nose matter are smeared on my sleeve as the Angel does 360’s in his granny’s lap. I fumble for my IPhone and try to get Sesame Street up on YouTube. Just as Elmo appears, the flight attendant announces that it’s time to turn off all electronic devices.

We haven’t even left the runway yet.

***************

Okay, the idea here is that the infant or toddler gets to ride free if he shares the seat with an adult. Otherwise, you have to pay full-price for another ticket, when the likelihood is that the child will spend very little time in the seat.

But trying to hold on to a 20-month-old who doesn’t want to be held is like trying to hold on to an eel. He was in my seat half the time, playing with my hair, dumping my snack mix on the floor, spilling juice, hitting me with Panda. When Granny would grab him and try to make him settle down, he'd start screaming and kicking the seat in front of him.

Finally, the man in that seat speaks to the flight attendant. Everyone in the cabin has had enough.

The model-beautiful flight attendant comes back for a chat with my seatmate. She is not warm and fuzzy. She refers back to the fact that the child was unattended when boarding the plane. Then she pretends to speak to the child, saying things like, “We want to give the nice lady beside you her own space.” Grandma gets it.

When she leaves, Granny turns to me and says, “She’s getting on my nerves.” Then, with much greater volume, “She’s getting on my NERVES.” I’m thinking, “That should be singular.” It’s obvious that Granny is on her last one.

Granny fumes and mumbles under her breath for a few minutes. Then she (loudly) calls for the flight attendant to come back. My stomach starts hurting.

When the exasperated attendant returns, Granny starts giving it to her. She’s in her face. The flight attendant starts turning a little red, but stays completely under control as she replies to the accusations flung at her in rapid order.

Then Granny snaps.

“Shut up! You just shut up!” Granny screams. “Who do you think you are, Miss High-and-Mighty? You better just SHUT UP!”

“You are not helping your case,” ‘Miss High-and-Mighty’ replies, as she returns to the front of the plane to fill out a report on Granny. You could hear a pin drop in the cabin.

The man across the aisle removes his earphones, which have been of no help in blocking out the unpleasant exchange, and bravely taps Granny on the arm. “I know you’re upset,” he tells her, “but I was on a flight recently where the police were waiting at the gate for a passenger. You’d better be careful.” Granny starts to rev up again, so the man quickly puts his headset back on and pretends to be working on some important business project.

I’m totally tachycardic by this point. Ignoring little Kobe’s kicks, I lean against the window and pretend to be asleep.

Twenty minutes before the end of our almost-5-hour flight, the little boy finally goes to sleep in his grandmother’s lap. He looks absolutely angelic. A beautiful child.

The last thing in the world I want to do is disturb him. But, unfortunately, I can’t hold it any longer. I have to hike up my skirt, stand up in my seat, and pole vault across the pair to go to the bathroom.

“Why me, God?” I ask on the way to the toilet.

I hear God chuckling up a storm. The angels can’t contain their grins.

“Judge not, lest ye be judged” echoes through the heavens.

Even I have to admit it’s pretty funny. I try to smooth things out with the flight attendant when I come out of the bathcloset. I tell her I have empathy for the woman.

Tomorrow, I’m going to be the granny traveling cross country by myself with a 20-month-old male child.

Pray for me.


Actually, you’d better pray for the person sitting next to us.

***************

“And the Father will laugh,
Laugh ‘til He cries...”
Sarah Masen

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sweetest Words

It’s not hard for me to feel guilty about something all the time.

I feel guilty about not being a better daughter.

I feel guilty about not being a better mother.

I feel guilty about not being a better wife...

friend,

neighbor,

correspondent,

philanthropist,

recycler,

exerciser,

housekeeper,

human being.

To paraphrase Brennan Manning: “I can feel bad about feeling good....I feel guilty about not feeling guilty enough!”

I’d say that it’s the curse of the Southern Woman, passed down through the generations like a prized antique, but I’ve learned that we don’t own exclusive rights. Just watch an old Woody Allen movie.

Subconsciously, a lot of us labor under a heavy load of existential guilt for not being perfect people...for not measuring up to some impossibly high external standard. No matter how hard we try, we never seem to be able to rack up enough points on the Great Scorecard In the Sky. Our best just isn’t good enough.

The seductive inner whisperers taunt us with lengthy accounts of our inadequacies. Behind the confident put-together exterior, an ashamed child hides in the dark corner of the mind. Eve’s lurking in there, too, still trying, unsuccessfully, to cover herself with a fig leaf.

Guilt.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about everybody. I’m sure there are lots of people who are spiritually and emotionally healthier. Still others don’t feel guilty enough... like sociopaths, for example. A sense of guilt isn’t always a bad thing. There are times when we may even need to let ourselves wallow in it for a while.

There’s a huge difference between false guilt and true guilt. As human beings, each of us is deeply, truly guilty at one time or another, because we are all flawed. None of us is perfect, “no, not even one.” (Me least of all. The only reason why St. Paul was able to refer to himself as “the chief of sinners” is because I wasn’t born yet.) Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to experience fully the sharp stab of conviction which leads to acknowledgement and change. That type of guilt is good and necessary. In our society, the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction of our Puritan forebears that the far greater danger lies in rationalizing and glossing over our wrongdoing (or even wrongthinking), rather than repenting of it.

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?”(Rom. 2:4) Without true repentance, there can be no restoration of broken relationship.

Nothing is more damaging than that.

But let’s get back to good old neurotic guilt. Of that genre, none is more lethal than the proverbial Mother’s Guilt. Whatever it is, it’s always the Mother’s fault: “Oh, if only I’d made little Johnny join Cub Scouts, maybe he wouldn’t be in San Quentin now”...“If only I’d let Susie get braces, maybe she wouldn’t have become a pole dancer”...“If I hadn’t taken his pacifier away too soon, maybe Junior wouldn’t be in rehab ”...“Should’ve breast-fed”...“Shouldn’t have breast-fed so long”...“Why didn’t I make her marry a doctor????”.... “Should have forced them to take piano!”..."Why’d I make her clean her plate every night?”...“Why oh why oh why did I make him wear that monogrammed john-john to his 6th birthday party???”

Just in case we’re not already hard enough on ourselves, our children make sure that we know it’s all our fault if they turn out warped. “NOBODY else’s Mother makes them do that!!!!!” “EVERYBODY else on the whole planet gets to do XYZ.” And my personal favorite: “My friends all think you’re crazy!!!”

Kidding aside, I think that most of us wonder at one time or another whether we couldn’t have been better role models of the type of virtues we’d like for our children to exhibit. We ask ourselves how often our unspoken message was, “Do as I say, not as I do!” When our children grow up to reflect those characteristics we like least in ourselves, there’s a tendency to place the blame exclusively on our faulty parenting skills, rather than on simple DNA. Could a trait like innate stubbornness be a matter of chromosomes? Impatience? Shyness? Melancholia? Hyperactivity? Addiction? Lefthandedness?

Nature or Nurture?

I’ll never forget the story about the woman who went to her preacher to ask advice about her prodigal son. “I tried my best, I really did,” she whimpered. “I taught him manners and morals. I read him the Bible every night, made him go to church every time the doors were open. I went to every ball game, every school play, every everything! I gave him all I could...everything I had. But he still rebelled and ran off. Now he’s on drugs and doing God knows what with God knows whom. Please tell me, Pastor, what did I do wrong???” The preacher looked her straight in the eye, but not without compassion. “Who was God’s first child?” he queried. “Adam?” “Un-hunh. How’d he turn out?” A pause.

“What did God do wrong?” the pastor asked her. “How’d He screw up?”

***************

Classic “Mother’s Guilt” takes on a whole new dimension when there’s a sick child involved.

Indescribable.

Not long before Katherine’s AVM rupture, a child we know was diagnosed with cancer. When I asked a mutual friend how the mother was doing, she told me something I found shocking at the time. She said the mother felt as if it were her fault in some way. The actual words were, “She thinks it’s because of her sin.”

Now this mother is not, to my knowledge, some big world-class sinner. (Not even close to my category.) She is a sweet, gentle, caring soul. A wonderful, conscientious mother.

But it is tempting to feel that you are being punished in some way when your child gets sick. And when some of us examine our lives, we see plenty that might deserve punishment. Remember, everything’s always the mother’s fault. A couple of remarks I received seemed to reinforce this idea in my head. People can say the strangest things at the strangest times. But the seed was planted.

After Katherine’s initial crisis (life or death?) had passed, I had time to get on the internet and try to learn a little about this monstrosity that almost killed her. I had never heard of an “AVM” before. Actually, I didn’t even really understand the effects of a brain bleed.

On the National Institutes of Health site, I read that “Brain AVMs occur in less than 1% of the population. They are more common in males than females.” Wow, how’d we win those odds? Then, the killer: “Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are defects of the circulatory system that are generally believed to arise during embryonic or fetal development or soon after birth.”

There’s a whole truckload of potential in-your-face guilt just in that one sentence. The “WHAT-DID-I-DO-WRONG” question reverberates with hideous, fresh meaning in this scenario.

Did I take too many aspirin or drink too much wine before I knew I was pregnant??? Did I sniff some toxic fumes...inhale second-hand smoke...get too close to the gas pump??? Did I think negative thoughts that were transmitted to the little baby bud in utero??? Did I work out too hard? Not take enough vitamins? Eat something I shouldn’t have eaten? Did I throw up too much? Not gain enough weight? Maybe that was some kind of terrible virus instead of morning (i.e. “All Day”) sickness. Did I pass along something damaging through my breast milk? WHAT DID I DO WRONG?????

IS THIS SOMEHOW BECAUSE OF MY SIN?

I have a vague memory of the first time poisonous thoughts like those started churning around in my head like squirrels in a cage. I think I was walking back to the hotel from the hospital...a frequent time for reflection in those days. I guess God got sick of listening to all that garbage. Suddenly, a version of this story bolted into my brain:

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:1-3)


***************

Sometimes I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave over all of my children and instantaneously fix everything that’s wrong with them. But the fight and the victory are ultimately more enriching for them, and more glorifying to God, than the quick-fix of my imagination. Recently, I learned that you have to tear muscle down in order to build it up. The falling down and the getting back up again...the failures and the little triumphs...these are what build spiritual muscle. The thought occurred to me that sometimes our own strength must be torn down in order for us to be able to accept and embrace His far greater strength. So...maybe even our worst parenting failures are like barbells that God can use to get our children in shape. When we try to make everything easy for them...lift everything for them...we prevent their progress. Our need to think of ourselves as ‘perfect parents’ may even impede “the work of God from being displayed in their lives.”

I have to continuously remind myself that I’m just a temporary guardian, anyway.

They’re His forever.

***************

Okay, here’s one last thing I’ve felt a little guilty about: I never clarified the whole Romans 8 thing.

This is what really happened. For a number of reasons, I decided to home school my middle daughter in the 8th grade. She may not have learned a darn thing, but, to this day, we both consider it to have been a successful endeavor. One of the subjects was “Bible.” I was gleeful about having this opportunity to pour some Word into her head. She had to listen to me, because I was the teacher and I got to grade her! After rambling around for a while, I decided we both needed to develop some mental and spiritual discipline through memorization. The book of Romans has always been very special to me, because it was during the study of that book that I finally GOT IT...the light bulb switched on. So it was a natural choice for our study.

Using flash cards, we memorized a verse at a time. We started with the last third, beginning with my favorite verse: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Then we tackled the second third. (“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”) We never made it to the first...school was out for summer before we got to it.

Katherine was jealous that her sister knew something she didn’t...or maybe it was just that she thought the whole thing was a good idea. For whatever reason, Katherine memorized the latter part of Romans, too. After the AVM rupture, the story got out that we could all recite the entire chapter by heart. Thus was the “Romans 8 Movement” begun in Katherine’s honor, started by J.T. and Syd, some dear friends who are wonderful musicians.

I’ve always felt a wee bit guilty that I never explained that we can’t recite the WHOLE chapter. I’ve thought about all those sweet people, slaving away to remember it all.

But I don’t feel guilty about it anymore. They have received a wonderful gift.

The very first verse of that chapter contains the sweetest words I’ve ever heard. These are the words that come to comfort whenever those sickening little guilt goblins try to haunt me now:

"THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION..."

However we condemn ourselves...whatever lies we believe...whatever baggage we carry around like it’s vintage Louis Vuitton...

There is no condemnation.

God does not condemn us.

Our guilt has already been paid for.


May these words echo through our minds until they reverberate down into our very souls...


no condemnation...

NO condemnation....

NO CONDEMNATION.



Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.


Alleluia.

***************

“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared." (John 8:9-11)

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.” (Romans 7:21-8:3 NLT)


***************

A couple of notes:

*After 90-something blog posts, this is the first time I've felt led to do anything like this: I'd like to encourage you to forward the post to someone who might need to hear it...maybe someone who doesn't know us from Adam, and has never visited the sites before. I can't shake the impression that I need to ask that favor this time.

*Thank you so much, Laurel and Angie, for trying to help this old technophobe! I played around with it forever....can't even remember now what finally did the trick. (I need a computer class!) But the difficulty in posting just reinforced the idea that I needed to make the above request.

*If you haven't already done so, please visit J.T. and Syd's "Romans 8 Movement" site. They are fantastic musicians and wonderful, faithful friends. The site is:

www.romans8movement.com


Monday, July 13, 2009

Life. Support. Music.


A few nights ago, I came across a wonderful PBS documentary called Life. Support. Music. It is the story of Jason Crigler, a young musician who collapsed on stage after suffering a severe AVM rupture. His case is similar to Katherine's in many ways, although her long-term effects were more severe because of the number of cranial nerves that were damaged or severed in her surgery.

Parts of the movie were hard to watch, as it brought back some painful memories. But the overall tone is full of love, hope, and courage. It is an amazing story.

L.S.M. is a very graphic depiction of the effects of this often tragic medical condition. I recommend the following PBS link to anyone who is interested in learning more about AVMs. There is a trailer from the film, plus other valuable information and resources.

http://www.pbs.org/pov/lifesupportmusic/background.php

If anyone knows how to put a song from your ITunes library on the blog, let me know. I downloaded a good song by Jason called, "She Waits For An Answer." (Where is my technology assistant, anyway??)


Hope everyone had a good holiday, and is savoring the joys of summertime!

Love, Kim


(p.s. I'm hoping to publish a new blog sometime in the next day or two, God willing.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Case of Mistaken Identity


(This was started on June 26. I know everyone is probably WAY oversaturated by now, but I'm still going to post it for some reason.)

***************

Yesterday, I had a Forest Gump moment.

My husband and I took James out to lunch at "The Stand," our favorite college dive in Westwood. As we ate our burgers, we heard what seemed to be an unusual number of helicopters hovering overhead. We thought that: a.) either a lot of folks were getting new hearts or lungs, or b.) there must be some major celebs in the neighborhood because of the LA Film Festival. (Johnny Dep and Christian Bale had visited just the day before.) Then we heard something about Michael Jackson being rushed to UCLA on the restaurant TV.

After lunch, we strolled James through the neighborhood. People were running towards the hospital. A crazy man ran by screaming profanity at the crowds on the sidewalk. As we neared Ronald Reagan, we could see newsvans screeching up to the curb. My husband told me to get up close to see what was going on.....probably because he knew I would, anyway. Somehow, I ended up directly in front of the press conference mikes, just behind the cameramen. I felt like Forrest at the White House. No one asked me to move. I guess they thought I had a reason to be there, as it was obvious I was neither a student nor a hospital employee. It was a fascinating spot for observation.

A line of recognizable reporters from every major (and some minor) networks stood or sat on the grass three feet in front of me. The women were powdering their shiny noses, fluffing their hair, and licking their lips. Rumors swirled around.... cardiac arrest, coma, death??? A sea of cell phones and cameras of all shapes and sizes were swaying in the air. New crews arrived continuously, holding up badges and pressing their way through the crowd. There was an air of excitement and anticipation.

I stood there like a little mouse with my mental tape recorder going, pressing words and images into my mind. My husband laughed at me from the periphery, where he was entertaining James. He lifted him up over the crowd to see me, and then motioned for me to get back to playing reporter. Sometimes he likes to egg me on.

“F*** this, f*** that, f***the other” the cameraman closest to me spat out to an executive-looking type. He was venting about something that had happened earlier in the day. As he shook his head in disgust, he saw me looking at him. By this point, the crowd had swelled from behind, pushing those of us in the front closer together. He gave me a little shrug of apology. “I guess it’s been a pretty intense day for you,” I said, “First Farrah, and now this.” “It always comes in three’s,” he sagely replied. “Ed McMahon,” another observer threw out. “That was yesterday,” the cameraman and I answered simultaneously. “But it’s always in three’s,” the jaded cameraman repeated direly.

A skinny newsreporter, sweating from the intensity of it all, looked around at those of us in her vicinity, obviously desperate for something...anything...to put on the air. At this point, no official hospital spokesperson had come out to confirm the death reports. “Would any of you be willing to share your feelings right now? I know it’s a very difficult time,” she pleaded. I looked down at the ground. My mama always taught me, “If you can’t say something nice...” As a young woman enthusiastically emoted her grief and adulation into the mike, I said to myself, “The tragedy of this life began long before today.”

***************

It was hard to avoid juxtaposing that scene against another:

A crowd at UCLA Hospital. A patient in critical condition...maybe dying. People waiting for news...any news.

But this crowd was praying, not licking its chops in anticipation of titillating fodder for our celebrity-obsessed world to feast upon....waiting for some juicy ratings-boosting morsel. Instead of standing up on tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the elements of a tragic demise, that crowd was down on its knees...or prostrate....pleading heaven to stop it in its tracks. Instead of pushing each other to get closer to the center of action, people gently held each other in comforting embrace, or held hands in fervent prayer.

Katherine lived.

***************

To me, the pivotal tragedy of Michael Jackson’s life was one of identity.

He never knew who he really was.

He lived behind masks and veils. He was so uncomfortable in his own skin that he permanently changed the hue with which God had embued it. He hated the image of the man in the mirror so much that he inalterably altered it.

He seemed to have absolutely everything in the world except for peace, self-acceptance, and freedom. Everything money could buy, yet nothing at all.

Like Michael’s, Katherine’s visage has also been dramatically altered, but not of her own choosing. She was just fine with the face she had, although its contemplation was not a top priority for her. As I've said before, she spent less time in front of a mirror than almost any woman I know.

In a bit of fortuitous foreshadowing, Katherine was led to teach a lesson on “Identity” shortly before her AVM rupture. Teachers know that no one learns the lesson as well as the one who prepares it. It is a great fringe benefit of teaching. I love to teach on subjects about which I know very little, as it forces me to learn something new. (I’m lazy, and probably wouldn’t do it otherwise.)

So, I thank God that Katherine learned her lessons well. Her head knowledge has been put to the test by her life experiences, and has held true for her. She knows that her identity is not based on her physical appearance, her abilities, her talents, or even her God-given gifts. Her identity is, first and foremost, this: The very, very well-beloved, beautiful, precious, special child of a lovely, loving, merciful Father. She is the daughter of a King. And Katherine has had a unique opportunity to learn first-hand that she is loved totally unconditionally, just exactly as she is: whether strong or weak, rich or poor, capable or incapable, functional or nonfunctional, “doing” or not doing.

My experience of the 25th was a good reminder for me. Sometimes it’s easy to feel envious of those who “have it all,” according to the standards of the world. To wish that we, too, had the ability to go wherever we want to go, do whatever we want to do, buy whatever we want to buy whenever we want to buy it. As a culture, we love to put people who can up on pedestals. (And love toppling them down even more.) But Death is the Great Democratizer. The ground is level there. We enter the world naked, helpless, and alone, and we exit the same way. Celebrities and homeless people, movie stars and prostitutes, billionaires and trash collectors...average housewives from Georgia...

I think that the greatest tragedy of Michael Jackson’s life was that he didn’t seem to know how completely loved he was by the one who made him. The adoration of millions and millions of fans couldn’t make up for that.


Nothing can.

***************

“For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25,esv)

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (II Cor. 3:18,niv)

“...in Heaven everything is turned upside-down,
cuz the last will be first in that celestial town...” (excerpt from The Jesus Rap)

***************

(*A final note: Please know that I intend no disrespect or judgment of any kind. I am simply making observations and stating personal opinions. I'm not God, and I certainly don't know everything. I believe that every life is sacred. I pray that, at the end, Mr. Jackson found the peace which seemed to elude him during his lifetime.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One picture's worth a thousand...



I'm sorry that I've had no time to finish writing anything lately.

Sometimes "Full Time Job" is an inadequate description.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this amazing picture with you. It was sent to me by Lyndsey Williams, a friend of my daughter Amie. She took it at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. After she returned home from her trip, she read the blog entitled "Wasteland Grace." Shortly after, I received a package of beautiful cards with the picture and these words from the post on the front: "Just ahead, I see a little yellow flower of hope, peeping out from beneath a desert rock."

I cried when I saw them.

The by-word on Lyndsey's email is "Hope dies last."


Amen and amen.


***************


"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Rom. 5:5)