Indescribable Life

2014 Light behind Cloud copy 2013 Pink Sunset Sky copySince we moved homes I have taken a lot of pictures of sunsets.
There is something miraculous in the way the light illuminates the sky with reds, oranges and purples as it progresses towards the horizon. While my words are in adequate to describe a the beauty of a sunset and my limited camera unable to capture the dramatic nature of it, I stand in awe.

I feel His presence. I worship.

As a live my less-hurried, middle-years one of the things I am most grateful for is the fact that I have had the luxury of becoming more aware of everyday glory beyond His creation. Experiencing unexplainable peace in heartbreaking situations or noticing unpredictable magnificence in the midst of messy lives has become another way I see His glory.
Being alive in the story makes me worship.
N. D. Wilson says:
To exist in this poem is a greater gift then any finite creature can imagine. 
To be so insignificant and yet still be given a speaking part, to be given the scenes that are my own, and my own only, scenes where the audience is limited to the Author Himself…, to have been crafted with at least as much care as a snowflake…, 
and to hear and feel and see and taste and smell the heavy poetry of God, that is enough“.
‘Notes from Tilt-A-Whirl’ p.38
Why then, on a daily basis, do I choose the grey lifeless world of impressing people, being concerned about outward appearances, allowing insecurities to play a part in my decisions? How often do I look only at the instant gratification offered by the material world and move towards a disappointing lesser plot?
I have heard the whisper of another way, I have seen the value of walking the indescribable path which makes no sense in this world but always, always brings hope and restoration. What then is behind this tendency to move towards the temporal?
Micha Boyett expresses my frustration this way:
It’s all so complicated, I think. What we live our lives for. How we worship. Who and what we worship. There are so many unsaid things, so many reasons God becomes shadow, slips through our fingers
‘Simplicity, Complexity and Faith’ at  ‘Deeper Story’ (www.deeperstory.com)
2014 Full Sky Sunset  copy2013 Sunset over Sea 1 - Web
I am grateful that Jesus is patient with me and that I experience Him even in the midst of situations where my focus is selfish and self-serving. I am, however, especially thankful as He draws me back to Himself and reminds me that there is another way of doing life.
When I fall into my one true Life, which is “hidden with Christ in God” something miraculous takes place. The “indescribable” locks into focus. It is then that I again find myself without adequate words to label my awareness but it isn’t a dream.
God’s kingdom intersects with my experience of this world.
In Union with Him I know joy and stand in awe.
I worship.
2014 Sunset behind Apes Hill Palms copy

Life-Giving Friendship

Why did you do all this for me?‘ he asked.
I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’
You have been my friend,‘ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

4. 2014 Life-Giving Friendship - Spiders Web Blackrock

None of us can make it through this life alone
Needing someone isn’t shameful

I am celebrating this today

Resisting, hiding, fighting myself
My friends saw me, they knew my need
They carried me
They knew me better than I knew myself
As trusted companions they chose for me
Their presence allowed me to catch a fresh vision
Of my personal history still being written
In simple, understated ways and with transforming words,
My friends reminded me that I am not alone on the journey

With a lump rising in my throat, my heart is truly in thankful

Kindred spirits walk this journey with me
Life-giving women
Who understand and encourage me
They have joined me in my story
Outsiders have become family
Offering hope

Needing and emptiness has become good
Creating a space for God to enter and love me through others

4. 2014 Life-Giving Friendship -Heather's Birthday  Feet

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow”.
William Shakespeare

50 Years Loved

3. 2014 50 Years Loved - March 6th - 50th Napkin Ring 1

I believe that deep down most peoples’ worst fear is that we will live ordinary lives that have no significance.

Or perhaps it is just mine…

Nonetheless, I have come to realise that continually asking myself the question “what am I to with the rest of my life”? is a problem.

By relentlessly asking this of myself I essentially I become more self-focused – as I try harder to do things that make me ‘acceptable’ in the eyes of myself, God, my family and friends. I am sure there is more I need to do in order to have value and be considered significant in the world, in my community and in my family. I have fallen prey to the lie that God is expecting something more from me or with-holding something from me until I live up to a standard, give of myself enough, behave or perform in a certain way. Perhaps that is why this prayer of Robert Farrar Capon’s resounds with me and makes me smile:
Lord, please restore to us the comfort of merit and demerit. Show us that there is at least something we can do. Tell us that at the end of the day there will at least be one redeeming card of our very own. Lord, if it is not too much to ask, send us to bed with a few shreds of self-respect upon which we can congratulate ourselves. But whatever you do, do not preach grace. Give us something to do, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.”

Intellectually I believe in God’s unwavering acceptance but I have realised that this ever present question, as well as my daily actions, thought patterns and concerns mean that in my heart I don’t believe I am accepted and lovable unless I am doing something.

As I approach my 50th birthday I am asking that “as I received Christ, so may I now walk in Him” (My paraphrase – Colossians 2:6). I am asking to walk one step at a time in faith – not needing to figure out for myself what my future holds but trusting that His all-sufficient grace will lead me forward at the appropriate time. This is the Gospel I need to preach to myself daily as I embrace this time of space and rest is a gift.

Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted
Brennan Manning

3. 50 Years Loved  1 Leopard Creek Deck

My word of the Year: Nourish

2012 Figs 1   2012 Figs 3 Sometime before January the word nourish hit my heart hard as my word for 2014. I have had my years of ‘breathing’ & ‘waiting’ but it strikes me that this year is going to be about more about intentionally searching out, feeding and aligning my heart with His. When the word chose me – I was not aware of the action it implied, instead my starving soul, longing for something deeply, sensed Hope in the word. Dry and parched my heart responded to the restoration implied and it settled there.

 Meditating on the concept of nourishing I began to realise that with the choice of this word I am acknowledging, something has shifted. As a verb, it involves participation and action. My word for last year, waiting was more passive. In my shattered state and burn-out mode even the thought of “choosing” would have sunk me. So, while this is just a glimmer on the horizon, it has stirred something within me and there is a sense of anticipation and excitement about actively desiring to care for my heart….

2012 Figs 2

To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean

Elizabeth David “An Omelette and a Glass of Wine”

Anticipating Christmas….

26. Anticipating Christmas - Stockings

There is always plenty to do in preparation for Christmas. Our family, however, does life this way – not just in December, but through-out the year. Living on different continents to our children and siblings mean that weeks of being apart culminate in times of coming together for intense, fun and food filled days that fly past too quickly.

Not finishing with a sense of disappointment seems a critical component to planning time together. Sadly, I have learnt that being fully prepared with lengthy “to do lists”, pre-cooked meals, planned activities doesn’t always hold off the feeling of regret or dissatisfaction at the end of happy days spent in each other’s company.

26. Anticipating Christmas - Jum

Consequently, as I have gone about preparing for Christmas I have been wondering what might contribute to a sense of discontent at the end of holidays and my thoughts have had me asking the question:

“Maybe holidays lead to disappointment when prefaced by unrealistic expectations; and so perhaps it’s better to anticipate them without a required outcome?”

The Webster definition of the adjective expect is: to think that something will probably or certainly happen or to consider (something) to be reasonable, required, or necessary.
i.e. a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

And the definition of anticipate: to think of something that will or might happen in the future; to expect or look ahead to (something) with pleasure.
i.e. a feeling of eagerness.

Whether these two words are enough to convey what I think might be one of the secrets of enjoying holidays and family time I am not certain, but I cannot find better ones that indicate the subtle but critical difference.

I have got to a point in my life where I am happy to be fully prepared for times together, but no longer feel the need to try and control the outcome of every day and activity (ok, not as much). I have precooked meals and plans on offer but I am more open than ever before in waiting to see how things unfold. I now consider time with my loved ones more important than anything else and I am not concerned about what form that takes. I want to spend my energy on being present: watching, listening, as well as participating and not on worrying about where we are or what we are doing. Said another way: I am as happy with the PROCESS of being together (with some of its mess) and less worried about ticking anything off my list or what the actual activity is.

 The joy of ‘being together’ is the reward.

Disappointments will still happen and none of this takes away the chance of pain and mess but it does allow me to receive rather than dictate outcomes; which involves my heart being far less fraught both during and when thinking back over the holiday.

Lisa Jo Baker said it this way in her Tired Mother’s Holiday Creed … “I shall not be intimidated by how the holidays, the turkey, the tree or the memories “should” be celebrated but love the people I’m celebrating with instead”. See: http://lisajobaker.com/2013/11/the-tired-mothers-holiday-creed/

2010 Family on Beach 2