Tuesday, December 30, 2014

God in the Ghetto

Sometimes in life everything seems right.  So incredibly right.

But, it turns out you are wrong.  So incredibly wrong.

Other times, everything seems wrong.  So incredibly wrong.

But it turns out, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

I can imagine the magi chatting away, following the star, reflecting on the bizarre encounter with the king and his devoted entourage. 

How could they have been wrong? Isn’t the king supposed to be born in the palace surrounded by glamour and pomp, guards and privilege?

But, clearly, not this king.

They also anticipated the culmination of their journey. 

What is it going to be like? How will they feel when they finally see him face to face? Could they touch him?

 They could feel they were getting close. They could feel it in their bones… in their marrow.

Then the star suddenly stopped.  They looked at the modest shack before them, at each other and then back to the star.

This can’t be right…

I agree. It’s way too… shabby. Too plain. No king is ever going to be born here.

Yea, let’s just move on.

But the star. It  seems stuck. It’s not moving.


I don’t feel right moving on without the star. 

Me neither.

Well, at least we can check it out. We were wrong once. We could be wrong again….

Just then the door opened and a man walked out. Behind him, in the light of the setting sun they saw a young woman holding a baby in her arms.  

They looked around again – the stuck star, the simple house, the man and the woman. And even though everything seemed so wrong, so incredibly wrong – no pomp, no glamour, no guards no protectors - they knew - knew it in their bones, knew it in their marrow, that they have arrived at the right place at last. 

This post is the eight installment in the Magi-cal Journey series.

Lost and Found

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Peace on Earth 1914-2014

“Do not be afraid; 
for behold, I bring you good news of 
great joy 
which will be for all the people; 
for today in the city of David 
there has been born for you a Savior, 
who is Christ the Lord. 
This will be a sign for you: 
you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and 
lying in a manger.” 
And suddenly there appeared with the angel 
a multitude of the heavenly host 
praising God and saying, 
“Glory to God in the highest, and 
on earth peace among men 
with whom He is pleased.”

The Story Behind Sainsbury's Christmas Ad:

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Baby Shower Like No Other

What about the gift?

What gift?

The gift – for the baby! We can’t go to see the baby empty-handed!

Oh yea! What shall we bring him? Diapers? They’ll need a lot of those…

Nooo – bringing diapers to the king???? Are you kidding me?

But what else? Maybe we can pick up something from Toys’R’Us along the way…Thomas the Train…?

It must be special… really special. Because this Baby is special. I mean, I know that EVERY baby is special… but this one…He is the future king!

How about gold? The purest gold there is…

That's a thought... gold is an appropriate gift for the king… it represents power and purity and riches… yes, we’ll bring some gold for him… but what else?

What do you mean, ‘What else?’  Isn’t gold enough?            

Nooo… I don't know... it doesn’t seem that bringing just gold is enough… There’s gotta be something more…

'Just gold'?!! 'Something more'?!! That’s the best we got! You can’t better the best.

Yes you can. How’bout…frankincense?

Frankincense?!!! Have you lost your mind? Bring frankincense to a baby? As a gift? Do you really want to go into history under the term 'weird'? 

Well… maybe he has a point… babies stink sometimes, you know…

That's NOT what I meant, like a Glade air freshener or cat litter granules… I thought of it more like the scent of... the way you smell the rose... or the bread... or the Presence ... the way you can smell a prayer in a person without a word...

They all fell silent. Listening - to their breathing.  In and out… and then it came to them… the scent.  

For there is nothing quite like the scent to evoke… memory… 

... to stir…mystery… 

... to transcend time and space, tangible and intangible and bring them together right here, right now, in perfect unity. 

The way prayer does. 

Instantly they knew it. 

Yes! We must bring along frankincense – of the purest kind… from the mature tree… that has grown out of the rock… and shed its tears into the purest form of frankincense… For this baby brings - they look up to the star -  the heaven and the earth together like no one else… It’s a perfect gift for him.

Well, then, we are all set now.  We’ll bring along gold and frankincense.

There’s something more…

More??? There’s nothing more.  We are done with the shopping list. Plus there is no room in the luggage.

Just one more thing…one more thing we must bring to him…

 This post is the seventh installment in the Magi-cal Journey series.

Lost and Found

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lost and Found

If you never had anything – anything at all – lost, and you thought that it was lost forever…

A house key, for example.

Or a wallet…

a library book…

a wedding ring…

Or perhaps…

your health...

or a dream…

or a child…

or mind…

or heart…

or… hope…

If you never had anything lost, and then assumed – as we often do...

when we are enveloped in the molasses-thick-darkness...

when we are worn out from the long journey of searching-and-not-finding...

You assumed that it would never be found again…

And then, you found it!

Or rather, if we are willing to admit the truth, it would be more like IT  found YOU!

If none of these ordinary human losses ever touched you…

you have no idea...

you have absolutely no clue...

what the tired travelers

wrapped in darkness and foreboding,

shivering on the steps of Herod’s mansion,

the heavy doors slammed shut behind them...

what they felt

when they saw

the lost star.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Uncontainable Joy of Christmas

What was THAT all about?, said Herod, as the palace doors slammed behind the visitors, and immediately called his national security council and his entire entourage of advisers. And they put their heads together in order to ensure the most efficient elimination of this new threat to the kingdom. That night their strategy for elimination of the impostor to the throne morphed into a tactical plan for a mass murder.

What was THAT all about?, said the religious know-it-alls, not little offended that some presumptuous foreigners dared intrude on their privileged turf. If there was anything to this preposterous story about the birth of the Messiah, wouldn’t God reveal it to US first? And they quoted the chapter and the verse, and nodded their heads and gave a hearty approval to each other and to the deranged king that this must be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.

What was THAT all about?, said the weary travelers as the palace doors slammed behind them. They shivered in the cold and in the chilly foreboding of something they couldn’t quite understand and they lifted their weary eyes to the wide open sky.

No clue… but… LOOK!  

Shut out and enveloped by the molasses-thick darkness, their eyes grew big… and then BIGGER.

Their star was back!

The star that launched them on their ridiculous journey…

The star that lured their childhood dreams out of their sleepy hearts and into the open… that made them look like fools, leaving everything behind as they reached towards something they didn’t know what…

The star was back.

They rubbed their eyes, and looked at teach other, and at the star, forgetting all about the strange conversation inside the king's mansion, and the palace door slammed-shut behind their backs... and even the bumpy journey of a million camel-steps... because, suddenly, none of it really mattered in the light of the star's return.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Catastrophe of Christmas

Was it an honest mistake, an incalculably costly six-mile overshoot, or were the Magi actually led to knock on the door of the vicious king, to ask him, of all people, where the new king was?

Did they realize how threatening their inquiry was to Herod? Could they pick up on the subtle non-verbals, the surreptitious looks exchanged, the eyebrows raised… ? Could they feel the fear ripple through the room… ? Could they see through the evil king’s religious charade...?

Go and make careful search for the Child… and when you find Him, come back and tell me so I too can worship Him.

Yea, sure, your royal highness… you are most welcome to join us, but if not, we’ll do all the work on behalf of  your majesty  and make it really REALLY easy, really REALLY convenient for you to worship this new king… You don’t have to lift your little finger… just sit there on your royal throne and we’ll bring this new king to you on a platter so to speak….

How did Herod's words sound to the weary travelers after they have braved maybe six thousand miles, watching thousand sunrises and sunsets and everything in between – feeding and watering the animals, caring for their saddle sores, carrying their wounded hearts along with the gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh…? How did they ring in their ears… these words of cheap worship that oozed like molasses off the king’s lips?

And what about all those religious know-it-alls who sent them off on the last bit of their long journey without actually joining them? 

Sometimes there is a greater distance between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, than between Bethlehem and the furthest end of the earth.

Were they led by God to this king and his entourage so their true heart can be exposed or was it an honest mistake?

Either way, the results were catastrophic. Their little deviation resulted in the worst kind of nightmare any parent could imagine... the shedding of innocent children’s blood at the hand of the deranged king. 

Was it a premonition of the catastrophic price the innocent baby in Mary's arms, the innocent Lamb of God would soon pay to ransom all the thieves and liars, all the murderers and adulterers and all the religious know-it-alls of this broken world?

This post is the fourth installment in the Magi-cal Journey series.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The GPS Malfunction

Some time ago I needed to drive our son to a concert venue I wasn’t familiar with. In the past, I would have pulled out a map, pored over it until I figured out exactly where I was going and how to get there. I might even take notes, mark all the turns and calculate how long it would take to ensure timely arrival.

But now, we have a GPS.  All I need to do is plug in the address, push the ‘go’ button and, voila! – we are there! Once in the car, I turn my brain off and I religiously follow the voice of the woman giving me turn-by-turn directions until she says:

You have arrived at 1600 bla-bla-bla

I look around and even with my brain off, I know she is wrong!  

No we did NOT, you idiot! I blurt out. We are in the middle of some woods with a large retention pond sprawled in front of me and no concert hall anywhere in sight.

Then I spot a MAYS sign and then another.  I continue following the signs until I see the front door, familiar faces and small children hauling giant instruments. 

Now we have really arrived!

Sometimes I wonder if the astronomers from the east had a malfunctioning GPS that led them to the Herod’s palace instead of the baby in the manger?

Or as they approached their destination, did they assume that ‘they can take it from there’, figuring out that the king’s palace is the most appropriate, most logical place to look for the newborn king?

Did they caravan right past the modest dwelling where Mary and Joseph were cuddling their baby boy in the shadows of the great metropolis?  

Who could fault them for choosing the lights and the glory of the city known as the epicenter of the religious and political power of the region over the quiet, stinky animal shelter? 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Long Journey of Nevertheless

We can only speculate how long was the astronomers’ journey. It could have been up to two years.

Take a measuring rod and stretch it back about two years. Mark the day. Seven, or even eight hundred day-steps into the past, no need to haggle over it.

Two years, plus or minus, is a long journey. Do you remember 2012? Followed by 2013?!!! And here we are, at the end of 2014!

For me, some of those day-steps felt like a thousand-year leaps. Some, exactly the same, except in the opposite direction. I also had days when my lead-laden legs were barely moving, treading murky waters, no solid ground underneath, no rock, no pebble, no measurable progress. Then I would let myself sink from sheer exhaustion only to discover that I don't have to keep my head up all the time...My head's under water but I'm breathing fine...

Two years is a long time.  Enough time to cradle a birth and casket a death.  Time to say our vows in marriage. Time to heart-break our promises in divorce. Time to lose friends and make new friends. Time to succeed.  Time to fail.

No matter how comfortable your transportation is, two years is long enough time to give us all saddle-blisters.

Are we there yet?

Are you sure we are not lost? I’d thought we’d already be done with this trip by now…

All the virgin-journey excitement, the starter thrill of novelty evaporates into fumes after two years. The weariness settles like dust on the shoes… on the soul.

We really don’t know the details of the astronomers road trip. All we know is that they pushed through - and kept pushing through - whatever attacked them from the outside and from the inside. The fear, the doubt, discouragement, setbacks, fatigue. The relentless extremes of desert.

Once they left their home, everywhere they went, they were foreigners. Foreign was their language and foreign were their ways.

They fought back the lapping tongues of skeptics that eventually caught up with them and the raging rivers of tears they left behind... and they kept going… and going… and going… Until they finally arrived!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

When Destiny Knocks on Your Door

They must have been super-excited at the beginning of the journey

Packing the bags, double-checking their mile long ‘bring-along’ list, securing the valuables, loading up. Energized by the promise of an epic adventure awaiting them made the teary good-byes and the skeptics' looks more bearable.

Somebody said that the call of God is like the call of the sea— no one hears it except the person who has the nature of the sea in him. For them it was the call of the starry sky… It came as the bright Star - star like no other. 

They recalled the first time they spotted it on the ever-changing yet almost painfully predictable dark-blue velvet. Some called them the star-gazers – the dreamers, but they were simply mesmerized by what their heavenly science was both hiding and revealing. The vastness and proportions.  The empty and the beauty. The depth of the unknown. The face-off of the endless boring with the eternal glory. But, when they first saw it, they knew they were onto something.  Something really big - even by astronomers' measurements.  

Only 'the big' wasn't just 'out-there'.  It also awakened something they didn't know existed, buried deep inside, that grew and grew filling their minds and souls, consuming them from the inside out. They knew they had to follow.

It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, or rather, once-in-many-a-lifetime opportunities. The culmination of everything that they were and their lives' work - intersecting with cosmic history-in-the-making.

When destiny knocks on your door, ignoring isn't an option. 

So, they set off the way lovers and pilgrims do.  Blind and foolish, or perhaps having an extra eye to see what nobody else could see, tuned into a deeper and higher wisdom that somehow escapes the rest of us ordinary folks.

Still, they couldn't have the foggiest idea of what they were really getting themselves into.

None of us ever does when we say ‘yes’ to the call.

They had to trust that the One who started them on this journey will be there not only at the end of it, but every inch along the way.

This post is the first installment of the Magi-cal Journey series.

Lost and Found

Monday, December 01, 2014

Split-Screen Owner's Manual

Our ancient made-in-the-90's working TV is up for grabs along with a digital converter box and remote control. It may take a crane and a tractor-trailer to get it out of our house but hey it's free.

The faithful limping giant was replaced by a Black Friday paper-thin cereal-box deal you can lift with your little finger. 

It’s the dawn of a new era in our family.

Without a trace of nostalgia, our tech-savvy 21st century kids were showing us off all that the new TV can do.

Mom, now we can play split-screen Minecraft together…!

And we can use Daddy’s  phone as a remote controller, see… And our friends can… They were bursting with the can-do excitement, interrupting each other, fire-hosing us with all this incredible information about tremendous potential of the new family acquisition.

I was getting dizzy.

How do you know all this? I ask quite impressed by the lightweight gizmo and all the technical and operating knowledge my kids already have about it.

We read the Owner’s Manual, they grin in unison, clearly pleased with themselves. But, that's not all. There is so much more…

The Owner’s Manual?!!! Who in the world reads the owner’s manual…? I’ve never been much of the owner's manual reader.

But then a thought stops me in my tracks. For there is the Owner’s Manual like no other.  The Owner’s Manual for living

Unfortunately, much of the time I either think I already know enough to get by without really paying attention to it or prefer other sources offering somebody else’s regurgitated cliff notes of wisdom.

Just do this and don’t do that and you’ll be O.K.  

God’s Word, however, is not an ordinary owner’s manual, full of incredible information as it is. It’s more like a the-Owner-Manufacturer-live-personal-help-guide

The Book is meant to point me to the living breathing Person revealed on its pages. The-Father-Son-Holy-Spirit-Person who knows me better than I know myself… who is more than sufficient for all my needs… who longs to be known and loved so He can show us more of who He is and what He does and what is yet to come.

So, let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. Hosea 6:3

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Thankless Kind

It truly is quite mystifying but no other holiday leaves me feeling more like a failure than Thanksgiving.

It’s as if the harder I try to cultivate this attitude of gratitude, the more miserably I fail.  My very focus on being thankful becomes counterproductive and all I notice is how petty and grumpy and unreasonably demanding we are.

Yes, of course I am thankful.  There are at least a thousand things I can name for which I can genuinely give thanks. But then I realize that I am not really thank-full. It’s more like I am thank-half-full. 

The other half is full of frustration over the pettiness and squabbles, the extreme hardship my kids suffer in order to come up with one… one thing they can say they are grateful for, especially concerning their sibling.


I thank God for our guinea pig, because he’s the one member of our family we unanimously appreciate for the joy and simplicity and super-cuteness he brings into our lives. Despite the fact that he doesn’t do any chores and mostly eats, sleeps, poops and destroys my personal library.

Is it a surprise then that Friday morning greeted me with a monster headache?

God, what’s WRONG with us??? We have so much to be thankful for and look at us…JUST LOOK AT US!!! Where did we go wrong? What are we missing???  I rant as I usually do, without expecting the answer.

… for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

The familiar words surprise me inside this unfamiliar context.

Do you realize I am talking THANKSGIVING here!. We are supposed to be t-h-a-n-k-f-u-l!


Every time I use the word 'supposed' I know I am missing something big. I am about to make myself a real turkey. But what is it?


He... is... kind… to the ungrateful…

God’s kindness is revealed to me not when I am at the head of Macy's Thanksgiving Parade (which is never), but when I am ungrateful and demanding, greedy and grumpy.  

… for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Now, to me, that’s something to be truly thankful for!

Friday, November 21, 2014

#passedover #greatertreasure

We swapped our rejection stories last Thursday around dinner table.

For some reason our kids seem to enjoy the blow-by-blow accounts of our miserable middle school days much more than any glowing success stories we might want to share from that uneasy time of not-any-more-but-not-quite-yet.

The age of insecurities, and search for identity and belonging that is not as simple and natural as it is for a little child.  

The search for purpose that appears to them much more simple and natural for an adult in mid-life.

They want to hear that we, too, have been wounded and betrayed along the prickly  journey of growing up.

Called names.

Publicly humiliated.

Plowed over.

Excluded from the inner circle...

So, we pass around our old grief and anger like salt and pepper shakers until they pop off their lids and start sharing their rejection stories.

...But I was the only one not invited…

...Today, I was the last one picked…

They STILL do that?!!!  My husband’s outrage was fueled by his own #last-one-picked#bottom-of-the-pecking-order trauma.

Yea, they do. … But, it’s O.K. Dad. I don’t hold it against them. They did it because they don’t know what’s in me. They have no idea what’s inside me…

We all giggle at the preposterous thought. But in the quiet echo of the laughter the greater truth rings loud and clear. .

If they knew Me, they would not have done it… If they really, really knew what’s inside, they would have chosen Me sooner...

And the grace of the despised and rejected Savior spills into our cracks and wounds - old and new, filling them with healing and hope that only come from Him.  

Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.  Luke 23:34

He was despised and rejected… He was looked down on and we didn’t esteem Him. Isaiah 53:3

Monday, November 17, 2014

No Quack Doctor

Last weekend we did one of those free health check-ups at a local pharmacy.  We went from station to station, various nurses taking our vitals and writing them down on a piece of paper. Height. Weight. Pulse. Blood pressure. Glucose. Cholesterol.

When probed to give us feedback about what all those numbers mean and how they reflect our overall health, each one without exception refused.  .

Around the corner, at the end, there is doctor waiting for you.  He will interpret the results, they said with a smile, and then turned to the next customer.

This used to frustrate me to no end. But today it finally dawned on me!  I should admire these well-trained nurses and learn from them - for they know what their job is and what it is not.  Not one of them would dream of interpreting the results of tests any more than they would of prescribing what they deem might be an appropriate course of treatment.

If they did this, they could lose their job!

They know that this is the doctor’s domain and his alone.

The wise nurses know what I often forget.  I may have a small part in the health-assessment line, but my job is neither diagnosis nor treatment of the various soul-diseases that plague all of us. 

This is Jesus’ job and His alone. For He is the only one who is both knowledgeable as well as fully qualified to interpret the vital signs of a person’s life and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

My job?  Point those who come to me for their health check-up to the Doctor patiently waiting around the corner who will know exactly what to do. 

For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son John 5:22

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Best Flat-Tire Day Ever

Sometimes I wonder if the blow-ups might be the Universe’s mischievous way of reminding me that I am not in charge. That I am not as much in control as I like to think that I am. Most days, I sit in my car, I turn the ignition key, and the engine starts to roar.  It’s pretty awesome! I make things happen.  I am powerful.  I feel like God. I am on my way, going places, doing stuff.

Ha, ha, says the Universe, You kiddo make me laugh! and Poof! goes my tire.

Sometimes I wonder if the blow-up might be just a cosmic assessment tool, a feedback of sort, designed to show me my true level of maturity.

I want to think of myself as competent, poised, mature adult capable of keeping my cool while weathering life’s various curve-balls.  I got out of bed this morning. I am dressed.  I am ready to go and face the giants.

The flat-tire days show me that inside this middle-aged woman’s body, there might be lurking a toddler either screaming or pouting because somebody blocked her goal.

Waaaaah! Why did You do that to me, oh you, you malevolent Universe?!!! You are so mean!

But Universe rarely responds to such accusations, sadly accustomed to being misunderstood and slandered.

In our family books there is a saying,

I am easy to please as long as I get my way.

Getting our way sometimes may involve lathering it on and sweet-talking.

But we never call it manipulation.

And if that fails, we may feel compelled to use brute force in order to ensure that we remain in control.  

But we don’t call it intimidation.

We see no problems anywhere... that is, until Murphy intervenes. Until Murphy steps in and pops the tire.  And with our car useless, I have nothing left to do but … breathe in... and breathe... out.... several times...

Relax a little.

Let somebody else be in charge.   

And when I settle enough to stop whining and pouting and striving, I may realize it truly was Murphy’s kindness to allow the blow-up.  For he drew me to sit down, all noise and rush quieted until my restless soul is quieted within me as well.

Cease striving and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.  Psalm 131:2

Monday, November 10, 2014

Flat Tire Day

Yesterday a friend told me she got not one but two flat tires in a single day. No kidding.

She was stranded in her own home, stuck with two useless vehicles with matching, fully deflated front-right tires. 

Of course, all this happened on a day with many places to go, many things to do. Good things to do, mind you! It’s not like she was planning to rob a bank or try to get away with a murder or something!

I feel frustration rising up inside me.


That's my way of empathizing with my friend and shaking my little fist at the Universe.

I know that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach very well. 

I know all about flat-tire days.

It’s the days when you feel there is a divine conspiracy bent on ruining your day. A cosmic plot determined on subverting every plan ‘of mice and men’ regardless of how lofty and noble – how important! - they may be .

The Murphy’s Law days which remind you if there is anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Whether we should attribute it to the malignity of matter, to the total depravity of inanimate things, hurry, worry, or what not, the facts (of the veracity of the Murphy’s Law) remains is how Nevil Maskelyne, a very observant British magician from last century puts it.

For some reason, I find his take on the subject rather humorous.

Visualize ugly, mean tires.

Imagine rotten promiscuous rubber.

The Goblins of Hurry. The Gremlins of Worry.

The Whatnot!

Go ahead, laugh if you wish.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Leave It to Professionals - the Epilogue

Surrounded by the bits of torn wallpaper and the rubble of the crumbling wall I realize I might be in way over my head.

It’s quite obvious that my need is much greater than a can of Venetian plaster can solve.

I need a professional!

I need someone who actually knows what they are doing.

Somebody who is familiar with crumbling walls and what it takes to rebuild them.

Somebody whose knowledge doesn't come just from reading builders’ blogs and manuals but from the gritty personal experience, the rough and the cracks on their hands proving that they actually do their work themselves.

Someone who not only possesses the patience and the skill but is also willing to stick with me through the long journey - some may call it a ‘detour’ - ahead of me.

Through the filling of the unsightly holes and rebuilding the backing.

Through smoothing down the rough till it matches the texture of the drywall.

Through prepping and priming.

Until the surface is finally ready for that beautifully understated sage green Venetian Plaster.

I need someone who is willing to stay with me through all my 'are we there yet?'

 Who is willing to stay with me even when I want to quit. 

Who is willing to stay with me all the way to the end, until the work is finished and the towels are hung and the toilet paper roll is placed in the holder. 

Right now it seems to me like a God-size job that requires God-size qualifications.

But then a funny thought crosses my mind...

OMG! My God was once a Jewish carpenter...

I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you. Hebrews 13:5

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Becoming the Miracle

Detour is the place where I begin to own the brokenness and the beauty, giving each appropriate weight and measure, place and proportion.  Neither dominating the other, neither erasing the presence of the other.  

For we are not in heaven yet, neither this is all hell.

Detour is the place and the season when I realize I need to receive with open hands and open heart their unnerving co-existence as a curious gift from the all-wise God who allows – No! – who appoints both the thorn and the rose.  The sun and the rain. The flower and the weed.

It's the place where I make my peace with both pleasure and the pain - begging for the courage to hold and to let go.

For I am prone to cling to my pain as much as I want to cling to the pleasure. 

It’s the place where I let go – and keep letting go – of my obsession with separating what is good from what is evil, the weed from the tare, and allow the One and Only One who knows all things to make that distinction in His good time.

Detour is the place where I let go – and keep letting go – of my craving for the proof of my faith, as if the Cross isn't proof enough of God's outrageous love for rebels like us. 

It's the place where I learn to satisfy my insatiable appetite for what is spectacular and miraculous, amazing and wonderful by embracing the quiet miracle of an ordinary day and its ordinary ways - cooking and cleaning, writing and reading, algebra homework and shopping for Halloween costumes - that carry no attention-grabbing signs, except, perhaps, the ever-present unfathomable vastness of the sky above it all that envelopes us all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Place Where Magic Happens

Detour is a place of magic.  Or misery. Or both.

It all depends how you look at it.

Detour is the place where thoroughly frustrated, my focus finally begins to shift from what I do, or want to do, or wish I could have done to what God does and wants to do in my life.

It’s where my primary concern moves from wallpaper and Venetian Plaster or latest decorating trends to the structural integrity of the house.  To the reality of crumbling walls and the cracks in the foundation. Deteriorating copper pipes. 

Detour is the place where I stop being bothered so much by looks and appearances, by comparison and jealousy and discover the uncharted region of what only God knows and sees - my hidden motives, my fears and strategies for self-preservation and self-protection. What is buried deeply inside my heart.

If I can let go...if I let Jesus in... detour can become a place of incredible freedom from the exhausting task of managing and guarding my reputation to being in awe of the reality of God’s work in my blissfully small life.

Detour is the place of the paradigm shift where my main agenda, my secret obsession each day becomes creating more elbow room for Him to work... in my life.  In the lives of the people around me.

While I watch.
And wait.


And pray. 

It's where I learn how to change lanes in order to slow down to the leisurely stride of the Eternal God who never rushes the sunrise just because the night is getting to be too long.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Four-Letter Prayer

Bail me out o God, and send Thou a time-machine quickly! 
Use Thou the Delete key on Thy super computer and
evaporate into non-existence 
last seven seconds of Thy servant's fleeting life,...

- somehow morphs into a four-letter word that flies off my lips with a loud bang.

I am mortified. 

Turns out, I am not the only one. 

Curiously, my one word, four-letter prayer has an instantaneous effect. 

For barely had the single-syllable left my mouth, my entire family jams up the bathroom doorway clogging up my only exit out of this mess.

What the…? Says my husband, but before he could add anything else, I interrupt, horrified:

Watch your language! Children are listening!

Our young brood, however, seems oblivious to the finer points of linguistic expression.  They are absolutely mesmerized by the unprecedented chaos unfolding before their eyes. It takes a minute or two for the revelation to work its way through their innocent minds, turning their confusion into stunned awe.  

They had no idea that their plain, painfully ordinary mother has a secret identity of a She-Hulk and that she is capable of creating this much destruction with her two bare hands.

A large neon sign DETOUR AHEAD is flashing inside my brain and something tells me that it will be awhile before I open the can of beautifully understated sage Venetian Plaster now buried under the pieces of crumbled drywall. 
I consider taking my high-end angled brush, returning it to Lowe's for a refund and leave all the painting to professionals. 

But what I really, really want to do above all else is punch Mike in the nose, because it's obvious that this mess is all his fault. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Invention of Time Machine

There comes a moment in every person’s life when they wish there existed such a thing as a time machine.  

Or a cosmic reset button.  

Or whatever ingenious gizmo which would allow you to go back in time, perhaps just a few seconds back, and undo, re-do, do-over those few short, ridiculously fleeting moments. I bet nobody in the entire universe would even notice!

But you…  you can sigh a big sigh of relief because the world is back again on its axis, merrily spinning around oblivious to the cosmic catastrophe which has just been averted.

There comes a moment in every person’s life, even an atheist’s life, when they wish there existed a God who could, at least for an instant, bend the stupid rules of the universe, and for just a few short, ridiculously fleeting moments reach down and undo, re-do, do-over those seconds.

And you can sigh a big sigh of relief because the walls of your life are not a crumbled mess around your feet but safely pinned up and held together by the pretty pink-and-blue flowery wall-paper, peeling notwithstanding.

With the strip of wall-paper in my hand, and the pieces of dry wall around my feet, I am firmly planted in that very moment.

I am a former atheist praying to God with all my heart to show me the reset button or send me a time machine that would keep my hands off that peeling wall-paper and off that wall and my world could go back to spinning undisturbed on its wobbly axis.