Welcome Summer

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Last night I dreamed I was back in college, in that old apartment on Walnut Avenue. Clothes were strewn across my bedroom floor, draped across the bed, piled up in corners. One of my friends sat on my bed and I reclined next to him, asked about his wife, his new baby. I was the me I am now—this woman quickly approaching fifty—but my heart was young and carefree. As I looked in my friend’s eyes, I knew I was old, but I felt beautiful and hopeful, as if time had no power over me.

When I awakened, I puzzled over the contradiction the dream posed.

“Why would I dream such a thing?” I asked my husband as we carpooled to work this morning.

Then I remembered. Today is the first day of summer. The summer solstice happens when the tilt of the earth’s axis leans closest to the sun, and we enjoy the longest day of the year.

I suppose if I think about it, I would say my college years might represent the summer of my life. If summer represents freedom and possibility, a time of dreaming and discovery. But the beautiful thing about the dream was that even though I was in an earlier time, I was the same age I am now. And felt the full impact of my gathered years as beauty.

I’m sitting with that for a spell. Letting it trickle down inside of me and drench my young heart—that heart with eternity written into it. The dreaming is not done with me yet.

 

“lean in a little more, honey,” says
the sun, glowing. and the night
scatters as light is sown gently

in the morning, this dream awakens
words so strong they are heard
underwater; scent of crushed flowers

the wind as stiff as stone, ushers
a sudden rain and clouds drift soft
into velveteen

amidst the tumbling
songs of robins.

Maundy Thursday: Beauty in the Mirror (a post for Makes You Mom)

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Your thoughts are a forest today—lonely and wild. This husk of darkness veils the details, each tree cloaked in shadow, branches still bare. You crunch along this rugged terrain.

You spend an hour on the phone with a girlfriend assuring her that she is enough, she is beautiful and kind. But when the conversation ends you know she doesn’t believe you.

How do we give truth to others in a way that they will believe? How do we receive truth?

We have to live it first.

Will you join me over at Makes You Mom for the rest of this story? Today I’m thinking about all the little deaths that come with a life in Christ. Sunday is coming, friends!

Off the Stack: Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming

Recently, I had a little ego crisis. I was seeing myself through earthly eyes and struggling a little with what the world names me. Okay, so I was feeling old and forgotten.  Do you know God spoke to me right in the middle of that ugly place and called me beautiful? He not only called me beautiful, He called me desirable and He touched my heart in a way I won’t long forget. It wounded me a little, I have to say, but this limping is a stone in my shoe that I carry with me.
One of the things God used to speak love to me in this fragile state was a book my friend Monica sent me. Monica is a friend of the author and she wrote the foreward to this particular book. It just so happens that Monica sent me another book by this author a while back—a book that spoke to deep places in my heart about my longing for Home. So I knew I God was getting ready to speak something powerful into my life—I just didn’t know how desperately I needed to hear it.
The book? Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. This is a book about more than aging gracefully. It’s about seeing oneself—through the years—framed by the blue vault of heaven. The book originated with the questions, “What kind of old woman am I becoming?” and “Lord, how do you want me to think about the rest of my life?” And Jean Fleming’s reflective spirit benefits us all, because, as she says in the book, preparation is not only important, it’s Biblical.

“… I don’t know what the future holds. Will I be a widow? Face serious illness? Know loneliness and isolation? Much of what is ahead is unknown, but the known part is meat and bread for the soul. The known part, what God has revealed through His Word, is food for the journey …”

Jean reminds me that there is nothing that can happen in this life that God has not given provision for. She reminds me not to lean into my own flesh as I age, but to lean into the very Words that give life. Too often I need this reminder.
In an attempt to honor what God was planting in the fertile soil of her life, Jean started what she calls “an old woman file” in her fiftieth year.

“For twenty years, I’ve fed that file. I’ve studied Bible passages, collected quotes, and hoarded odd pages, snippets of conversation, and insights from books I was reading—whatever held the slightest promise of stimulating my thinking on this topic—all the while holding up one idea after another to the Scriptures, pondering and praying … The ideas I explore, pray over, and chew on form a body of truth-in-process for me. I catch glimmers, fully intending to watch over them like a hen over her hatch. I return to these forming ideas, asking the Lord to correct, enlarge, and refine them …”

Jean’s stewardship of these ideas culminated in this beautiful book that holds not only wisdom flowering from years of experience and walking with God, but the author’s lovely poetic voice as well. 
Isn’t that the kind of old woman I want to become? Beauty and wisdom. And a countenance that glorifies our good God.

Five Minute Friday: Tree

Thoughts are a forest today—lonely and wild. This husk of darkness veils the details … each tree cloaked in shadow, each leaf stripped bare. You crunch along this rugged terrain.
You spend an hour on the phone with a girlfriend assuring her that she is enough, she is beautiful and kind. But when the conversation ends you know she doesn’t believe you. How do we give truth to others in a way that they will believe? How do we receive truth?
We have to live it first.
Your 14-year-old son sits beside you on the couch and looks at the screen over your shoulder. Then he looks at you.
You.
“You look old,” he says. And automatically the hand goes to the hair, the face. You feel your body against your bones, whole and round. You are aware that you take up too much space.
“Well, I’m not young,” you laugh into his smooth skin. His beautiful eyes. But later, you stare in the mirror…pull the skin back from your center, suck in your tummy, lift your breasts up to where they used to be. Where has time gone? Who is this person looking back at you?
Where were you when this world decided what would be called beautiful? Wouldn’t you have spoken up for a few things? For crow’s feet and stretch marks? The chicken pox scars in the corner of the eye? And this loose skin that used to house another—that carried a heartbeat underneath its swelling curve. Isn’t this beauty?
The memory of beauty is not enough. You must call it beautiful now. But no one will believe you. You wear your body like a loose-fitting sweater. Who could believe such a contrast? You thought you were too smart for this. To get caught in this trap of regret, of longing for the particular beauty of youth. But here you are, casting aside all the years this body has been faithful. Shouldn’t this count for something?
When you look at the soft crown of white on others, you name it beautiful. This is the richer beauty—the rings hidden inside the trunk of each tree, each layer of growth speaking the stories that hold witness there. Do you dare look deeper into your own skin? Do you dare to name yourself beautiful?
In the dark forest of thoughts this is the singular tree that stands erect. The years grow on her like skin, layer after layer of time wrapping around her boney skeleton as she becomes. This is beauty—this becoming, this constant growing, never staying the same.
Step softly into the beauty of time. Don it like a gown. Let it fall swirling around your ankles; let it halo around your brow. This is the gift you can give to others: live in truth.
You are beautiful.

Five Minute Friday