Monday, August 3, 2020

The wee hours

The house is quiet at 3:18 a.m. Outside, faint rumbles of thunder roll as lightening sporadically brightens the dark sky with jagged spears of light thrown from the heavens. I look outside to see if it
is raining. It is not. But from my vantage point, my heart quickens to see a bear has come to visit, taking a seat by the sidewalk. But alas, a closer look informs my better senses that the black shape I view is simply the garden cart left there after weeding the edges. “Perhaps it is the lack of sleep that fools my eyes,” I think as I paddle bare-footed back to the sofa and the comforter spread out there.

Sleep does not come easily though I wish it to. Some nights I fall asleep only to wake within an hour or two, restless and unable to fall back into the embrace of slumber. Other times, like tonight, I lay quietly in bed, jealously listening to my husband find his rest. When it becomes clear to me that I will not sleep, like a ninja I make my way to what has become my reading spot. There, a book and reading glasses await. The paragraphs roll by until I wistfully believe to be tired. I shift to the couch, arrange the blanket, and anticipate eventual sleep lulled into existence by the soothing, rhythmic tic-toc of the clock.
I tell myself to let go. Relax. But soon, no matter how tightly or long I hold my eyes shut, I am as awake as ever. I try the guest bed, but in time find the stillness of the air sans fan to be oppressive. An hour passes before I move back to the sofa. Gary’s snores from the other room have silenced and I am hopeful. But the hope is in vain as my fingers now alight on the keyboard. Oh, how I wish I could sleep.

I used to look forward to bed and the nearly instantaneous sleep I experienced. Now, bedtime is dreaded, not knowing if the wee hours will provide a much needed source of respite and recovery. But in an odd sense, there are times that in the stillness, I put aside my angst for the weariness I am sure to feel come morning. 

The solitude I feel informs my thinking. I share my innermost thoughts and fears with The Father. I ask for clarity and guidance. I plan and pray. I am embraced by the creator of the universe. And that is enough for this moment.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. Psalm 16:7

Monday, April 6, 2020

In search of turkeys

Call us crazy, but Gary and I went tromping through the woods today. Together. For fun. And for a very good reason--at least to my dear husband. Me? I was just happy to be in the mountains.

With a beautiful day at hand, we hopped in the car and headed across the valley to the mountains.
Once on the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway, he steered the car northward in search of his “spot.” The goal was to scout for turkey sign as a precursor to the start of the upcoming season in short six days. He is beyond excited at the prospect of hunting more than normal now that the world seems to have closed up shop due to Corvid-19. Less work=hunt more.

Here’s the back story. Hunting turkeys is a favorite pastime for this husband of mine. For years he ventured into the national forest for a chance to call in a big ‘ol turkey before blasting pellets into the bird. He often took friends with him, parking in the dark, wee hours of the morning, bushwhacking up the mountainside, and positioning himself to outwit a gobbler in search of love by replicating the irritating yelp of the female. Many of his hunts proved successful. An unproductive Elmer Fudd he is not.

I'd follow this man anywhere
Though it was not immediately clear which parking area he used to call home base, he figured it out based on his recall of how the climb began. So off we went; across the parkway, finagled our way up an unmarked ridgeline to the right, trudged through stands of mountain laurel, and eventually intersected high up on the mountain with ATV trails that pass through the forest.

The hike along said trails led us first to a relatively flat area that he frequented when he hunted this area in years past. He told me stories of how his dad shot a bird 25 years ago, and how a friend missed one that Gary called in. We abandoned the easy trail and began to look for sign in the woods. “I’ll head to the left and you look to the right,” Gary instructed. “You know what you’re looking for, right?”

Good question. Turns out that turkeys love to scratch around in leaves in their quest for bugs or whatever it is they find tasty. “So I’m looking for messy leaves?” Hum. This should be interesting in a forest with a leaf-covered floor. He showed me an example of a scratch, but I wasn't convinced. I tried hard to find an obvious sign of gathered turkeys. Nevertheless, I think I was concentrating more on not tripping over dead-fall than I was in finding sign.

It wasn’t until we checked out another area of open hardwoods that I really caught on. I began to
recognize areas of dirt with leaves shoved to the side. “Is this it?” I queried Gary. As he affirmed each identified turkey scratch area, I felt like I had added another important life skill to my resume’. I was becoming a certified turkey stalker.

So think about this. If wild turkey routinely leave signs, I’m wondering how hard it should be for our presence as Christ-followers to be identified? 

It seems to me that we should be making a difference wherever we are. People should be able to say, “Look. A Christian has obviously been here. We can tell."

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34, 35

Monday, January 20, 2020

Little lost Lamb

The beloved Lamby
She was showing signs of age. Rag-tagged and a little lumpy, Lamby, as she was known, bore the marks of a well-loved stuffed friend. Despite years of hard loving, she was still oddly adorable. Her floppy body and legs were a little darker than before, accumulated ground-in dirt stuck between the once-fluffy fibers. But everywhere Addyson went, the lamb was sure to go. Lamby offered security and companionship whenever the sun set and bedtime rolled around. Under the covers they snuggled, perfectly content in each other's arms. So just imagine how difficult a Lamby-less evening could be for a sensitive little girl.

We were visiting some relatives and staying the night, Lamby in tow. Addyson and Lamby cuddled throughout the night, greeting the morning healthy and happy. After some time playing with cousins, we left to travel home as did the cousins. Only problem was, Lamby did not make it into our car. That devastating fact didn’t make itself known until several hours later. We made frantic calls back to Aunt Joy in a quest to find the stuffed animal. Despite looking high and low, Lamby had gone missing. Where, oh where, could she possibly be? An all-points bulletin was put out to Kerry, Aunt Joy's daughter, and her brood of husband and three kids. Had Lamby accidentally gotten in that car and traveled to their home?

Where, of where, could Lamby be?
Shortly after arriving back at our house, the full realization hit Addy that Lamby would not be available for nighttime snuggles. I found Addy sitting alone at the dining room table, eyes reddened and tears rolling down here cheeks. She pitifully turned her gaze upward with those watery eyes. She whispered, her soul revealing the deepest pain. “I love Lamby so much! I had her since I was a baby. She is very special to me.” Despite reassurances that Lamby could not run away and had to be "somewhere," no amount of consoling provided the much needed solace.

I tucked her into bed, privileged to hear sweet prayers for her mommy and daddy. Then with tiny hands folded in prayer-like posture, the tears cascaded once again. “Why don’t you pray that Lamby will be found?” I prompted.

“Okay, Grandma. I will.” Between heart-wrenching sobs, she choked out the sweetest prayer in her soft-spoken, almost whispered, tone. “Dear God, please keep Lamby safe. I love her so much. I miss her with all my heart. Please help her to be found. Amen.”
Lamby is found hiding under the bed

As she prayed, I heard my phone beep. It was a simple text from Joy. “Lamby has been found.” What?!? Could it be?

“Addyson, Aunt Joy found Lamby! She is safe and sound!” As the news of the find registered in her heart and mind, her face lit up as if a switch had been flipped on. Tears of joy replaced tears of sadness. There was great celebration in that bedroom! Apparently, Kerry's oldest had hidden Lamby behind some floor pillows and under the bed in Aunt Joy and Uncle Skip's bedroom. It was on the wildest whim that Aunt Joy thought to look there. But sure enough, Lamby was pulled from amongst the dust bunnies residing in that dark and hidden-away zone. What a relief that the lost lamb had been found! It was a teachable moment about God’s goodness, answered prayer, and His pursuit of those who are lost.

What joy to be no longer lost, but found!
We have an awesome God who chases down his lost lambs, human and otherwise.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.

Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7

The wee hours

The house is quiet at 3:18 a.m. Outside, faint rumbles of thunder roll as lightening sporadically brightens the dark sky with jagged spears...