Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Grammy

"I show mercy to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my commandments." Exodus 20:6

Toasting to the new year ahead, I looked into my husband's eyes and said, "I pray that God allows us to grow very old together that we might enjoy our family to the fourth generation."

Two days later, we received word that the husband of a dear acquaintance had passed away. His memorial service was such a tribute to his life; a godly life full of faith, family and friends; a life enjoyed, full of laughter and good humor; a life full of family that he loved and loved him in return. It was one of those services that you make a mental note and say, "That's how I want to be remembered."

My Little Grammy was like this man. She lived her 98 years surrounded by family, friends, laughter and good humor. I think of her often even though she's been gone for a good 30 years. She was the glue that drew five generations together (at least once) to celebrate her 90th birthday at her tiny house on River Road in Southern Maine. She loved people, especially her family and she knew all of us by name. Her mind was sharp right to the end and always focused on others, except when she wanted to watch her favorite television program, The Lawrence Welk Show. As far as I recall, that was the only time she would ever ignore anyone.

Little Grammy may have been small in stature but she was big in personality and huge in heart. Whenever you entered her home, you were greeted with a cup of tea, a homemade donut or molasses cookie. Then, she'd sit down with you, ask you a question and then listen.

I recall the last conversation we had. I had decided to visit her during my freshman college spring break. As I entered her tiny home I found Aunt Lelia in the kitchen fixing tea and Little Grammy lying on the couch, her fragile body wrapped in a blanket. She still greeted me with her million dollar smile as her aged-with-wisdom hands stretch out from beneath the blanket and beckoned me to sit at her side. Before the tea cup could busy my hands, she clasped them between her own. "What do you want to be when you grow up, Dawnie?" she asked, looking me in the eye and poised to listen.

The rest of the conversation is of no consequence. I answered as any eighteen-year-old college freshman would answer. But why I remember is of consequence. She listened. She was fully engaged in knowing me, her great granddaughter. That day Little Grammy, in the second most needy state of life since birth, passed her wisdom of family relationships to the fourth generation...always love...always listen...always encourage...always dream.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be a Little Grammy who passes God's wisdom, dreams, and blessings to the fourth generation.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just Do It

"The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true -- These are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what pleases Christ, and then do it."

Ephesians 5: 8-10 (The Message)

All morning I've been combing the pages of one of my favorite books
The Rock that is Higher by Madeline L'Engle, for one of her gems of literary quotes. To no avail I cannot place my finger on it so I will assume it's not her quote. None-the-less, I'll paraphrase the thought for which I assumed was hers:We must seize the day to write what God has placed in us for we never know when the day will come that we are unable to write His story.

I think of this every time I find myself making up excuses not to write. Sometimes it gets me to sit at the keyboard or take out my pen and journal. Other times it's just a source of guilt when I'm totally unmotivated and I find myself praying, "Lord, please give me an extension." Too many requests like that and time will surely catch up with me!

This week has been a time of seizing the day. A time when I've consciously taken the initiative to get back to my desk and write. But, getting the words out on virtual paper has been simply strenuous. Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest says inspiration begins when we take the initiative to move. Once we take that first step, God's inspiration comes and "he immediately gives us the power of life." Well, I've taken the first step but I haven't felt incredibly inspired. But, thanks to my friend Madeline, I think I figured out why. I'm thinking too much.

When L'Engle teaches a writing class she instructs her students to "Write. Don't think." It's not that she advocates stupidity or unsubstantiated literary work, rather she advocates creativity by letting go of the cognitive brain. If we over think an idea or a story it separates us from the transcending creativity of God when we just allow the words to flow. It's okay to think before we write and think after we write but during the writing process L'Engle demands, "Write. Don't think."

So, if God has commissioned a good, right and true work to be written, and Christ has shed light on my path, then it's now time to just do it! This is pleasing in His sight.

What is it God has asked of you? Will you just do it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


"But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them." 1 John 2:5

If you were given a gift by someone who truly loved you, would you pass it up? Worse yet, would you re-gift? I'm supposing most would answer, "It depends on the gift."

If the gift were something you'd asked for, longed for or was unimaginably perfect for you, my guess is you'd choose to keep it. But, if the gift was less than beautiful (okay, outright ugly) or would make you uncomfortable to use it or be seen in it, my bets are you'd either opt to politely refuse it, return it or re-gift it.

Years ago God gave me a gift and I'm embarrassed to say, I opted to re-gift.

I was in the middle of worship on a Sunday morning. I don't mean just being present in body, in "my pew" inside the physical sanctuary of a church building. I mean fully immersed in God's presence. As I sang familiar words God interrupted my song with words of his own. Today, I can't recall the specific words but I know they weren't mine. I do remember they were just a few words with no specific meaning to me but they kept repeating and I felt compelled to speak them but fear stopped me.

"Lord, I think these words are from you but, what if I'm wrong?" I asked.

"They are from me," he replied. "Just speak."

"But they're not a complete thought." I argued.

"Don't worry. I'll give you the words. Just speak."

"I can't. Please, Lord, give these words to someone else. Not me."

And he did.

I'd like to say that was an isolated incident but it wasn't. It happened several times over a few years. God would put a phrase or a sentence in my head and ask me to speak but I'd refuse and re gift it to someone else. "Lord, please give these words to Linda or Rick. They're known for their gift of prophecy. They're not afraid to speak." And every time, the exact words that had been floating around in my head would be spoken from their lips. For awhile that was okay with me. It let me off the hook of responsibility but then I realized I was acting like a spoiled child. Who was I to refuse God's gift or worse, to re gift it? For awhile, God withheld his words from me. And, believe it or not, I felt slighted and told him so. Can you imagine? (I'm being brutally honest).

Like any parent, God gave me another chance but it came with a warning, "If I entrust my words to you, you must be obedient to speak them. My words are not for your edification but for my glory and the edification of all my people."

A few years ago, God placed more than a few words in my heart. He planted the seed of a book. He's commissioned me to write his story of healing and forgiveness based on some of my life's experiences. It's been a stop and go journey and he's reminded me that I certainly have the choice to refuse and re-gift. I've chosen to accept his gift of words as he continually reminds me that his words give healing and are meant for his glory and the edification of all.

So, I'd covet your prayers as I set out to finish writing down the words he has entrusted to me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Not About Me

"'Love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37-39

It's Valentine's Day...and I don't feel romantic. I don't feel particularly moved to write something clever on a red heart. I'm not into getting all glammed up and heading out for an expensive meal amongst strangers in an over packed restaurant serving love on a plate. I don't feel much of anything will light that Valentine's Day spark beneath me and it bothers me.

It could be the fatigue from scraping, sanding, spackling, painting and decorating the spare room last week. It could be the scare I got from the attack of the folk art Grandpa that fell off the shelf above my head last night and hit me between the the exact spot of my concussive injury. It could be I simply need a nap or some lunch. It could be a number of different things of which I'm unaware. I don't know.

What I do know is, it's not all about me.

There's a man who deserves my love because he sacrifices his time and energy everyday while I travel the keyboard in my pj's. Each morning he chooses to love me whether I look like a million bucks or a piece of half-chewed penny candy. He dreams with me, rejoices with me and cries with me. He always encourages me to be the woman God created and accepts all the growing pains that entails.

But, it's not all about him, either.

It's about the lover of my soul. It's about the One who formed me in my mother's womb and knitted me together; who knew who I'd be before anyone else; the One who knows me even now. He's the One who gave up His life so that I might live. Now that's love. Today is about Jesus. I need to spend time alone with Him. Let him into my fatigue, my busyness, my lack and let him woo me into romance.

When my soul is full of Him, my heart can give again.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ordained to Praise

"From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies to silence the foe and the avenger."
Psalm 8:2

Children carry the spirit of truth. Ask anyone who spends significant amounts of time with little ones and they'll concur. As self-centered as children can be, they can sincerely size you up in five seconds flat. There's no faking it around them. If they're too timid to verbalize their opinions, give them a blank piece of paper and a marker and they'll show you exactly what they're thinking.

One day, Jesus was in the temple. After causing a ruckus with the dishonest merchants, the people crowded around him, including the blind, the lame, the chief priests and the children. He touched the blind and they could see. He healed the lame and they could walk. The children took notice and sang his praise, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"

This infuriated the priests. "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked Jesus, as if he put them up to it.

Jesus coolly replied, "Yes. Have you never read 'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?' " And the chief priests had no further argument.

If little children can see the truth so plainly, how is it that us grown ups have such difficulty? What clouds our thinking, our vision, our hearts from the truth? What causes our eyes not to see? Our ears not to hear? Our hearts not to know? I don't have an answer. I only pray to return to that childlike faith.

The children called it as they saw it that day at the temple. They knew they were in the presence of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Son of David. I wonder what their artwork looked like that day?