An Eye for Beauty

“I’ve got a surprise for you.”

“Aren’t they beautiful, mama?”

A bouquet of flowers!
(or an handful of weeds?)

Who could classify something so beautiful as “weeds”?

We see what we want to see.

and, I am beholding beauty…
a beautiful smile
on a beautiful girl
holding beautiful flowers
from a beautiful field
on a beautiful hill
in a beautiful part of the country
on this beautiful planet.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
and my eyes are full of beauty today.

Lord, open my eyes to look for the beauty
in everyone
and everything around me.

The Times They Are A Changin’

Are you ready for progress?

Ready or not, here it comes.

Big boys play
in red southern clay,
and the world changes.

A high way is coming through.
It doesn’t really affect my life; I’m just a visitor, passing through.
So, why does this have such an effect on me… a stir of excitement, a pang of regret, questions:

Is this good?  Is this better?  Is this best?

Standing here on this bridge, hundreds of miles from home, I watch the earth being moved all around me.  Times are changing for the folks who live on either side of this thoroughfare, and things will never be the same for them.

I’ve been reading a book written a hundred years ago about what happened in my tiny town a hundred years before that.  So much has changed, and is still changing as history is being made all around me.

Maybe that is why seeing this highway being built strikes me so profoundly.  — I’m not the only one facing progress.  —  We are all in this together.  The human race caught between yesterday and tomorrow.

This bridge I’m standing on will take nearly 30 minutes off someone’s commute.  The city is growing.  More jobs for more folks, a boost to their economy.  Still, something inside me clings to the past, to quiet pastures and fields.   

I inwardly protest technology; yet, this is the future… and so I blog rather than dip a quill and scratch on parchment.  I am connected to people all around the world with every post, and we all feel this tug-of-war with progress.  City dwellers, country folk, mamas, papas, we’re all just people trying to keep up and yet wanting to linger with familiar and safe.

Change.  How one word sums up a century.  Is it good?  Is it bad?
To quote my husband, “it is what it is.”

Lord, what is my place in this world?  How do You want me to live “today”, somewhere between a Lancaster and NYC way of life.  Lord, show me how to keep the good and embrace the best.

“As the present now
Will later be past…
And the first one now
Will later be last…”

– Bob Dylan 
(paraphrasing Mt. 20, words of Christ) 

It’s not about me.  I’m part of a bigger story.  I want to play my part well. 

Seeking eternal perspective on life and history,
me

Homemade


Feeling rushed, 

we swing through a drive through…
“Would you like to add an apple pie to your order today?”


A unanimous “Hurray!” sounds from the back seats
with echos of  
“Thanks, Mom!”
“Mom, you’re the greatest!”
and (my favorite)

“You’re the best mommy in the whole world ever.”

It sure is easy to be the “world’s greatest mom”…
Fast food, 
hours the TV,
giving in to the “please, oh please” in check-out line,
letting them stay up w-a-y past bed time,
… the kids would love it!
Yup, sure is easy 
in the short term.
Fast food and homemade pies,
they’re basically the same:
apples, sugar, cinnamon, flour,
but there’s no comparison,
Busy moms and make-time-moms,
also no comparison,
but there is no substitute.
There’s something to be said for being the “worst-est mom ever” (to quote a dear friend’s preschooler, now high-school-graduate).  They are the mamas who “have eyes in the back of their head”, and sneaky little ones feel like they can “never get away with anything”.  “Mean Mamas” choose the long, hard road rather than the short cut with a quick-fix.

Lord, help me

  • …to be wise enough to not compromise in an attempt to be popular with my children.
  • …to be self-disciplined enough to correct them right away rather than let disobedience slide.
  • …to be determined enough to not react or cave to whining or begging… not once, not ever.
  • …to be sober enough to not call sin “cute” or “funny”.
  • …to be attentive and patient enough to recognize the deeper issue beneath the outburst:  tiredness, embarrassment, loneliness.
  • …to balance justice and mercy, to know when a spanking and when a hug is in order.
  • …to error on the side of grace rather than legalism.
  • …to prioritize, to invest my energy into listening to, playing with, laughing with, singing with, reading to, and delighting in my children. 
…because I know that when it comes to parenting, the quick-fix will turn out to be the harder, more painful road in the end.
Just because I “stay home” doesn’t mean I don’t cut corners.  It’s not so much about employment or making everything from scratch.  When my heart is at home, I make the tough choices.     Frozen pies, ready made crusts, or bakery fresh? – That’s not the question.  It’s more about heart and affection, time and attention.  Even homemade has short-cuts, but there is no quick-fix if the heart isn’t home.
It has been years since I used my speedy “apple peeler/corer/slicer”.  With a gathering crowd watching and waiting to see it the apple they picked will peel in one l-o-n-g slice, eager hands stretching the coil to its maximum length to estimate the inches, and smiling mouths gobbling up the would be compost, I’d rather have the tender-wrinkled thumbs and the praise than fancy, evenly sliced apples.– It’s the heart more than the ingredients that makes a homemade pie taste sweeter.  
To tell the truth, I receive equal accolades from my kids for my apple pies as for a quick-stop fast-food (though my husband has voiced a definite preference).  So whether you stop by the grocery’s bakery or McDonald’s, why don’t you consider serving a bit of home along with a piece of pie to your family tonight with all your heart
A labor of love reads as clear as any written label, 
“Mom has time today, and I did this for you.”
FYI – We ate the pie before I thought to take a picture, but I assure you it was beautiful and delicious!

Family > Friends

“Friends are the family you choose”.

 Initially that sounds so sweet, but friends are also the family you can dump if things get too annoying, too complicated, or if a more desirable friend comes along.

In junior high, we signed our notes “Friends 4-ever”.  Six moves and a couple decades later, I’m Facebook friends with several dozen and intimate with none. 

FAMILY is different.

Family is meant to be different.

Family is FOREVER.

As dear as it is to have a friend who “is like a sister to me”, there is an unquestionable, life-long, unconditional commitment, a “for-better-or-worse-we’re-family” element to my relationship with my own brothers and sisters that is vastly deeper than friendship.   Regardless of where we go or what we do, we will never be able to escape our family ties. 

Even the family we get to choose, (the spouse, the adopted child) once they are chosen and they become family, they are forever, “for better or worse”. 

What if we made vows to each of our relatives and, like the Jews, posted them as beautiful art in our homes to remind us daily of our covenant.

I take you to be my family (my husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousin,…)   “to have and to hold (on to) from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death…”  – The Book of Common Prayer

I choose you.  Not because of your looks, or your talents, or your skills; not because of what you say to me, or can do for me, or how you make me feel; not because of your grades or your pay check; not because of anything except for the fact that you are family, and I forever choose to love you.

How many families hold up to the “better/worse – richer/poorer – sickness/health – test”?
Especially when the worse is beyond bearable and the poorer is bankrupt and the sickness is mentally ill?

“learn first of all to put (your) religion into practice by caring for (your) own family… for this is pleasing to God.”  1 Timothy 5:4

We deceive ourselves when we convince ourselves that we have something more important to do than care for our families.  (see Matthew 15:3-9)

FAMILY = the friends GOD chose for YOU.


March Winds

delightful, fearful, surprising
gentle breeze, forceful gusts

We watch and predict the unpredictable.

I went to the Jersey coast last month. Record warm days for the northeast made for an almost ideal private beach vacation at a popular summer seaside location.

It has been nearly 20 years since I was last here.

So much and so little has changed… mostly me.

 Older eyes see the world differently. Weathered by experience, what still stands after life has blown away the superficial fluff is an appreciation for time and perspective on the temporal.

I notice details that a high school girl was too busy to see, partly because I’m tired… sitting still, I take it in.

After long winter, I breath in the sea air for more than oxygen. I take in life with the currents that the breath of God has blown. Hair tossed in my face made damp by the spray of salt, the mist of ocean caught on wings as heaven skims across the surface of the waters.

March:
“In like a lion,
Out like a lamb”?


Christ:
“Out like a lamb,
In like a lion.”

I can’t help but spiritualize everything.
I am spirit filled with Spirit.

Your presence, Lord, is a constantly moving holy wind, stirring within me.

Sometimes soft and quiet,
a gentle whisper to Elijah. (1 Kings 19)
Sometimes roaring and howling,
the thundering voice of the Almighty who questioned Job. (Job 40:9)

Lamb of God, silent to the slaughter
Lion of Judah, coming again

You make “the clouds (your) chariot and ride on the wings of the wind.” (Ps. 104:3)

Mighty, Powerful One.
You set the course of my life.
Blow me where You will.

Something in me longs to “mounted the cherubim and fly… and soar on the wings of the wind” with You. (Ps. 18:10)