l e n t :: day36_restore

day36_restore

I’ve pondered the word restore today–finding synonymous definition in healing, reconciliation, rejuvenation even.  In the death of winter and the birth of spring.  In the chill of fever and the breaking into the damp skin and wet hair of health.  In the pain of the dark night of the soul and the relief of joy’s new morning.  Restore is spring’s mantra.  We see green pop out of dust and people pop out of doors, both hungry for sun and soil and socializing.  We all long to be restored–restored to the person we felt we were as children or perhaps as the person we prayerfully hope is promised.  We desire our families to be whole and reconciled.  We desire our churches and our nations to be wrecked  by mercy and justice instead of pain and discrimination.  We try and try and try to achieve these thing but they aren’t like trophies given to the most successful but gifts given to the most humble and faithful.

So today, let us be faithful to God’s promise of reconciliation and wholeness.  Let us not ignore the pain of today but usher in those thin small threads of grace that lead us to that golden rope of salvation.

How can you assist in restoration?  In what ways do you need to surrender to God’s work of eternal reconciliation?
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l e n t :: day35_people

day35_people

I was trying to experiment tonight, with some superimposing magic-ness.  I’m not ready for that.  But while fiddling Jeff asked what my word was.  “People.”  “Well, I’m your every day people aren’t I?”

I enjoy a beautiful house and we both like to practice hospitality on at least a weekly basis.  I would have loved posting a picture of our living room full of people.  But tonight I have my every day people and he often gets sidelined for every week people I unfortunately deem more important.  Tonight, I sign off quickly to invest in my every day person.  A needed lesson and certainly needed time.

Who are your every day people?  How are you investing in them?

l e n t :: day34_remember

day34_remember

I can’t help but hear the echoing voice of Mufasa in that epic scene from The Lion King: “Remembaaah!  Remembaaah!”   Oh, James Earl Jones.  Every time.  Simba chases after the quickly vanishing vision of his father but he can’t catch a memory.

Yesterday I was talking with Jeff and my parents a bit about my Grandpa.  Richard C. Ripberger and I were very close, you see.  My childhood partner in crime, Thomas, my eleven-days-older-than-me cousin, and I would go wherever and do whatever Grandpa wanted us to do.  That Jeff never knew Grandpa has been a strange and difficult reality.  He’s but a memory to me and a legend to Jeff.

The specific memory we shared last night was a time when Thomas and I, at maybe seven years old, literally pushed R.C. by his butt up the stairs in what is now my parents’ house to his then apartment/man cave.  Grandpa had a rare form of muscular dystrophy paired with repercussions from a massive stroke; these combined made walking and stair-climbing rather daunting tasks at times, and by his last years, Grandpa was wheelchair bound.  We were reprimanded for our valiant display of strength and service of course—what if he had started to fall on the way up?  We all could have been seriously hurt!  Thomas and I had originally hesitated at his first request for help but Grandpa was a business man with a woo that could make the pope wear nothing but gym shorts to Mass: he won.

I miss that man incredibly.  And I miss those silly, fun days with Tom.  I hope to always remember them.

Imagine what the disciples must have felt when Jesus was no longer with them.  For three days, confused and hurt, they were at a standstill—what just happened?  Consider how they may have dwelt in memories of weddings, and miracles, and feasts, and reprimands, and invitations.  My Grandpa was just a man, a flawed man, but for them, Jesus!  Their Messiah!  The promised One!  Gone!  Few of us have never experienced the death of a loved one; most know the pain of those first few days of loss and acceptance.  I wonder what the disciples remembered most clearly.  I wonder what they shared as consolation in time together.  I wonder if they, like Simba, tried chasing after an old vision, their eyes off the calling and anticipation of reconciliation.

He may have promised His rebuilding of the Temple, His trampling over death, but did they get it?  I would bet that Easter hallelujah wasn’t even yet on their sorrowful radar.

What remembrance do you regularly step into?   Does it guide you to a truer future or leave you alone in the meadow?

l e n t :: day33_path

day33_path

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

What path are you choosing?

l e n t :: day31_listen

day31_listen

Listen.  Unrest resides in our bones.  Listen.  Life does not have to be that way.  Listen.  Bernie, Trump, Hillary, Cruz—they don’t determine your daily decisions.  Listen.  Injustice is battled by big names and big organizations on big stages with loud speakers and fancy bills and ordinances and regulations but LISTEN: that means nothing if we do not battle injustices in the short breath of Tuesdays when kids cry and staff meetings run late with murky agendas and rain cancels practice and you see one woman passed by due to her race, her addiction, her worship, HER WHOSHEISNESS.  So listen.  Light a candle and be a candle and listen.  The shouting voices are easy to hear.  But perhaps those are not the ones we need rattling our ear drums.  Listen.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

James 1:19-21

To whom are you listening?

l e n t :: day29_surround

day29_surround

When we lived in Michigan, our closest family member, at least until Jukes joined the Hope party, was 3 hours away.  Especially once we and our friends started having kids, we would struggle when friends would mention having regular date nights with grandparents watching kiddos: we couldn’t afford to pay babysitters AND pay for dinner!  A luxury.  Or when fellow moms would be having a tough day and a grandparent would give them a 30 minute reprieve.  Gifts galore.  Or on Easter or July 4 or Memorial Day when we didn’t make it to Indiana or New York or Dallas to be with family and we celebrated with a slow day.  We were lonely for close ones sometimes.

Now, I look out my back window and see the house my parents and brother live in.   And I see my Grandma’s house.  Last night, we had to run to Lowes; Mom and Dad watched the girls for less than two hours so our trip would be easy and quick.  Tuesday was BEAUTIFUL outside so the girls and I wondered around the farm and stopped into Gigi’s house for a 15 minute visit playing with Ruff (a stuffed dog) and Roar (Winnie the Pooh, of course).  Then we all jumped in the van for an ice cream run Tuesday night – so fun!  But you know what?  Sometimes it just sucks.  Like having a long chat with my mom tonight and not finding any common ground, like each topic or idea or thought or feeling we each reveal slams against a brick wall and falls to the ground, not even important enough to be accompanied by a crash or a whisper.   These moments the space of Michigan is missed.

I don’t want to remember this right now–I’d rather wallow–but I MUST remember right now that being surrounded is heavenly.  That being surrounded by family is intended.  That being surrounded may be yucky and emotional and difficult but at the end of days, it will be my family filling the pews at my funeral, singing appropriately replaced words to Audio Adrenaline’s “Big, Big House” as I, I assume, will peer on from some celestial realm, wearing all silk, surrounded by work from Klimt and Van Gogh, drinking wine and eating cheese with Jesus.   That no matter how hard I try not to want to, I will always love my mom and my dad and my brother more than anyone besides my hubband and my chilluns, and will always long for nearness to them.  Today’s challenge: embrace the surroundings.

How can you embrace those who surround you?

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the LORD surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.

Psalm 125:2

l e n t :: day28_faithful

day29_faithful

All the chisels I’ve dulled carving idols of stone
That have crumbled like sand neath the waves
I’ve recklessly built all my dreams in the sand
Just to watch them all wash away
Through another day, another trial,
Another chance to reconcile to one who sees past all I see
And reaching out my weary hand I pray that you’d understand
You’re the only one who’s faithful to me
All the pennies I’ve wasted in my wishing well
I’ve thrown like stones to the sea
I’ve cast my lots, dropped my guard searched aimlessly
For a faith to be faithful to me
Through another day, another trial
Another chance to reconcile to one who sees past all I see
And reaching out my weary hand I pray that you’d understand
You’re the only one who’s faithful to me
You’re the only one who’s faithful to me

Jennifer Knapp, Faithful to Me

Who is most faithful to you?  To whom are you most faithful?
To Jeff – I deeply appreciate your faithfulness through our years of dating, engagement and marriage.  These flowers are just a little token of  all that you do and have done in your daily walk with me.  Love you dude!