The Hard

It’s been hot here. It was forecast to hit 110 Fahrenheit a few weeks ago (not normal), but smoke from wildfires across the state as well as up into Canada, helped keep the sun’s heat down to a mere 108. We escaped to the coast. Down to the southern corner in a little cove of, well, serenity. We went camping. Iris and I where avid backpackers in college, but that wasn’t possible in Russia. And in Mongolia, we did a fair bit of camping in yurts. All of our backpacking gear we left here, and we have been slowly upgrading it to newer items. We’ve also been exploring this whole world of car camping. It’s been a lot of fun, and hopefully, I’ll get to take the kids backpacking soon, maybe next Spring.

I digress.

This little cove of serenity I was talking about… The tide went in and out over 8 and  half feet at some points. We found “hidden” coves where we had to use a rope to climb down to the momentarily exposed beaches (perhaps a kayak or two are needed in the future). One morning, early, when the fog hadn’t fully left the inlet, and the kids and Iris were asleep, I took my coffee and went for a walk to the beach. The water was out a good 100 meters or so as it was the point of lowest tide. I explored. I explored tree trunks that had been there for years, slowly succumbing to the sea. I saw mollusks, crabs and other creatures that were exposed for such a brief time.

And then  I saw veins of hard rock that ran straight up the cliffs and the whole width of the bay. These veins of hard rock were anywhere from a few inches to 2-3 feet high, creating ridges, like you would see in driftwood. The softer, porous rock had eroded away much sooner, and mollusks had attached themselves to these hardened veins. It was…incredible. I so enjoy the early morning thoughts and reflections that come…just like Jesus was standing next to me, drinking a cup of coffee and just waiting there, patiently with me.

This bay was scarred. Scarred and marked from centuries, maybe millennia, of continual thrashing by the waves. The pic above is my oldest walking in one of those scars.And yet, those scars are one of the most beautiful things about that cove. In some of these pocks and holes made by erosion, are where the hermit crabs hid, the anemones, starfish and sea urchins had attached themselves. It’s where the cove really came to life to be honest.

This season that Iris and I have been walking through, we have posed the question “why does it always have to be the hard things?” I’m not sure if you have ever felt that way, but it seems as though we are constantly doing the hard. I know that’s not true. One thing I’ve learned is that when I start using extreme terms (like always, never, every time, constantly, etc.), that is a sign I’m not seeing things objectively. I am caught in a rut and can’t see out to see the bigger picture of it all.

And, another thing I have learned, is that in the hard, that is when we are formed and molded the most. That’s where I learn, that’s where I give pause, reflect, lean into community, lean into Christ….pray…the most. Yes, those things also happen in times of great rejoicing and in times of great calm. But, they most often happen when I’m being tossed and turned by the waves and situations of life. It sucks. I won’t sugar coat it. And for those of you who have gone through it, I think you would agree. And each time, it takes me a while, to finally come to a point of allowing it to happen and allowing God to show me why, as opposed to me trying to figure it out like it was some trigonometry math problem.

I’m not sure where you are in that process, but perhaps this brings you hope. Perhaps it lets you know that you are not alone and you’re not the only person to walk this road. Or, maybe it brought a bit of perspective. Either way, one take away for me…..the beauty is in the scars.

be blessed today

Are You Savoring the Finer Things in Life?

I like watching the food channel on tv. To me its up there with design shows both fashion and homes-it always amazes me what people can come up in their creativity. Seriously. Watch anyone of those shows and I’ll bet you can list off at least 30 different ways you can make a hamburger differently. Or what someone can do with a couple yards of fabric draped just so, over someones body. Or how a simple piece of wood can become an original, one of a kind piece of art in a home. It is amazing. As I have grown in my hobby turned profession as a coffee roaster and barista, I have also come to enjoy the fine subtle flavors of food and drink. I’ve come to appreciate craft made delicacies. I’ve also come to understand what the word “savory” means. It’s the richness or lushness of a particular food, that’s the savory aspect that I’ve come to appreciate and desire. Savory food is something to be savored-enjoyed, slowly in all of it’s complexity.

Last month I was gone for a week traveling with a friend through the Gobi Desert, the lower mountains and the massive sand dunes of Mongolia. I was so very thankful for this trip as it not only gave me the opportunity to see some incredible landscape, but also to spend time with my friend. A couple of days later, after returning and getting back into life, Iris and I were sitting down talking one night. “I’m so glad you’re back, I really missed you,” she said. “It’s not that I didn’t have a good time without you I did. And, it’s not like I couldn’t have enjoyed my time without you present. I could. It’s just that……I don’t know, It’s just that it seems…..it seems that life is more savory with you than when you’re not here,” she continued.

Savory. Not flavorful…though that is probably also true as I tend to be a little more crazy than  her. No, savory is what she said. But savory is the aromatics, the herbs, the right blend of spices that leaves that enjoyable flavor that keeps you coming back for more. Life is more savory. I guess savory could be a word used towards a work of art as well. There is something that is pleasing when looking at art, something that catches your eye and holds you fast to it. I, for one, enjoy Monet’s paintings as they are pleasant to my eye. The brush strokes, the somewhat muted colors, it is relaxing and peaceful to me. But in regards to something holding me fast, where I can’t move and, yes, even brought to tears…..Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son. It draws me in to all of it’s subtleties.

And I guess that is where I have landed with this place, this world, this life. This world is just not savory without Christ in it. Or, perhaps, life seems to be bland if I don’t have the savoriness of Jesus enhancing or even adding to the beauty that is creation. It’s black and white instead of in technicolor. It’s muted somehow. It’s like eating “dry toast…no butter, no jam, just dry” to quote a line from the highly theological My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Savoring isn’t just the “finer things” in life….it is life itself.

Today, I sat down to finish this post. I usually write my posts a few days (or weeks) in advance and do a simple edit the day I post them. But as I was thinking about this one today, I was trying to figure out what made today so savory. It came down to relationship. Not just relationship with “my people” be it face to face or via some app on my phone, it didn’t matter, it was simply relationship that made my day savory. Of course the whole day wasn’t savory…traffic, traffic isn’t savory at all. But the time in the car talking to a friend while in traffic, that was savory. Lingering, which I’ve written about before. To savor. As with anything, I’m learning that there is always something to be thankful for and now I’m learning that there is a savory part of life because of Christ that I’m beginning to become aware of. What is it about today that made it savory for you? Just curious.

be blessed today

 

Photo Credit: here

 

Snow-What it Does and Doesn’t Do

It snowed a little last night!

I love freshly fallen snow. I remember when I was younger, after a large snowstorm, I would often times go for a walk. We lived on a nice piece of property with a lake, forest and a meadow or two. I would walk back to the woods, stand on the edge of it and the meadow and just…stop. I would lift up my hat so my ears were exposed so I could listen to the silence. The only sound was the wind gently blowing through the trees. Other than that, nothing…pure silence.

If it was a wetter snow, the trees, shrubs and berry laden branches would be encased in a thin layer of ice, making it a a forest of glass. Simply beautiful when the sun was out (which didn’t happen that often in north central Ohio).

But what I loved most of all, was everything covered in the brilliant blanket of white. So perfect, so delicate, so soft. I would intentionally take the long way to the woods, following the line where the meadow met the lawn and walk the edge so that the view of the perfect blanket from our kitchen, wouldn’t be ruined by my footprints.

When our boys were really small, for two years our small family of four at the time, lived in a Russian city on the edge of Siberia. Just slightly inside of Asia, was our little apartment. It was on the first floor of a five story building, with a drive that passed the entry doors on one side and a main street on the other. However, the side with the main street had a “park” area with several trees that divided our windows from the mains street by about 120 or so feet (40 meters ish). This made it a beautiful “meadow” in the winter time. We never got large snow storms, but every morning there would be  dusting of snow. By the end of winter, it would be 2-3 feet deep.

But then would come the Spring thaw. Everything would melt and the grass would start to push through. Over the course of winter, our neighbors in the four floors above us, would throw out their trash, glass bottles, magazines, diapers, out onto this park area. We hardly noticed through out the winter as by every morning there would be an thin, untouched coating of snow. I remember one year, as it began to thaw there was a pornographic magazine that had spread open on the ground when it landed as tenants above threw it down. Not the sight I wanted to see, nor my two young boys when we looked out the window. it seems as though the “sins” of the winter became apparent in the thawing warmth of spring.

It snowed last night.

The words from Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool,” come to my mind. Isaiah doesn’t say that our sins will simply be buried under a blanket of snow or wool. Isaiah writes that they will be washed completely away with no trace. Our sins, our hurts, bad habits, will only be a memory but nothing that has to harm us anymore. They won’t be simply covered up. We are now whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7), we can give thanks for God’s incredible grace, compassion and desire for restored relationship with Him.

I do love the snow because it covers up the dry, muddy, ugly brown of the world around. It lays a beautiful blanket of white over everything. It brings a peace and stillness to the world. But, whatever lies underneath, whatever it covered up peaks it head again in the Spring. Whatever was hidden is only hidden for a time. It doesn’t hide it forever…it doesn’t clean it and wash it away forever. It’s hard for me to believe at times that God isn’t simply covering my dirt up to unleash a long list of my wrongs  someday.

It’s hard to believe that He washes us, cleans us so that we are whiter than snow. He has far more grace for us than we do for ourselves. I need to remember that-to give myself more grace, to become like Christ in that way.  We are to be open, honest about our struggles-He did make us human after all. And we also need to remember to give ourselves grace. We are whiter than snow, we just need to believe it sometimes. I just need to believe it sometimes.

I can’t wait for it to snow again.

Is it hard for you to believe God doesn’t simply cover up, but actually washes us? Do you have times where you chose to give yourself grace? What came of that decision? I’d love to hear your story and experience. it helps us all grow in our journey with Christ!