Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Heaven's Portal

A doorway framed in heaven’s blooms,
Arrayed with jasmine – scented dew.
From here to beyond, a step away -
His mansions just outside our view.

A step between our known and there,
A breath away, and tears that swell,
As shadows mock - as shadows do,
We know He's true, and all is well.

That portal to eternal realms
Carved so carefully by His hands
Just a doorway, just a step -
From shadows to the sunny lands.

.
FOR CINDY - WHO TODAY STANDS THIS
SIDE OF THAT PORTAL, IN ALL READINESS -
JUST A STEP AWAY ...
.
We'll see you on the other side my friend.
.
On May 13, 2008, at 4:30 PM
Cindy quietly slipped through
the portal and into the
sunny lands.
.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gone Fishing

I've decided to take a few days off. I'm writing several new blog posts, but mostly I'm being lazy. Time to grab my pole and tackle box, hike from the house to the chaise lounge in the backyard (my kind of fishing) and rest the brain a bit.

I'll be back ...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

I've lived long enough to see major shifts in the way we live life. In fact, in the past 150 years alone we've gone from grammaphones to Ipods, from open flames to microwaves, from morse code to cell phones, from the stagecoach to cyberspace. It's apparent we are decidedly bent towards technology like a willow stooping in a strong gale.

Cell phones baffle me. Well ... actually I'm baffled by most technology so I'm not surprised (remember, I'm a word-buff and not scientifically inclined). The thing about cell phones that's bazaar to me is how analogous of my relationship to God are they. "Go figure" you say?

Let me see if I can explain it briefly and simply enough for it to make as much sense to you as it does to me. Cell phones ...
  • ... must be switched on to be of any use
  • ... may be programmed with unique ring tones
    to identify specific individuals
  • ... allow for messages to exist out there in
    cyberspace until I'm ready to listen
  • ... can be silenced or ignored altogether if I
    choose not to receive a communication
  • ... will alert me when you've missed a call
  • ... will store messages for later review and
    response
  • ... allow me to delete what I don't think is
    important or necessary to keep
  • ... must be within range of a strong signal
    in order to transmit either to or from
  • ... will drop a call if I get out of range of a
    strong signal
  • ... allow for me to be found anywhere, at
    anytime so long as they're switched on
  • ... can be used for playing games rather than
    their originally intended design

Obviously this isn't a Theologically sound treatise, but a few items that come to mind with this particular subject. I just know that every time I use or even look at my cell phone I'm wondering: Can I hear Him now?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Trajectory

By now most of you know I have a penchant for words. I collect them like others collect tea cups or coins.

Today I ran across the word trajectory again. Immediately my mind conjured up images of a bow & arrow, next a rocket, and then yard sprinklers.

My heart conjured up something altogether different; it was more of a question than an image. It went something like this: if I were to continue along the same course I'm presently following - whether it be my life, the thoughts I think, the decisions I make, or the behaviors I embrace - where will my trajectory take me?

Guess that's worth pondering awhile.

Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Proverbs 4:25-27

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Seeds, Tornadoes & Those Darn Chickens

Living now these 60 years I've learned a wee bit about agriculture. I wouldn't want to move to the Heartland and begin growing crops with what I know (we'd all starve), but I would like to applaud the rare breed - the salt of the earth - that feed us. I believe it no small wonder the Lord used their trade to teach us a good many lessons.

In the fabulous movie "Secondhand Lions" there are a couple of scenes where Garth, Hub and Walter are busy about the business of planting/sowing, and eventually reaping. In their fancy bibbed overalls we first see their farming prowess when they are diligently depositing this seed and that in the soil they've cultivated - the three having at last combined forces (in a coup d'etat against evil nephew Ralph and his clan).

Row upon row of varied vegetation is marked with row posts describing the feast to come: carrots here, corn there, peas here, beets there, string beans here ...

Fast forward. It's now harvest time and where once existed mere clumps of brown soil, lanky green stalks blow in the wind. The garden is in full array and it's completely breathtaking. The three stand proud, eager to partake of their crop.

But wait! Something's not quite right.

Upon further investigation, they discover the wily salesman that sold them the seed in the first place has been less than honorable. Seems every seed they deposited in God's good earth was corn. Their beets are corn. Their green beans are corn. Their entire herbaceous harvest is corn!

Sad scene (except you're laughing hysterically), especially when you realize they've reaped exactly what they've sown - - knowingly or not.

As long as the subject is sowing & reaping, how about the mental image associated with sowing in the wind (who'd do that anyway?). Apparently it happens, and it will get you an altogether different result - - one you're not going to like any better than a lifetime supply of corn. Fact is, the Bible says that when we toss seed into the wind (that could be a whole blog all by itself), we are going to reap a tornado. Odd thing to tell us, huh? I don't know about you, but I would think twice about summoning such a whirling dervish. Truth be told, had I thought twice instead of once (or not at all) in my yesteryears, I could have saved myself a whole lot of wind damage!

Since we're still in the farming realm I might as well meander over to the chicken koop for yet another reality check. Seems there's a sowing/reaping parallel in the old saying: "Chickens come home to roost". I've had a few of those feathery follies show up when I least expected or wanted them. They roost at the darndest times!

I'm not all that wild about shucking vast vats of corn, or attempting some Dorothy & Toto fete to survive a tornado, or even trying to understand just what implications might be attached to having a few roosting chickens. But this I know: I'm more likely to get a result I can abide if I ...
1) ... know and trust the seed Giver
2) ... make darn sure I know what I'm planting
3) ... make darn sure I know where and when to plant it
4) ... stay out of the barnyard (well ... how else to avoid roosting chickens?)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Watchful Gazes

Directly across from the house of my childhood there was a magical kingdom. Until I was almost a teenager, I thought that kingdom - a sizable park/playground - just about the best place a child could ever hope to visit. I visited often. It boasted a clubhouse, tennis courts, baseball fields, swings, monkey bars, a wading pool and many ancient cedar trees that were bent and worn into secret camps and lofty perches.

Among my favorite memories is the annual event that involved opening the pool. 6 inches deep at the edges, the gradual descent into the middle lead to depths of 3 feet. It might as well have been 300 feet when I first began splashing in it. My Dad would lead me by the hand - at most I was 2 or 3 years old - and walk me around the edges for hours on end. Does a child ever tire of such things?

Eventually I was given swim lessons and allowed to play alone at that pool. Well, sort of alone anyway. You see, from the kitchen dining nook at my house was a direct line of vision where my parents perched whenever I was off to play alone. They were out-of-sight to me, but I was never out of their sight.

I thought I was such big stuff in those days when, all by myself I'd traipse to the pool to join the other swimmers. Sometimes I'd sit for a long time trying to get up the courage to go into the pool; while at other times I'd rush headlong into the deepest end - squealing with delight as I plunged.

There were times when I found it comforting to peer over my shoulder to see a familiar vague form in the kithen window. Mom or Dad - and sometimes both - were perched there looking back at me. How proud I was when they'd wave, as if to say they could see how brave and big I'd grown.

If ever I encountered a bully (and there were many), Dad would come hustling over to make sure the bigger child knew they were messing with the wrong person. His adult frame and stern gaze as he stood at the edge of the pool was sufficient in buying my freedom from torment. In silence he stood there, and I knew I was safe to splash and swim safely.

Then again ... when I was the tormentor, or doing something verboten, I could be pretty sure that formidable form would be standing at pool's edge beckoning me to get out; play-time had ended, and lesson-time had begun. Home I'd go, often to a scolding and some time alone in my room. It was there - and then - that I would remember how much I cherished my parent's proud gaze, and how sad I was when they'd been replaced by disappointed or concerning ones.

Looking back, I see those watchful gazes so differently from that of my childhood view. What joy and comfort they are, and so typical of the other watchful gaze I relish today. What safety and peace - what rest - there is in such.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT4yIBeIC2Y

Turn up your volume and rest awhile too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sassy Sisters

Kathleen, Carol, Barb & Dolores

In 1948 - the year of my birth - the Wells family headed by Jim (46) and Helen (42) consisted of Dolores (15), Barb (13), and Carol (7).

I entered a well established heirarchy within one of the most loving & godly homes this side of heaven. No doubt they were all a bit unsettled by the addition of this sassy new sibling, but the years have proven to strengthen our bonds in ways none of us could ever have imagined.

These, then, are my sisters.

Dolores ... the prototype for June Clever and family rudder. Her faith is unrivaled; her mothering and grandmothering prowess a model for we that followed her.

Barb ... Betty Crocker's understudy, the kitchen is her favorite haven. She and the energizer bunny have much in common! Her love for woman prison inmates has become very much a part of her destiny.
.
Carol ... the quintessential conversationalist with a heart bigger than her wee torso can contain. It is no strange thing to find her rooted in Mexican soil now, ministering to the needs of a community she has come to love as family.

These are wives, and mothers, and grandmothers - each with a gentle and kind spirit. These are hard working, Bible believing, family devoted, country loving, friendship providing, tenacious women who grace my world with color and dimension.

These, then, are my heroes!







Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fabulous Flamingo Flock

Imagine our surprise to awake to a yard full of flamingo. I know birds migrate, but these particular birds came from the other end of our neighborhood (compliments of Gary & Nancy Allen).














They say "A picture is worth a thousand words", but in this case I think not ...

I'm thinking these birds ought to remain just to see how long it'll take the Homeowner's Association to advise us that pink flamingo aren't on the approved yard decor list. Then again, they might just have to migrate to a new home. Mmmmm ... let me see ...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Did You Say "Obey"?

What does it mean to "obey the gospel"? Now and then I run across scriptures that speak of its importance. Then, as I sit awhile to reflect on the personal challenge they represent I am struck by the beauty as well as the severity of this command to obey.

Surely the gospel of grace doesn't include obeying? Let me see ...

Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?”

2 Thessalonians 1:8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the familyof God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

I found the following definition, and I rather like it:

What is the gospel?

Few questions bear the weight of such imporant, thus biblical clarity in response is critical. Sadly, confusion about the gospel is quite common among professing evangelicals today.

I find Graeme Goldsworthy’s comment all too relevant: “The main message of the Bible about Jesus Christ can easily become mixed with all sorts of things that are related to it. We see this in the way people define or preach the gospel. But it is important to keep the gospel itself clearly distinct from our response to it or from the results of it in our lives and in the world.”

The following definition of the gospel, provided by Jeff Purswell , the Dean of our Pastors College, seeks to capture the substance of the gospel:


“The gospel is the good news of God’s
saving activity in the person and work
of Christ. This includes his incarnation
in which he took to himself full (yet sinless)
human nature; his sinless life which
fulfilled the perfect law of God;
his substitutionary death which paid
the penalty for man’s sin and satisfied
the righteous wrath of God; his
resurrection demonstrating God’s
satisfaction with his sacrifice; and his
glorification and ascension to the right
hand of the Father where he now reigns
and intercedes for the church.“

Such news is specific:
... There is a defined ‘thatness’ to the gospel which sets forth the content of both our saving faith and our proclamation.
... It is objective, and not to be confused with our response.
... It is sufficient: we can add nothing to what Christ has accomplished for us -- it falls to us simply to believe this news, turning from our sins and receiving by faith all that God has done for us in Christ.” (Oh ... here's the "obey" clause!)

So that is the gospel: God’s saving work in and through Christ. And the cross is the pinnacle of that work.

Source: http://www.t4g.org/ (Together for the Gospel/Sovereign Grace Ministries)

This definition may sound very elementary, but it packs a whallop when you actually scratch the surface (like the perfumed paper inserts embedded in magazines).

It's one thing to know the gospel, or to receive it, or to hold it in high esteem. To obey it is an altogether different matter.

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Boy am I ever glad that the God Who made it possible for me to believe, also made it possible for me - even me - to obey!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pepper & Salt

I just had to do that ... rearrange the syntax (isn't that a great word, "syntax"? It's just so ... well ... Bible-sounding, even though you won't find it in any translation I'm aware of) normally associated with salt and pepper.

We vocalize these words as though it is only logical that one follow the other, or that it might be improper grammar to put pepper ahead of salt (like Mrs. & Mr. instead of Mr. & Mrs.; or paste-tooth instead of toothpaste) ... Wouldn't it be ghastly to give pepper a place of honor it doesn't deserve ahead of salt?

How about we initiate a paradym (another incredible word!) shift, and from now on let's give pepper pre-emminance.

Excuse me, m'am, would you please pass the pepper and salt?

I'll add my own pepper and salt later, thank you.

OK, so what does this have to do with anything anyway? Perhaps nothing, but I can't help but wonder how many things we consider "sacred" that aren't. How many rules - grammatical and otherwise - do we embrace that actually give us more grief than grace? How many of our moments are wrapped up in saying it, or doing it right?

Don't say "ain't"; it's not a real word.

If you don't eat those beets you're going to see them again at breakfast.

You can't wear white shoes after Labor Day.

Pink and red clash; you'll have to change into something that matches.

If I don't go to church today someone might think I'm unChristian.

To this day (thanks to daughter Molly circa 1978), cedar bedding material is "bartybeuk"; while people stroll along "walksides". She isn't dysletic. It just worked.

It is for freedom that Christ
has set us free. Stand firm, then,
and do not let yourselves
be burdened again by
a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

As a matter of fact, I think I'll put on my pink shirt & red jeans while I pepper & salt something.

It works.

P.S. Let's make no mistake about the things that are sacred. While I'll be pressing for pepper's ascent, I'll be seeking yet more salt in my life; light too. It really works!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Child of the 60s

Confession time. I am a child of the 60s! That said, I must further confess that my psychedelic experiences were anything but colorful or rebellious. I smoked cigarettes. There you have my claim to 60s fame! (It wasn't until the 70s that I had my wild & crazy, brief & boring collaboration with alcohol).

But oh did I love that 60s music. Still do. How about Chubby Checker, and Bobby Vinton, and Paul Anka? Or who do you know that equals the Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, the Righteous Brothers, or the Beatles? Songs like "Johnny Angel" and "Walk Like a Man" still bring a smile to my face. Then there's "Hang on Sloopy" (huh?), or "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" (huh, huh?). I never did figure on the "Purple People Eater".

Today I heard an oldie that made me LOL (I just recently learned that means laugh-out-loud ... some of us are real slow learners). Singing was Nancy Sinatra, "These Boots are Made for Walking." As I traveled time, it was as though I were perched before American Band Stand in plaid skirt and saddle shoes -- oogley eyed while listening ...


You keep lying,
when you oughta be truthin'
and you keep losin'
when you oughta not bet.
You keep samin'
when you oughta be changin'.
Now what's right is right,
but you ain't been right yet.
.
I know it's kind of hokey (Merriam says that means corny), but that particular verse had a ring of truth to it - especially the "you keep samin' when you oughta be changin". In the background of my thoughts I recalled that rather clever definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over hoping to get a different result.
.
I think I spent a lot of years samin' before I came to the place of changin'. Maybe I just needed some boots for walkin'. Then again, maybe it was the straight and narrow path that made the changin' a better option than the samin'.
.
It's sure great to be a child of the 60s AND a child of the King!

Fan of the Flan Clan


Brad, Molly, Kelly


Officer & Gentleman/Marine, Fabulous Financial Consultant, Sensational Sales Manager

CAPTION: Still my babies
"When I grow up, I wanna be just like Gilligan", Kelly (age 7-ish)

Oh, the ambitions of youth! When I think back to the early years - those days in between 1969 with the birth of our first, to the early 1990s when all three were all off to this adventure or that - I marvel not only at the swiftness of it all, but at just how their individual life journeys appear today.

Brad (to be 40 next year), is Marine extraordinnaire - the first and the finest when it comes to tackling new adventures - be they tie flying, canoeing, model making, cyclng, mountain climbing - the list is endless.

Molly - a princess with strong arms and an even stronger heart - juggles motherhood and career better than any I know. She is the keeper of "fierce" in the family - be it in her direct approach to life, or the undaunted flourish she exudes in tackling anything that comes her way.

The baby (that clever bat fisherman) is zest personsified. I know of no one that loves or embraces life more fully than he. He has a smile that is, I'm certain, the cause of global warming.

Proud? You betcha! They're still my babies - and besides my life in Christ - the best gift I've ever been given (unless you want to begin an unending saga on grandparenting?)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Different Sort of Summons

Next to receiving an envelope clearly marked IRS, an envelope that announces a Jury Duty summons before ever breaking the seal always stirs a bit of apprehension in me.

Why is it that before I know when or even if I'm supposed to show up somewhere I'm already thinking of all the reasons why such a summons might be troublesome? The questions I ask myself (as if I'd know ... ) are myriad: How long might this jury duty last? Who'll cover for me at work if I have to be away more than a day or two? What if I have to decide the fate of a seriel killer (like Ted Bundy)? What if I'm selected foreperson? What if I'm sequestered for three months or more (like in the O.J. case)? Blah, blah, blah ...

Then there are those dusty, rusty rememberings from school days: the principle would like to see you in her office ... an equally nerve rattling summons.

Merriam says that summons are:

1: the act of summoning (to issue a call to convene); especially a call by authority to appear at a place named or to attend to a duty
2: a warning or citation to appear in court: as a: a written notification to be served on a person as a warning to appear in court at a day specified to answer to the plaintiff b: a subpoena to appear as a witness

Yikes ...

And then there's this:

I will give you the treasures of darkness,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know
that I am the LORD,
the God of Israel,
who summons you by name.
Isaiah 45:3
.
Yes, it's a summons of a different sort - only this one engenders a sense of peace. Wow ... to think this summons is, in reality, an invitation like no other. Just what do you suppose those "treasures of darkness" are, anyway?
.
Well, there I go again ... asking questions I couldn't possibly answer.
.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Water Colored Memories



KIM, KATHLEEN, LORI



Memories, in the corners of my mind ... misty water-colored memories

So it's the laughter we will remember ... whenever we remember, the way we were... the way we were...

Oh those wonderful Hawaii days and evenings. Lappert's anyone?


MATT, KATHLEEN, TERRY, GREG, LORI