Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Benefit of the Doubt

It's a phrase we don't hear much these days, but it's certainly a concession that packs a beautiful, powerful & humble whallop.

What does it mean to confer such a doubt-filled benefit upon someone?  Upon one's self?

First of all, it's a noun - concrete & exact, like an apple or the ocean.  More than a phrase, it's a state of mind or - rather - of heart.  It's a judgement, and it's exact meaning goes something like this:  a favorable opinion or judgment adopted despite uncertainty.

It has the power to dash gossip & unhinge juries.  It makes way for mercy & fresh starts.  It confounds the certain, and it certifies the counfounded. 

When was the last time you felt free to grant someone, or yourself this reprieve; the benefit of the doubt?

I have always found that mercy
bears richer fruits than strict justice.
~Abraham Lincoln

The glory of Christianity is to
conquer by forgiveness.
~William Blake

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Pumpkin in a Pear Tree

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone,
but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. 
~Author unknown, commonly attributed
to Martin Luther

Yesterday's early morning walk allowed me to consider again how very unapologetic is nature when it comes to it's duty. 

Never do I hear the Fir tree crumbling that it isn't a Rhododendron; nor do I witness the grass sparring with the rocks over which is more needful.  Even the rain seems satisfied with it's lot - inspite of, or because of, or perhaps ignorant of man's indignity towards it.  The sun never shrinks from the power granted it; and the winds follow their designated courses though no map is given them.
  • Forests welcome precipitation in all its forms.
  • Deserts giggle at drought.
  • Oceans swell & heave in powerful displays.
  • Mountains open wide their arms to receive ice & snow.
  • Rivers race to the sea to demonstrate their abundance.
  • Creatures exercise their instinctive rights without apology.
  • Starry skies make bold proclamations though no one hear.
In these, and so many other ways all of creation obeys their covenants - often in spite of that which would impede it from doing so.  And, when some element seems oddly uncharacteristic, a further examination often reveals an anomaly.  What is seen is not always what it appears to be.  Obedience is, afterall, creation's watchword. 

Indeed, His Gospel is forever on display.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—
His eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood 
from what has been made, 
so that people are without excuse. 
Romans 1:20

A Pumpkin in a Pear Tree

I love to think of nature as an unlimited
broadcasting station, through which God
speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. 
~George Washington Carver

Photo:  A nearby garden vine climbed the tree, giving the now-green pumpkin the appearance of having sprouted from one the pear tree's branches.  Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

An Audition to Remember

I have attempted to economize posts; doing so once or twice a week.  So I apologize straight-away about this new one coming so close to others.  It wouldn't be delayed, and I think you'll see why.  This is more than entertainment.  More than mere news.  It is a rare testimony given primarily in facial features.   

Come sit with me awhile and consider the many dangers, toils and snares that this young man & his brother have experienced thus far.  Today, anyway, I doubt you'll have a care in the world.

Have Kleenex at the ready, and don't be surprised if you find yourself on your knees ...


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Semper Fi

In the days following September 11, our children spent a good deal of time on the phone with us.  At the time we were living in Arizona, while two of them were here in Washington State and one in San Diego.  Like most of us, they were bereaved & baffled, and seemed to take comfort in chatting with the folks.  It was of comfort to us, too.  There is nothing quite like the bonds of family during a time of crisis or chaos.

Our oldest son, Brad, was in the Marines on active duty at the time.  He had been advised he'd be deployed, but he didn't know where, or even what it would entail.  It was top secret.  Even so, he had to pack and prepare, as did his wife and two children; he for his mysterious destination; they for a period without him. 

Within weeks he was gone, and none of us had a clue where he was for some time.  Iraq?  Pakistan? 

In time we learned he was stationed on the inglorious island of Guam - a speck on the map that is little more than a large rock in the Philippine Sea.  There, he and his fellow Marines were commissioned to guard our Southern Pacific shores from who-knew-what; and there he remained for well over a year.

I'm not sure why I'm sharing this other than to say it has been among the many vivid recollections I've had in these days following the 10th anniversary of the horror played out on 9 / 11.   Our son is no more noble than all the others that ramped up to heal this nation then, or now; but he certainly is representative, as is his wife & children.  Sacrifice has new meaning in these contexts; so does duty.   

Hardly a day passes that I don't consider the subject of service in general, and of duty in particular.  Both are the unique privilege of servants. No wonder Jesus linked ministry with duty; living with giving:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and their high officials exercise authority over them.  
Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great
among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first 
must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come
to be served, but to serve, 
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  
Matthew 20:26-28

Semper Fi - Shortened by the Marines
(Latin for "Always Faithful")

I love you Brad & Megan!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stitches & Hems

…and begged Him that they might only touch
the hem of His garment.
And as many as touched it
were made perfectly well.  
Matthew 14:36

These verses support the earlier theory concerning the Old Testament account of David and Saul, i.e. that the hem or edge of a garment stood for the wearer's authority. The woman believed that if she could only touch the hem of Jesus' garment, she would experience the power of His person and authority. Her act was not a matter of superstition, but a silent cry for Jesus to grant her His personal attention and healing power.

I don't know about you, but sewing machines are akin to spaceships to me - - fascinating to consider, but impossible to personally employ.  My first real foray into their use was when my children were small, some 35-40 years ago.  I attempted to make this or that for them; stuff they couldn't possibly wear by the time I'd completed it.  Alas, when I eventually cut two left sides to a dress for myself, I rid myself of the tedious tool in favor of all things store-bot.

Today I am ever-so-grateful that I need not sew for myself the sort of garments required of God's people in the early days.  Yet I have often considered why, exactly, people would want to touch the hem of someone's garment as those in Jesus' day did.  Why not reach for His hand, or throw yourself in front of His path?  Why not reach for His pocket, or His cuff?  Why the hem?

To get an answer to this query (and so many others), I dig back into His teachings & requirements as found in the Old Testament. 

The tallit & it's fringes, the tzitzit, help me to better understand my own query.  These items were part & parcel of the authority of God and His people.  They were to remind each Jewish man of his responsibility to fulfill God's commandments.

In fact, the tzitzit are tied into 613 knots to constantly remind them of the 613 laws of Moses, of which there are 365 prohibitions (The "thou shalt not" laws), and 248 affirmations (the "thou shall" laws).  The knots also correspond with the ineffable name of God, the unspoken yod-hey-vav-hey, Yahweh. 

In and of themselves the tzitzit held no power.  Their importance didn't lie in the material, the design, the color, or even their placement on the garment, but in their representative power.  Imagine the Logo emblazoned on a Letterman's Jacket, or we Christians wearing a Bible around our necks.  The symbol is associative. 

Digging further, we learn that nearly all cultures had their own tzitzit.  But God employed what was common in that day to remind His people of His authority & commandments, and their responsibility (and privilege) to obey it.

It is why David cut off the comer of Saul's robe, symbolically demonstrating that the king's authority would be cut off.   It is why we see some of the women of Jesus' day reaching for His hem, having recognized His authority & power.

I'm so grateful I don't have to make for myself a tallit with tzitzit (couldn't they have come up with better names?).   I dare say I'd still be at it, with no hope of ever getting it right.

Today I am free to go sewing-machineless, boldly & directly to the Power Source, to the very Throne Room of God. 

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace
with confidence, so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help us in our time of need.  
Hebrews 4:16

SOURCES Jews for Jesus; The Refiner's Fire

Friday, September 9, 2011

From Sea to Shining Sea

This week, Cap'n Hubby and I spent several days navigating the waters between the Puget Sound and those of the Washington State's Uppermost San Juan Islands.  Locals are well-acquainted with the legendary beauty of these seas, especially when fair weather makes for a Mariner's Delight.  Such was our experience.

Just a few scenes & scenarios to share with you ...

Packed & ready to go!
The First (and Only) Mate 
awaits Cap'n Hubby's dockside pick up.

The Marina drops the "Irish Wake" into the water.

Our first day's journey took us from Tacoma up through the waters
of the Puget Sound, passed Seattle & onwards to
Port Townsend across rough seas (aka white caps
& rollers that freaked me out).

Safely into port, Cap'n Hubby settles us in.

Nothing like a bit of Chinese Food for hungry mariners.

Before heading into the San Juan Islands, 
we detoured via Whidbey Island
for a nostalgia trip.  First stop:  Admiral's Cove,
where hubby's now-deceased parents once resided.

Whidbey's second stop was hubby's parents first/primary home,
where our children grew up around their dining table, tide-pool
laden beach, stormy/windy breakfront & panoramic views of the
the shipping lanes & freighter traffic.

We roosted long & overnight here in Friday Harbor.
What a busy, touring-rich target it turned out to be!

Here we are pointed decidedly towards Sinclair Island (with 
incredibly rough seas impeding us), and with Mt. Baker beckoning
us onward.

As a point of reference, Sinclair Island was - for many years - the summer home for Hope & Max, hubby's father & mother.  It was also a vacation destination for we and our younguns, where many a summer was spent combing the beaches, picking wild blackberries & making berry cobblers, reading vast numbers of books, sleeping deeply & long in the cool/salt-scented air, and making so many memories none of us has yet been able to capture them all!  Hope and Max are long-departed now, but not the footprints & seaprints they left us.

This is the Post Office on Sinclair Island;
an island inaccessible by any means other than private boat 
or chartered bush plane (that landed on a cow pasture; and our
children's favorite way in).  The Post Office dock was a favorite
destination of our daughter Molly's - perhaps 
because it captured her imagination, or because it was
just so darned cute - or both.

Here we have the "cabin"; now missing the
tree swing out front, as well as the infamous windowed
outhouse.  The new owners have also put new steps &
siding on it, but nothing can mar the fingerprints left
on the windows left by OUR children! 

As we eventually made our way South, and home again,
we enjoyed our route via Deception Pass as we headed
down the backside of Whidbey Island.

In silence we navigated, enjoying the 
brisk but sunny salt air, the occasional 
visit of sea lions, seal & dolphins,
and the memories that flooded & nearly 
swamped us - - a welcome, though 
unexpected by-product of our sea journey.
We went out expecting a sea adventure, and
returned with a boatload of nostalgia.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thong-Wielding Warrioress

Lining both sides of the east/west boundaries of McKinley Park - the haven of delights across the street from my childhood home - were Cedar trees.  Lush & pungent, by the time I met them they were gnarled & sinewy & stunted - - no doubt the result of the clamoring of children.  Long before I nestled myself in their boughs, others had done so.  They were surely the castles & kingdoms of many a childhood fantasy; and surely they were mine.

(The pool at McKinley Park, with my childhood
home as a backdrop)

I learned a good many things in that park.  It was there in the 3 foot depths of the pool I learned to swim, and to play (most of the time, well) with others.  I built many a mountain & moat in the sandbox.  I grew agile & fearless at the heights of the Monkey Bars.  I learned to steer clear of clover with bare feet lest risking a bee sting.  It is where I encountered, and dispatched my first bullies.

Bobby & Tommy Yerbery were neighbors.  Their father was a policeman; and their house boasted a collection of scrapping boys.  My father was an industrious house-painter; and my house boasted a collection of frilly girls.  They delighted in tormenting me ... though now, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, their torments were largely of the pigtail-pulling type.

But one day all that changed. 

Having had enough of their intimidation, I removed my thong (hopefully you remember when THAT meant a rubber sandal, or a flip/flop?), and took out after the bigger of the two, Tommy.  I figured if I bested him, the other would think twice.  Once my lanky legs caught up with him, I beat him within an inch of his scrappy life with that thong advising him that he'd best cease & desist or risk another such lashing.

They became two of my best friends, not to mention allies. 

It's good to know how to wield a Thong, though I've found better means of resolving conflict now (I think).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Disclaimers, Footnotes & Apologetics

Hardly a morning passes that I don't spend time quietly reading scriptures and listening for God's whispers.  That's not a boast, but a confession.  You see, when I don't start my day that way, I often find myself shipwrecked by 9am (if not sooner).

A by-product of my morning musings is the frequent brainstorm (the source of my blog posts).  Of such a thing, Merriam informs us about it's meaning:
  1. a violent transient fit of insanity, or
  2. a: a sudden bright idea b: a harebrained idea
That said, I guess I'll have to let you decide which of my posts fall into which category.  

But let me further confess a couple of additional items.

I'd like to think everything I post falls into the suddenly-bright-idea type - - inspired, inspiring and encouraging.  That wish might well fall into the transient fit bucket, but I can hope ...

I would also purpose to not to be verbose, or come off with great swelling words.  Surely that would & should be categorized as harebrained.  Besides, if I want you to visit and to read what new brainstorm I've crafted, I know I have to keep it something short of Dr. Zhivago-est in length or risk a "sorry, I've gotta dash" outcome.  But that's not to say there won't be a bit of sass interwoven.  Afterall, a Sassy Granny MUST employ a wee bit of such :)

In all ways, my desire is to carve (sometimes bushwhack) a trail here; a trail I'd be proud to have my children & grandchildren follow (the very mission I declare in my Profile).  I dare say, that trail may have thickets & thorns at times, but they are never meant to impale or impugn or impede ... not me, not them, and definitely not you.