Category Archives: lost & found

The Delicate Art of Flying Blind

This crazy phrase. It’s been creeping around in the back of my mind and simmering just below the surface of most every thought these past few months. I just can’t shake it. I decided to look it up.

Classically it means: “To fly an airplane solely by relying on instruments”.  So, I imagine it’s dark, maybe stormy, or otherwise disorienting, and there’s very little, if any, outside guidance or support.  To make it through, you’re gonna have to rely on experience and the tools you have right where you are.   Uh huh. I get that.

The phrase came into use during WWII and was soon after jettisoned into the broader understandings we refer to today.

This “urban” definition summarizes it nicely:   “Doing something tricky (flying) without the basic faculties for doing it”
Oh, and this one: to “Feel one’s way, proceed by guesswork”

Lawd yes… that’s the one.

Y’all… these days are full of emotion and tricky business.    I mean for me.    Personally.    In addition to the headlines and general craziness of the world at large, right here — for me and the man— it’s “ramping up” a bit.

I’ll try to explain: imagine hand-crafting a boat. You’ve spent years planning, researching, acquiring materials, and working on it in your spare time because you’ve had to hold down a job to keep the project going. It takes a little longer this way but it’s worth it. You learn a lot. You’ve got a great deal of “sweat equity” invested and it’s a very personal experience. As you get to the point of near finish, you start planning The Maiden Voyage. All this time you’ve been building in the safety of the harbor, taking a few shorter test runs close to the shore, but that’s not what this boat was made for: it’s time to consider the longer journey into deeper waters.

So here we are: deepening waters.

Not long ago, our youngest home schooled student submitted the final work to complete his high school journey thereby ending a journey of my own.  Second only to raising 3 children (a lot more “flying blind”!), home schooling them was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done— but I’ll go down on the record here and now: it was worth it.    Sure, I didn’t get the family “math gene” to pass along, but they are strong-willed and wonderful, beautifully artistic and creative communicators who know Jesus, and I am oh so proud they are ours.

A page is turned.

Like many churches, ours has a Graduate Recognition Sunday. A few folks searched my heart for sadness and sure, I sniffled through a mixed bag of tears.  However, the blessedness of the moment was not lost on me. Earlier in the week that young, strong-willed, and adventurous one had surgery for a major mishap which nearly robbed us all of this moment of celebration. The Mama in me could clearly picture every other scenario alongside the one before me and I was just SO thankful we were all there. So the few times someone remarked about our “empty nest”… all I could think about was our “full next”.

It’s “pleroma”, the God-kind of full.

I know this….even on the days when the fog of fear and doubt threatens to cloud my vision. Navigation seems trickier (is it really?), and the unknowns start to pile up like mountains all around us. How will we ever ________ ??  On these days, in these moments, it really does feel like I’m flying blind….just ”Feeling my way… proceeding with guesswork”.

I have a plaque with Isaiah 42:16 written on it once belonging to my sweet mother in law. It was a gift we gave to her on the occasion of her retirement and I honestly can’t say that then I gave the verse the kind of consideration I give to it now. I see this plaque every day, several times a day and I’ve pondered this verse deeply. It’s become personal…a place of abiding with the Lord.

However, I didn’t notice this until recently: the verse on the plaque is wrong. See it there… at the end?  For some reason the makers of the plaque decided to use the word “you” when really, in every translation I can find including in the original Hebrew (thank you Biblios.com), it says “them”.     God “will not forsake them”      Them what?

Well, depending on which translation you’re looking at, the verse may read that God is not forsaking those He’s leading… which is true. I mean, if you belong to God then you belong to God always. He will not forsake you. However, other translations— including the Hebrew seem to point to how God is not going to forsake “these things”… things that He will do: lead, guide, enlighten, straighten, make smooth. This is what God will do because this is Who God IS.     To whom?

To the blind.
The dependent.
The needy.
To those Who trust and obey and submit to being led step by step through those places they do not know, through the dark, rough and unfamiliar territory.

It’s a trust thing.

For me it always boils down to a trust thing. Can the control freak in me handle “flying” blind? Can I handle that there are things I do not know, being weak and dependent on God to lead the way?          Do I trust Him?

Thankfully, God knows I’m a nervous “flyer”. He’s very patient with my weakness.  He knows I trust Him even while He’s teaching me to ever trust Him more….that’s one of His “these things” He’s not going to forsake.   It’s helpful you know, to recognize that this verse, these promises are not about us. Sure, we benefit but ultimately all the things….are about God.  

I don’t know what the makers of this plaque were thinking when they decided to use the word “you” but I’ve corrected it.  Does it really matter?  Yes, I believe it does. 

Because although I know that as a child of God He will not forsake me, I’m not dependable enough to base a promise upon. Maybe right now I’m somewhat “blinded” by circumstances and realities and can not fully see how to get to the other side.  That’s ok.  God sees and I can trust His unchanging nature and promise to lead, guide, enlighten, smooth and fly us safely to that “full next”.

Pleroma…God’s fullness. In His way and in His time.
   This blind little bird can bank on that.

Dear Children… About Your Inheritance…

“I need something.”

The cryptic words from College Son flashed across the screen. After 3 weeks of minimal contact, this could mean almost anything. Historically speaking our relationship dictated this typically meant some research advice or proofeadery.

“What?” I replied while  bracing my jetlaggy brain for a challenge.

“Your recipe for spice cake.”

I stalled.

Ummm….  Seriously?

Inheritance Title

See, this is no ordinary recipe for no ordinary spice cake. I’ve been making and perfecting this dreamcake for over 20 years. This is my closely-guarded recipe for THE spice cake  I’ve kept tucked under my (ahem) “belt “ all this time.  It’s the kind of recipe a Ninja-Chef really must have in their personal arsenal for special occasions and surprise guests, new baby welcomes and potlucks. Savory, spicy-sweet and best of all: sinfully simple. I don’t part with it easily.

My daughter asked for it a year ago. Unbeknownst to me, she entered a contest and won a 250-dollar gift card to Ikea. She bought a chair. A chair. (Isn’t that like selling your birthright for stew? Never mind.)

Something they’d grown up with, now it was College Son’s turn to ask.

“Never.” I teased. Emoji-smiling, he explained that his girlfriend (the one I am trusting God to make my DIL someday!) wanted to make it for him.

At least she can cook.
From scratch.
My mock-resolve melted.
I sent it.

“There.  Now you have your inheritance.” I said Emoji-winking back. Digitally, we exchanged smiles, hugs and kisses and he was happily on his way with a piece of his family history. Truly, as silly as it sounds, he now possesses a solid piece of his shared inheritance.

Doesn’t seem like much, does it?

It’s no surprise though that if you took any of our children aside and asked them about their inheritance, three out of three times, their first response would be a mixture of low-toned laughter and chagrin. They know, by the worldly definitions, we’re “broke” and planning to be “broke-r” before it’s all over with. At least this is the current nature of our estate in terms of dollars and not a whole lotta sense!

Love And Marriage

Still I have a strong feeling in the pit of everything within me that their next response will be a knowing and satisfied smile. Because in reality, they know we have given them everything we have to give and oftentimes it’s been far more than anything our parents were able to give to us.  They also know it’s never been about money in the bank.

Make no mistake: it’s been a touchy subject through the years as they’ve reached the ages and stages where their friends were given cars, educations and luxury items we never were able to afford—at least not the way most people have done it. There have been many tears and tantrums on both sides of the equation. But we’re here. We’ve made it and we’re better than intact: we’re whole.

And while we pray there’s still plenty of time to amass more “wealth” to add to their inheritance, there are many things besides a knockout recipe for spice cake we’re striving to leave as our legacy– solid and eternal things we hope they’ll always treasure and, if Jesus tarries, preserve and pass along to many future generations.

The Family Bible

I hope they’ll find treasured comfort in knowing that we not only loved them and each other to the highest best of our ability but that it was a love deeply rooted in our shared love for God.

I hope they’ll find great inspiration in how we found this God-love so wild and wonderful that it was worth risking our place in a world-driven status quo to spend an adventure-filled lifetime stumbling along the lesser travelled path towards His greatest good.

I hope they will hold close and share often the stories of these adventures–many spent with them– and discover this same courage in themselves to step out in new directions to spend and experience their one beautiful life serving our one amazing God.

Humbly I hope they’ll cling as tightly to Jesus as we have because they’ve witnessed time and again how His grace, mercy and forgiveness have seen their two imperfect parents through many…  many….   many times of failure.     And every success.

I hope they’ll talk about how their Mom “trusted God and sought to pray the hell out of any situation!”, how their Dad was never so afraid of failure that he wasn’t willing to try—fail and try again and how both of them together fought arm in arm against the enemy who came to seek, kill and destroy their marriage and family.

And how through that same powerful grace from God, together… they won.

The Great Commitment

So that here now and in the future when they’re possibly surrounded by little ones of their own and telling the “once upon a time” portion of our newly-written family history— when they talk about the things they share together, most of the story will be told from the perspective of vast wealth and riches— of lives that were shaped and held together by God— all the while knowing and communicating that their inheritance from us was never merely “enough”:    it was always everything.

That’s our prayer.

And that amazing spice cake?
Well,  that was simply a bonus.

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Critical Mass

 

Back in the day there was an advertising campaign that said, “If you want to capture someone’s attention, whisper.”  I’m sure it sold a lot of perfume.  Honestly, that notion has never been more relevant than it is today. It’s so freaking noisy.

In this day of mass consumption and mass communication everybody has the ability to talk things to death and beyond, leaving little room for the thinkers, doers and listeners. We’ve been pushed to the fringes, trapped on the jagged cliffs of Mt. McBlahBlah while the lemmings leap over us to their deaths. Somehow, we need to regroup and remember there is a better way.

Critical Mass

You don’t necessarily have to be “qualified” to become an outspoken expert in the field of   ALL THE THINGS— along with half a bazillion others— myself included. I realize this truth.  However, there is something important to be said for motive, wisdom, logic and integrity—necessary ingredients for any decent conversation. I must ask myself this all the time, “Where is your heart anchored”? Because Jesus said that’s where the words flow from.

Until yesterday, I refused to read the recent news. I couldn’t. Not because I do not care or don’t want to know. I simply could not bear the cacophony and white-hot frenzy of more “qualified” experts quite unwilling to listen, hear, empathize or, for God’s sake, REASON with any level of intelligent compassion. Genuineness and integrity getting tripped up and stomped on by those just “here for the show”.  Loud voices with fingers poised on the trigger of their chosen weapon, lobbing word bombs from the safe distance of their comfortable homes. Bang-Bang.  AK-47s may not be the most dangerous weapons in the room considering the power of mob mentality versus the truth.     Think about it.

Satan couldn’t possibly be more pleased. Chaos and confusion—his specialties— are in perpetual supply and we have become a society that thrives upon them. His task is so easy now: drop the hint that the problem is “out there” in the form of terrorism, sexuality, religion, politics and patriotism—whatever. Set the bait, stand back and watch hungry masses tear one another to bits because somebody took a bite out of their sacred cow.  It doesn’t take much because we’ve reached the point of critical mass: the bare minimum required to initiate and sustain a chain reaction.   We’re close.    Feel it?

Sadly , it’s all satan has ever been good at: fear-flavoring every good thing. “Did God really say….?”  BAM:

Doubt.
Confusion.
Anxiety.
Self-ishness.

That one question reverberating across every “modern day” situation we face.  If somehow we buy the lie or at least invest time doubting God’s faithfulness, presence, goodness…or existence… a chink in our armor forms just wide enough for the arrows to bring us down.

Real damage is being done by all the “Us’s” and every “Them”.  No matter where you stand, it’s nearly impossible not to feel the anxious, spiritual buildup like the forges of Mordor rumbling beneath our feet. Not everyone will acknowledge these things. Too many prefer living anesthetized lives of stupefaction through various forms of media and medicines. Numbed and dumbed by an excess of pleasure thinking we can somehow avoid the pain while ignoring how even amongst the most successful in our society, the suicide and drug abuse rates are climbing steadily.

Because there is real pain. But the fact remains that what we’re experiencing in our world today — every bit of it— is not the central issue. These are *symptoms*. Horrible, horrible mutations and manifestations of the terrible disease of sin within.

You know, sometimes.. I can imagine why Jesus wept.  Standing before Mary, He knew even sparing  her this moment of pain would not stop it’s flow immediately. Looking out over Jerusalem then, wanting to gather that city safely into his arms, surely He could see ahead to the world as it is today. His heart was grieved that even in light of His example and sacrifice, choices were going to be made to look away and hurt others anyway.

Even as a Christian, sometimes I find myself wandering into the middle of the fray forgetting that’s not they way we have been called to do this business of life. Sometimes I struggle to remember that God is not a part of the chaos and has no need to shout past Calvary. It is finished.  So how can I live as a part of the “it is finished” people? What is there to say on behalf of those who have to exist in the midst of a world entangled in all the “These things” Paul talked about?

It was this statement this past week from Audrey Assad that brought me back to the center of the issue and before the cross:

Not Easy to Offend

I was reminded that though I’m a warrior for the Gospel, my anchoring and methods of doing battle must be radically different from what I see around me today.

Sometimes I have to take a step back from the noise to gauge more clearly and remember thankfully, our Savior is still speaking ferocious love through the same, steady whisper throughout the ages:  “Return and rest.” ,  “Be still and know.”  and then  Go and tell through and with our stilled, knowing, returned and rested lives.

Salt and Light: It’s how we can be the healing, preserving and seasoning of salt while we illuminate and guide with our light-saturated lives.

Being still, knowing, returning and resting doesn’t seem like much of a solution when you look at it in view of the chaos.

Seems too basic—like putting a bandage on a gaping wound. Instead it’s more like a kiss from God on that ancient snake bite that doesn’t just heal for the moment…it’s the cure— the antidote for the poisonous sin deep in our souls.

And perhaps, in this age of hyper-awareness it may be the only way we can “capture the attention” of this noisy world around us so that the healing Gospel can whisper through the chaos.  It’s my prayer: Let them see Jesus in me.

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