even in his sleep…

my body is all bumps and i lie lumpy in bed, feeling my baby kick and squirm within. it’s 3 a.m. and sleep evades. i feel quietly sorry for myself. beside me, my husband is shrouded in sleep. i long to be in that place with him. watch the way moonlight traces his jaw and wonder, will our son look like him? suddenly, a kick so sharp i softly moan and out of the shroud my husband’s hand reaches, rests gently on my head, and i breathe deep. sleep soon cascades, pulls down eyelids and i join my husband in the Land of Nod.

in the morning he tells me, “i remember putting my hand on your head. i was praying for you.”

how fortunate am i, that even in his sleep, my husband loves me.

foolish flowers

my windows are bleary, wet with cloud-sadness. i sit, phone to ear, and dial Mum. ask her how she’s doing–whether she’s feeling blue on this gloomy day.

“oh no,” she replies in gentle tone. “i appreciate the rain. it’s God’s way of watering my flowers.”

my throat catches in guilt and i stammer out a conversation while the rain clammers for my attention, washing clean panes of glass.

later, i wonder: does God really care about Mum’s flowers? why would he? they are useless save for their fragrant beauty. here today, gone tomorrow, would he really spare rain on their account?

then my eye catches the picture of the lily tattooed on my wrist: the flower which reminds me of Jesus’ voice, saying:

“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” (Luke 12:27)

God cares about Mum’s flowers.  He cares enough to make them beautiful, that she might smile. He cares enough to send rain that they might grow, though they’re quick to fade.

my mind flickers to the story of the woman pouring an alabaster jar of perfume across Jesus’ feet… i see it trickling, expensive liquid on soiled toes, and i see Him smiling, turning to her as she blushes and blesses Him. lavishes love on Him, love which has cost her everything… love which appears foolish to all except Him.

this is worship. not raising hands in church on Sunday, but instead, living in spite of ourselves, every day.

pouring out our alabaster jars. despite the cost.

and drinking in the foolish flowers.

prodigal God

we think of ‘prodigal’ as being ‘wayward.’

in truth, it means ‘wastefully extravagant.’

so reveals worship leader Brian Doerksen in his new musical, prodigal God…

what other truths are we missing out on?

i am reading brennan manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel and sensing a theme … God is sewing a theme with light gold thread… a theme of wastefully extravagant grace.

i find myself cowering on the threshold of everything i’ve ever known: it’s so easy to reign down angry. to belittle and begrudge. so hard to believe i am loved.

yet i am. as are you. not for who i am. not for who you are, but in spite of the thorns on our stems and the prickles on our souls… we are loved.

in a wastefully extravagant way.

seasons of life

i sit quiet in the flush of wind which breathes through open windows. outside the sky is crying. i sit, and let autumn befriend me with its cool moist kiss. summer is fading, waving goodbye on stalks of ever-yellowing corn husks.

once again the earth is being laid bare in anticipation…

we, too, have seasons. soon, i will turn, as if tilled soil, from woman into mother… and in awe of that, i feel my soul being laid bare. stripped clean. ready to have new seeds of life planted deep.

oh be gentle, little one … i am new, as are you, to this way of being. take my hand and we’ll walk down a trail of fallen leaves, out of the rain, into the warmth of autumn sun…

spider’s web

i sit flannel-clad on the steps of my home staring at the finely tuned webbing of  a spider’s masterpiece. newborn sunlight takes baby steps across the threaded strands–glinting white. the spider hangs, his work finished, from a nearby post. resting.

he took a risk, webbing his home here. against all odds: careless hands swiping away hours of intricate sewing, the bugs being few or none in this foreign place. but still, against these odds, he wove. alone, through tenuous hours… knowing it was all he could do. and then, he waited.

he didn’t sit and rub hands together frantically. nor did he run around in haphazard commotion trying to feel productive. rather, he sat, and waited. trusting.

for him, it was a matter of life or death. he strung up his web that he might eat, and live.

for us, we work to pay bills and put food on the table. yet how many times in the off-hours do i find myself rubbing hands together, fretting? turning bleary eyes to heaven begging God to help, when he has already promised to do so?

all we can do is weave our webs. that is what God has put us here to do. and then, we are to wait. resting. relying on him to provide, that we might live.

AIDS photo

she’s crouched over like a praying mantis. coffee-bean skin stretched tight across jagged jaw. beside her, an empty cradle. place where baby once lay, ragged blanket in its place. lives stolen by AIDS. they say we’ve seen everything, what with tv and movies, but still, my heart stops. grabbed by the hands of this forceful photo. i cannot breathe and i wonder: who am i to complain?

my un-birthed baby

DSCN7188

i lie there in the dark, lime green moonlight peeling through window blinds, trent’s easy breathing on the pillow next to mine. put my hand against my 32-week womb, heavy with un-birthed baby. he’s dancing in there, my little jumble of elbows and knees. the books say he’s able to think now–i wonder, what about? and what are thoughts without words?

i feel his shoulder slide up against my warm palm. ache to scoop him out, to hold him. “only a little while longer, tiny one,” i whisper while the father of my child shudders in his sleep-cocoon.

here i am, mother of soon-to-be Aiden, wife to sweet Trenton. in the stillness of night, beneath the shadows of a new day, i weep for the wonder of it all: life’s brevity and breadth, babies and kisses, and men who keep their word.

and within me, my womb pulsates.

bike ride

bike painting

the sloped road reminds me of my eight-month pregnant body… curved hills, riding the distance. each day i bike, pedals chasing pavement. the asphalt is a black thread tying together quilt-patches of colour: corn, barley, wheat and beans. above, sky as blue as the sea. trees fringe the fields, green tassels.

everywhere i look: colour. bright, effervescent hues of harvest. soon, fall-time will burst into flames of orange and red leaves… then, winter, with dizzying white. and finally, spring–its face like a newborn’s. colours young and fresh.

why did God make such a beautiful world? why not just shades of brown and grey? everywhere i look, my eyes dance across his holy palette. i imagine his smock–streaked with every colour imaginable. his fingers, permanently covered in paint–like mine.

and then i realize: he delights in giving us pleasure. he made the world lovely just to make us smile. as i bike, i cannot help but breathe in the beauty, leaving behind the ugliness of adult worries. God wants to give us good things. this lends me hope. and for a moment, it’s just me and the black-threaded road–trespassing on his masterful artwork.

(painting by me–www.canvaschild.com)

meaningful vs. mundane

she reminds me of simple accomplishments. feats like doing a load of laundry, or cooking a batch of granola. little, seemingly insignificant things like taking a shower or watering the plants… my mum finds meaning in these, and joy upon achieving them. brain cancer has taught (forced) her to slow down and measure each step with dignity and grace. to rest when she needs to. to sing, to dance, when the mood strikes. not letting the tick-tock of the pendulum disturb her beat.

meanwhile i rush through tea with her, in the hopes of accomplishing something meaningful. in the hopes of stamping my name across the world in unforgettable strokes. i race the pendulum, trying to make up for wasted seconds spent doing laundry or taking a shower or watering the plants. or singing. duties which, in the end, comprise life as we know it. duties which, in the end, determine who we are, because of the spirit in which we’ve carried them out.

isn’t that what serving God is about? serving him amongst the mundane? trusting him to make meaningful the merest of moments? pausing to rest, knowing he will take care of my dreams, my aspirations?

the other day i heard his voice over the grumble of my own heart: “don’t be hasty with my dreams for you.” MY dreams for you. God’s dreams for ME.

and then: “once you’ve learned to be content with nothing, i will give you everything.”

NOTHING. this scares me. and yet, he’s promised EVERYTHING.

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

a man named Bogdan

his voice is thick, his stories fast, tumbling rocks down a slippery cliff and i find myself stunned by this interview–paused in my typing: staring up at his scratchy, powerful words.

i’m talking to Bogdan: a missionary from Poland, who serves the homeless in Calgary. Bogdan, who’s been put on trial for feeding the hungry. Bogdan, who came to Canada seeking democratic peace, now persecuted for telling the gospel to over 1,000 street people each week.

his faith is simple: if God wants the ministry to continue, God will provide. his faith is real: Bogdan sees this trial as a chance for the gospel to reach the judge and jury. and while he and his many volunteers have been kicked out of two parks and forced to meet in front of the City Hall, they continue to serve Calgary’s 5,000 homeless, four days a week. because that is what Jesus has called them to do.

i’m humbled by this interview, stopped dead in my tracks, forced to wonder–do i know what it is to live for Christ? shouldn’t we all be facing persecution for the good that we’re doing?

i’ve been so focused on earning God’s blessings, i’d forgotten about the other half… blessed are those who MOURN, who are PERSECUTED, who go HUNGRY… these, in God’s mind, are true blessings. not money in the bank, or food on the table, or luxurious vacations.

i lower my head and contemplate: this Christian life is hard. but i would hate to get to the end of it and realized i’d never truly lived.