Reflections of a Hammock Dweller
A six week old baby girl lays on her play mat, kicking her little chicken legs and tapping me with the soft pads of her feet. She flails and grunts, grasping outward for a need she doesn’t understand and can’t communicate. I swoop her into my arms. We step through the back French door into the haze of the fresh new day. We cozy into a canvas hammock, eggshell with knitted trim, slouched from the rafters. Together we sway, slight creeks with each steady rock, as she nods into a dream.
Simplicity is far more peace-giving than the credit it’s given. Simplicity is flagged as immaturity, foolishness, denial, irresponsibility, clueless thinking, disconnect with reality. I beg to differ.
I seek beauty. Beauty encompassed in complexity of design and thought, intricacy of craft, captivation of imagery and creativity. The beauty of which I speak is not rare, not a buried treasure. I see it in everything. The vibrancy of autumn leaves, the symphony of melodies spinning circles around me, the joy in a stranger’s smile, the butterflies wrapped in a certain embrace. This is the work of a master artist, the Savior of my life, gifted to me that I may delight in it and better love Him in response. My love and excitement for the simple, the beautiful, does not rob me of a sense of reality. In fact, it enriches my sense of purpose and gives me hope in spite of the realities I face each day. Ugly things happen in this world, I have no false perceptions of that. But the harshness of reality does not own me. The more ugly I see, the more beauty I crave. I stand firm in the beauty of God’s love. I will not be shaken.
❝ Tangible wanderlust is awakened outside of kronos time ❞
Four years of transformation have come full circle. God knows what’s going to happen and always will. It’s foolish to ever think I would know better than God. I’m so thankful for the changes God has made in my life.
❝ Academic motivation has run dry. ❞
Around my neck, a key. Engraved in the key, a word. A word which represents something I hope to attain within myself. Once I feel I have attained within myself this word, it is to be passed on to another. Once I reach this, I give this key away.
Something tells me a key will hang from my neck for quite some time.
Fruit Comes Through Struggle
A wonderful story was sent to me:
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8
Last week Ken and I visited Tim, a friend from church, who grows several rare varieties of grapes on the hillside behind his house. I was surprised that Tim had planted his vines along a steep and rocky portion of the hill. “Why didn’t you plant the vines at the base of the hill?” I asked him. “The soil certainly looks a lot better-and there’s more sun.”
Tim smiled. “There’s a rule you need to remember when it comes to growing these special varieties of grapes,” he said. “When you feed them luxuriously with lots of nutrients and fertilizer, the vine produces a profuse bush of leaves and cane. But the fruit it grows is sparse and very poor. Oh make no mistake,” he laughed. “The plant loves lots of fertilizer. But it invests all those nutrients into growing lush, dark, beautiful leaves. And when the vine has finished doing that, it has very little energy left to produce fruit. It certainly looks like a beautiful vine. But that’s it. It just looks good.”
How, then, do you get good grapes? As Tim explained it, you have to make sure the grapevine struggles! You plant it in rocky, flinty soil, or you girdle the vine by wrapping wires around the cordons, forcing the plant to struggle as it tries to draw nutrients from its roots. This causes the distressed vine to divert most all of its prized and hard-won nutrients into the fruit, instead of the leaves. The result of these trials and tribulations is the sweetest fruit possible!
So… maybe the rocky soil and steep inclines in your life aren’t so bad after all. The trials and struggles, disappointments and setbacks you face, this “girdling” that presses you in from all sides… is a bruising of blessing. And you won’t bear a crop without it.
Lord, when this life is all over and I stand before you, I want you to find sweet fruit in my life… and not just leaves”
High in my nest five feet above the floor, restlessness has sunk in once again. Perhaps it’s the lingering bits of intense discussion exchanged over the last three hours. Could it be my ever frenzied existence manifesting counterfeit energy filling up what I’m lacking in sleep? Or just maybe, I’m in that familiar place- a place that embodies my greatest joy and my deepest struggles simultaneously. Cuddled in the softest of materials, I can hear the crashing waves as I lay my head down to rest. Regardless of the day’s events, I feel God’s presence.
Edna Ida (Wentling) Barr- July 19, 2012
Should you go first and I remain to walk the road alone,
I’ll live in memory’s garden dear, with happy days we’ve known.
In spring, I’ll wait for roses red, when fades the lilacs blue,
In early fall when brown leaves call, I’ll catch a glimpse of you.
Should you go first and I remain for battles to be fought,
Each thing you’ve touched along the way will be a hallowed spot.
I’ll hear your voice, I’ll see your smile, though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand will buoy me on with hope.
Should you go first and I remain to finish with the scroll,
No length’ning shadows shall creep in to make this life seem droll.
We’ve known so much of happiness, we’ve had our cup of joys,
And our memory is one gift of God that death cannot destroy.
Should you go first and I remain, one thing I’d have you do:
Walk slowly down the long long path, for soon I’ll follow you.
I’ll want to know each step you take that I may walk the same,
For someday down that lonely road, you’ll hear me call your name.
365 Days Ago
July 18, 2011 marks the day I departed for Ukraine. Exactly one year has passed since that day, a day which marked a monumentally life-changing three weeks of my life. I still remember the ride to LAX in one of Loma’s 15 passenger shuttle vans, sitting in the back next to Braden with Beth and Kaitlyn in front of us. I remember my phone call with Naomi, her prayer over me and my team, and her responding to my it-hasn’t-hit-me-yet feeling with “It probably won’t hit you until you’re sitting on the plane to come back.” I remember powerberries in bulk and the look on Craig’s face as he gallantly raced back to our van, toilet paper under arm and grin beaming bright. I remember arriving at the airport, meeting with Brian at the entrance, unloading those ridiculous Eagle Creek duffles, turning in our cell phones, parading through security, waiting for Craig while his bag got searched at security, sending Brian a prank photo before we even got to our gate, sitting on the floor waiting to board the plane while Craig did squats and lunges, taking ridiculous pictures before the plane was fully boarded, Craig getting yelled at by the flight attendants only seconds after the plane pulled away from the gate…I remember it all.
I still miss the salty sea air, sticky humidity and all. I still miss the fully packed days with a 6am to midnight schedule. I still miss the rubbery block of yellow grains and gray-colored meat smothered in gravy, the hot soup and smokey tea, the soft loaf of bread that never had leftovers, the garden fresh cucumbers and occasional tomatoes. I still miss loudly chanting loud love for Jesus back and forth between tables at each meal. I still miss that snack shop, with its orange Fanta and bacon flavored chips and deliciously inexpensive ice cream. I still miss the damp and dingy showers- reeking of mold and filth of all kinds, populated by spiders and frogs and children with no concept of privacy. I still miss all those germy little hands slapping five with ours twice each day. I still miss the handful of songs at each assembly, octaves above my range and at times incomprehensible to my American mind. I still miss those brightly colored gazebos and the uneven benches painted to match. I still miss being barefoot on a fully-packed swing while eating ice cream bars. I still miss sitting in the sand and gazing at the stars all night just to watch the sun come up over the sea.
The steps leading down to the sea and the moment I had while sitting there.
The boy who grabbed my hand to raise it with me in worship.
The love on the faces of my girls.
Her thin, fine, blonde hair-even cut just below the shoulders with straight across bangs. Her stickly little gymnastics body. Her red, white, gray, and black horizontal-striped tank top. Her attached-to-your-hip hugs. Her voice and the way she said my name. Her freckle-covered nose. Her eyes. I will never, as long as I live, forget Nina’s big blue eyes. Bright, wide, full of more love than I deserve. The last time I saw them, they were glassy and welling with tears. I’ll never forget that image.
It’s hard to believe it was a year ago. It seems so far gone, yet I can still remember every detail like it was yesterday. This trip, this experience, overturned my world from an upside down chaos that I knew I could never flip around on my own. I can say in confidence today, after one year has passed, I am completely transformed, and I am so grateful that God used Ukraine to do it.