Bold

sunflowers impasto ch rs

I become bolder as I grow older — about things that matter.

“You could have a greater following if you didn’t talk about the, like, God stuff, you know,” people have told me.

I know. I know people regularly follow then unfollow me. But I also know some people read what I write because honesty and the faith journey in real time matters to them as well.

As I grow older some things become less important. I let them go. Most couple’s squabbles are not about destinations; they are about the fastest, most economical, or most enjoyable methods of getting there. Does it really matter? I’m letting go of discussions of methods and looking more toward the drive to understand where and to whom I am being drawn.

I read, with some amusement, an impassioned plea from a young woman with a keen sense of fashion right and wrong. She begged older women with less-than-pretty feet not to wear sandals that exposed thickened cracked heals or obvious veins. Our feet offended her sense of aesthetic at the sidewalk café.

She also advised against the donning of bold colours that drew attention to crepe-skinned necks or sagging upper arms or aged-spotted hands.

There was a time when I would have surrendered to her sensitivities and clad myself in sombre tones and closed-toed sensible footwear. Then there was a time when I would have worn scarlet and tangerine and royal purple accessorized by jeweled flip-flops just to annoy her. Either way it doesn’t matter anymore. Both were reactions to someone who has not yet had the time to develop deeper values.

She may care. I don’t.

Am I mellowing or just realizing that the time left to me is more precious than ever? As the attributes that once gave me identity and place in a competitive society fade I realize how flimsy that identity was. And the place moved like shifting sand.

There were times when I walked boldly across a stage with my head held up and my tummy sucked in. I mainlined applause. I felt confident. For a while. But it was always a race to keep up to changing standards I never understood. “Do this and you will be good enough for us to love,” turned out to be a lie, because as soon as I did it another requirement popped up.

When I was a teenager I joked that our family motto was, “What will people think?” The joke was on me because the question voiced itself continually throughout my life as I tried to guess what was required to be accepted by people whose values, I finally realized, I did not admire.

A kind of freedom envelopes those who find their confidence in a firmer foundation. I have messed up too many times in my life to believe that I am always right or that this is the final resting place of most of my opinions. But this I know: the One who began to transform my life is still editing the poem, the masterpiece He already sees. That’s where my confidence lies. In the Master Creator.

Like the brilliant flowers in the garden, I can wear whatever bold or subtle colour God has created — and he thinks it’s lovely. I can be quiet. I can be loud. The only rule is the rule of love – for God, for others, and for myself. And it all originates with Him.

We have full confidence in Jesus Christ. Our confidence rises as the character of God becomes greater and more trustworthy to our spiritual comprehension. The One with whom we deal is the One who embodies faithfulness and truth — the One who cannot lie.

~A. W. Tozer

 

It’s Time

juniper-community-forest-ch-rs-img_5700

The older I get the faster it seems the seasons change. Perhaps this is what is meant by acceleration. Time doesn’t slow down as you age. It speeds up.

Didn’t I just put those Christmas decorations in storage?
What do you mean the stove is ten years old? That’s our new stove.
My baby granddaughter has a learner’s driving license? How did that happen?

So many hours have slipped by in the dailiness of life. For years on end tedious routines filled in the moments that gave us freedom to make changes. I thought I would never finish school and be out on my own.

Then I was responsible for paying my own bills and making my own decisions.

I thought the diaper-changing, toddler-chasing years were my whole world.

And then they weren’t.

I thought I would never see the end of practically living in the car, driving the kids to school and games and music lessons and church functions.

And then they got in their own cars and drove away.

I thought I would never hear the end of students singing scales as they stood beside my piano.

Now my studio piano is silent as my computer keyboard clacks away.

I thought our parents would always be around to talk to, even if they needed more help.

Now there is only one left and communication is difficult.

It’s snowing today, and even though it feels as though it has arrived too soon it is late November. It’s time for the valley to turn white. The season changes once again. At a time of life when one expects to feel more settled changes seem to happen more rapidly than ever. It’s strange, this sense of time thing.

While it seems the only consistent thing in life is change, yet I am more aware that the most consistent thing in life is the love of God, which never changes.

The words of a song came to mind this morning.

In every season, in every change
You are near
In every sorrow,
You are my strength
You are near

A peace in the storm
Your voice I will follow
In weakness I rise
Remembering You hold my world

I’m holding on to hope
I’m holding on to grace
I’m fully letting go
I’m surrendered to Your ways
The anchor for my soul
Father You will never change
I love You, I love You

(From Anchor by Kari Jobe, Brian Johnson and Cody Carnes)

Anyway, the snow reminds me that it’s time to quit procrastinating. It’s a new season. I have a new assignment. I mourn the loss of colour and the ease of walking in the forest, but winter is a time when writers and artists are less distracted and can get down to work.

It’s time.

Save

Rise Up

standing IMG_7114_edited-1

What if a child labeled herself according to her past experience?

“I’m a roller/creeper. I’m a hollerer roller/creeper. I sort of go backwards and when I get stuck under the furniture I holler and someone comes and picks me up and gives me a ride back to the center of the room. Works for me. My unique perspective allows me to be an expert on dust bunnies and potential choking hazards society leaves lying about (thoughtless of the needs of minorities like me.)

Yes, I know it’s hazardous to my health, but I am compelled to put everything in my mouth, you know. It’s in my DNA. Why fight it?

I tried walking. Several times. It was a humiliating experience. Not my gift. I’ll stick to what I’m good at, thank you. Besides, my peers here in the nursery approve.”

 

At what age do we cease to look to our Father for our true identity? How old are we when we cease to hear the you-can-do-it encouragements of the One who knows our potential is vastly greater than what we have so far realized? When did we start to allow our peers in the nursery to set the bar for what is possible? How many ways have we justified stifling the urge inside that tells us that there must be more than this?

To live is to grow and to change. The past does not define us. Our Creator defines us -and what He sees is beyond our greatest imaginations.

Rise up.

Walk.

 

Unfading Beauty

sunflower steeple vertical DSC_0100ch

Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s creation I just want to cry and thank him from the bottom of my heart for moments like these.

But they are moments. I am anxious to get out there with my camera because I know these sunny wild flowers will fade and die within a week or two.

IMG_9403 eager hill sunflowers

Other flowers will replace them later -the lupins, the daisies, the bright red salvia- and they will be just as beautiful. And they will also droop and fade and die.

In landscape photography much depends upon the season and the weather conditions and the time of day and angle of the sun. I think my desperation to get out there when the conditions are right, even though the timing may be inconvenient for other obligations, is about an awareness that life is fleeting.

eager hill sunflowers IMG_9171

But temporary beauty is like a sign post that points to a greater, more permanent beauty that will not fade.

IMG_9339 sunflowers

I’ve been thinking about this verse:
But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:4)

IMG_9029 shooting star

I disliked it in my youth because of the way it and the surrounding verses were applied. The result was a rather oppressive less-than-lovely interpretation of freedom. Today I see something different. Some translations use the term incorruptible beauty, meaning beauty that is not subject to ugly decay like a corpse. Other translations say unfading loveliness or lasting beauty. All of them talk about a higher form of beauty -a gentle, quiet, peaceful spirit. “Not anxious or wrought up” in the Amplified version. Peace comes from within, but so does beauty.

I would not want to return to the type of sexual harassment I experienced in some of my first jobs, nor would I want to be embarrassed by the wolf whistles and remarks that came with walking past construction sites when I was 18, but like many woman I never realized how far my looks took me until I lost them. There’s that moment when you realize that being called a femme fatale is now more about your absent-mindedness behind the wheel of a car than your ability to be a lust-magnet. It’s actually kind of a sad day when attractive men confide in you about their romantic problems as if you have been neutered by “fading loveliness.”

Beauty is not the only currency. Many of my friends who are reaching retirement age have to face the realization that the currency that earned them a place of respect or usefulness in this world is not holding its former value. Surgeons lose their dexterity, musicians lose their hearing, and teachers lose their patience. Athletes and dancers face this reality sooner than actuarians, but eventually the time comes when we are replaced by those with brighter newer beauty, talent, or skill. We fight it. Man, how we fight it, but reality hits us square in the mirror eventually.

“Inward beauty” is not a euphemism for “nice personality” or “a great face for radio.” Inward beauty is more like the light that glows in a dark and dreary season. Inward beauty shines when a person knows they are deeply loved and cherished. The inwardly beautiful will not be plucked, stuffed in a vase, admired and tossed a few days later; they are at peace with God and themselves and can afford to love others gently and extravagantly because they know they have been forgiven much. Inward beauty does not fade or droop or shrivel or rot. It keeps growing through all the seasons of life because their intimate relationship with the Creator of such beauty grows on for eternity.

Eager Hill  southSC_0929ch

We’ve only just begun.