Thursday, July 31, 2014

Unscrewing My Big Toe

“We all need space, time, and place to ponder our Rubber band balls.”

That’s what August is for us—for Bill and me.

It is space to listen for the voice of God without the hammers of life competing for our attention. It is time away from the normal of life; the mail is on hold; the newspapers have been stopped; the responsibilities of home left behind.                                                                                                And it is a special place away from our home.

It is vacation.

Ocracoke, a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina was where this habit began. Bill loved walking the beach alone each morning. My choice was this wonderful coffee shop. After claiming my brew of the day, I found a comfortable Adirondack chair to be with God.

Then we discovered Los Vados, a rental home tucked in a canyon near Moab, Utah. Los Vados (The crossings … we crossed three streams before finding it.) offered solitude in the midst of the desert. I loved the covered front porch and spent many mornings lingering in desert beauty.


Most recently, our Sanctuary provides the haven we need to recharge. The property, an inholding in the San Isabel National Forest, boasts of a sea of green with majestic views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

All three, places of solitude and silence for us; places to be and places to listen. They are places to connect with God. They are some of my favorite “S-C” places.


I remember my friend Carole Mayhall calling places like this, places to unscrew your big toe and let it all flow out. Her picture communicated. And as the all of the busyness of the last year flows out, there is room for the new and the next to come in. Ahhhh, refreshing rejuvenation.

So as Bill and I are away for the month of August, Echoes of Grace is taking its annual vacation along with us. There will be no regular posts during August. But do check in each Thursday for special announcements. And I look forward to reconnecting with you on September 4 with a post about all our many choices.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He
leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23: 2 and 3

I hear it'll cure just about anything. ;)
I hear it'll cure just about anything.

Remember, to check in each Thursday in August. You won't want to miss the invitation you find there.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Go Back to the Beginning

These are God’s words to me for this summer—go back to the beginning.

In the past, I’ve heard, Sue, don’t initiate. Hard words for an extrovert who loves hospitality.

Others have shared their words—do the next thing.

But for me, for summer 2014, my compass points to go back to the beginning.

Right away I knew what God was saying. Not spend your quiet times in Genesis … “In the beginning” … or in John … “In the beginning was the Word”. Rather, go back to the first building blocks of our relationship. Review, ponder, and wonder again over the blessing of my adoption as a child of God. Be enthralled with how God created me and his purposes for me—the basics, the beginning.

It wasn’t an analgesic to cover up what I wish was.

It is an opportunity to listen and be reminded of my true identity and calling.                                         It is a trust that God knows me and has my days numbered.                                                                   It is a time to rest in the green pastures by the still waters.                                                                     It is preparing for the next, making room for more.                                                                                 It is yielding to being instead of doing.                                                                                                   It is the serenity of abiding.                                                                                                                       It is digging deeper into the good soil of truth.                                                                                         It is defining obedience for me this summer.

Go back to the beginning. There is still more to be captured—more beauty, more depth, more reality to the living Word.

What about you … what is directing your time with God this summer? What words are written in neon for you?

“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2

“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” Ephesians 1:4 and 5

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Curve Balls

“Have you ever heard of anything so bizarre?” 

Sadly, yes. 

Her question pleaded for understanding in the midst of the bride-napping of their daughter—their daughter invited to dinner by the boy’s parents and never returned.

Although I never heard of that particular curve ball, I cease to be amazed by Satan’s creativity; he has the curve ball mastered.

Last night, Yu Darvish's eephus pitch - a curve ball - in the All-Star game made national news. Most of the curve balls sent our way don't make national news, but they confuse and lead astray like last nights pitch.

Early last month, my cousin penned these words …
“About a year ago I dodged this bullet. But another shot has been fired and I'm not fast enough to duck this time. The infection in my right foot has progressed to the point where the IV antibiotics are no longer affective and the infection could threaten my life. So Monday morning, June 9th, I am going to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center to have my right lower leg amputated at about mid shin ... I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a bit of an emotional train wreck about the whole thing. I've seen it coming but you really just can't prepare yourself for something like this. Sometimes life throws you nasty curve balls. I'll just have to adjust my swing.”

He is in the midst of adjusting his swing.

I’ve mentioned my friend Kara previously. Her mommy days were seriously interrupted two years ago with the diagnosis of breast cancer. Her battle continues. Kara knows hard and knows grace; she shares her story at giving the gift of life to thousands while treading the valley of death.

Other good friends continue swinging at curve balls pitched to them. One longs to see their adult prodigal walk up their driveway; another’s daughter experienced a stroke 3 years ago and recently marital struggles have escalated. (You heard of these friends before. I know they appreciate prayers.)

The curve balls keep coming.

Space stops me from sharing Caleb's story, Nate's story, Katie's story, Faith's story, and, and, and ...

This morning as I walked with Lexie, our Golden Retriever, in the forest behind our home, I was awed by the delicate, beautiful Columbine, amidst the tall grasses framed by the charred trees. The aroma of fire from over a year ago still stronger than the sweet smell of the flowers. 

Through this crazy, wild, lovely picture, God reminded, it takes a very dark canvas to showcase beauty.

Paul did not deny his hard when he wrote from prison, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body.” Philippians 1:20

My friends don’t live in shame. They desire Christ to be exalted in their circumstances. In many ways, he already is. I am honored to walk with these people.

They are plugging their heads into sockets of scripture, like the Philippians verse above or Isaiah 61 and letting truth flow.

"To care is to be present to those who suffer, and to stay present, even when nothing can be done to change their situation." Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Caregiving. I hear my responsibility in these words and I am challenged. I want to stay present with my friends. I want to trust God with them.

My friend Sally Breedlove***, author of Choosing Rest shared a prayer of one of her friends, “Lord, let my life be a platform where the beauty of Jesus is revealed.” Sally testifies, she wanted God’s presence more than she wanted her problems fixed. (Chapter 4) Those could also be the words of my friends.

Curve balls resemble ashes.

They do not surprise God. He uses them as a platform to fashion beauty. 

I want to see beauty now. I tire of ashes. 

Each of these stories challenge my desires, my thoughts of right, my hopes, my faith. Hard threatens to consume. BIG threats but not big enough to consume. God is bigger!

What are the scriptures that give life as you experience curve balls? Let’s encourage each other.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”                                                         Romans 12:12

*** Sally Breedlove is coming to Colorado Springs to speak at a Sabbath-Living Retreat this spring. Stay tuned for more details!