Thursday, March 31, 2016

El Nino: Bringing Snow and Dissapointment

As a kid it was summer---every kid’s favorite season.  An opinion greatly influenced by three months of vacation.  As an adult I particularly enjoy autumn and winter.  I like the cold.  I take pleasure in rain and snow when it comes.  Occasionally the blowing wind feels great.  I live in the California high desert.  In winter we get some rain and historically, we get snow. 

I shivered with anticipation at a coming El Nino winter.  Most certainly I’d see a snow-day or two.  The mysterious dry-washes that riddle the desert would flow with water.  Weeks of brisk days and freezing nights would guarantee sweet sleep underneath down-duvet and colored quilt. 

I wasn’t the only one.   A ton of people purchased flood insurance.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency reported (that) insurers have written more than 55,500 new policies from Aug. 31 through Dec. 31, 2015 — a 25 percent increase.  So the snow came!  It came to the dry Sierra, bringing a much needed snow-pack to assure water for 2016.  An almost empty Lake Shasta experienced a massive replenishing of water.  The city of Big Bear, an hour away and only some short miles ‘as the crow flies’ got snow too.  And we got---what?

Snow fell all around.  The hills that make this a valley received fine dustings of white.  It snowed in Pioneer Town twenty-miles away.  Our front yard remained snow free.  I pulled my favorite winter jacket from the closet for one cool morning that got into the forties!  I spent this winter clothed in short-sleeve shirts.  Favorite sweaters remained in a box.  If dust caused rust our umbrellas would be stuck shut.  From the porch there have been great views of snow; always in the distance.

Summer may bring my long awaited rain.  I’ve heard that 60% of rainfall occurs during summer monsoons.  Summer rain comes with humidity; its more difficult to sleep under light sheets with fans blowing.  I hold onto hope that April will surprise me with the improbable Alaskan cold front.  Could happen.  Barring that I look forward to summer rain…and a week of vacation.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Shooting For Fame Completely Misses The Mark

Chariots Of Fire from Anchorsaway Ministries on Vimeo.

I’m never going to be a famous writer.  But the idea of fame completely misses the mark.  It. Is. Not. Even. Close.  I won’t be famous because I won’t leave my life and live out of a car ( a la Steven Pressfield) with only essentials and a lap-top to spend all my time typing up stories and writing my first novel.  I won’t be an Annie Dillard stealing away to a cabin for a year to write.  So many authors have stories like this.  But I confuse the act for the art.  I miss the heart of the writer which is the reason they break away.  The art drives them.

My search for a Pressfield quote led me back to The War of Art.  I am reminded; the art is the most important thing.  I write to write.  I’ve been writing since junior high school (a poem was a great way to sway a girl to go out with you).  Through junior high and high school I kept a journal.  I am compelled to put pen to paper, a need to process and synthesize life with ink. 

The struggle is to make time for family, and bills, and all the life interruptions while still writing.  This is where I feel I’m not dedicated or disciplined enough.  I choose other things over writing.  One doesn’t become a famous writer without writing.

Its not about fame.  Its about creating.  God is a creator.  We are created in His image.  Using what we’re given blesses Him that gave it.  Through my writing others come alive!  The pursuit of fame is a dead end.  Pleasure is the right pursuit.  I am reminded of two quotes from the film, “Chariots of Fire.” 

Harold Abrahams: If I can't win, I won't run!Sybil Gordon: If you won't run, you can't win.”  
Eric Liddell: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”  

I choose pleasure and hope you are lifted along as well.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jesus Served-The Heart I Should Have

Today Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.  I have that thought this morning as I bring my tired body to the keyboard.  It’s a strange overlay to think that somehow that act leading up to crucifixion has a bearing on me as I wade through another morning. 

Two hours from now I’ll drive to work where I’ll serve demanding customers who are hungry (first-world hungry) for fried chicken, cold-cuts and side salads.  I’ll spend another eight hours struggling to maintain a good attitude---to choose joy while working a job I didn’t choose.  I hope that in my serving I made some small difference in somebody’s day.  It doesn’t feel as if I’m living the life of a Christ follower.  I grumble more than I give thanks.

Certainly I’d serve differently if Christ hadn’t served his followers.  When customers curse, I’d curse back with a better curse.  I would simply see people with bumps and bruises.  There would be no eye to see them as they could be at their fullest potential.  The Son of God served.  I struggle with having that heart but I know it’s the heart to have.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fenced In For Good

A fence is two sided; inside and outside.  Often inside is safe, shielding from outside forces.  The house I grew up in had a backyard surrounded by brick fence and along that a green hedge.  Sam the Samoyed, furry and large, would lean into the hedge and walk the circumference of the yard; the hedge supporting and brushing his hair all at once.  Thus the green hedge had a white fur-line at dog height all year long.  The inside of horse stalls and rodeo corrals are lined with horse hair and bull shreds too.

At rodeo the young cowboys sit in a row atop the fence their shirts a quilt of color.  Apart from them the older cowboys lean, sideways near the gate maybe or with butt and backs resting on rung.  The fence supports while inside bulls kick and horses paw. 

Today when we think fence we think of aliens clawing out of their countries and trying to get into ours.  We throw up our hands and build up a wall because it will keep us safe, secure our resources and protect our children.  Because it worked so well at Babylon and Siloam---trusting in man-made towers and barricades.

God has set fences in our lives; visible and invisible.  Like the cowboy we can lean against them.  In leaning we say to our bodies; you can rest—no need to run right now.  We are safely hedged in; even when it looks like the bulls have stormed the gates!  We lean like Sam the Samoyed.  So too we are hedged in. Psalm 16 says, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance,” and in the Message it reads, “You set me up with a house and yard, and then you made me your heir!” 

Cowboys trust fence and gate (until the chute is opened).  Though we may say with the Psalmist, “Many bulls have surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me,” we need not fear.  The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places.  We are playing in our Fathers yard.