Monday, August 29, 2016

Positive Perspective: Life Can Change On A Dime

A small e-mail and a world of changes.  My note to Johnny said in short: “I’m in a smaller house, I’m no longer in my marriage and I’m within miles of Joshua Tree National Park.  There is room in the house for a visitor.  Let me know when you can drop by.”  Johnny died of cancer shortly after our correspondence.  I’m happily remarried and living in a beautiful house—closer still to the National Park.  Sitting at my desk in 2006 I couldn’t imagine how much could change in ten years.

Life can change on a dime.  For good and for bad.  Out of the blue my store director asked me if I’d manage the ‘new’ Coffee Bean kiosk.  Change on a dime.  A dalliance with E-Harmony led to marriage.  Change on a dime.  The cough is cancer.  Change on a dime.  Christ comes like a thief in the night.  Change on a dime.

“Will we see the sun at last? Or could this be our lot in life?”  I get stuck in a rut and think it will never change.  It is a battle to gain correct perspective and look at the big picture.  I can see the beautiful canvas for everybody else-just not for myself.

If it’s looking like another hard day in a season of hard days---I need to pull back and look back at the last year (or years).  What positive things happened?  What positively turned out?  Not enough perspective?  Read other people’s stories for hope (The Old Testament is full of them.  Or Instagram?)  Then embrace the ups and hold-fast through the downs.  It may change on a dime.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Best Marriage Advice: Don't Settle and Keep Shoveling

I wanted to shout, “Run, run.”  I knew it was coming for her though.  Some day; like it comes for so many of us.  Yup.  The daughter just changed her Facebook status to “In relationship.”  I don’t really know what that means but take it to be some point between a first date and walking down the aisle.  There’s so much I want to say to her but so little she’ll hear.  It’s first love.  Raise your hands if you rushed into that head-over heels.  How many tripped over themselves in the process?  So many bloodied knees and hearts along the way. 

Stories and statistics witness that marriage be entered with sobriety.  My knees have been bloodied too-I’m five years into my second marriage.  My wife and I are committed for the long haul.  Just doing that is good—but not enough.  I want more. I want intimacy.  I want romance.  I hope we all do. 

Wanting isn’t enough.  As a child I knew a handful of divorced people.  Now I know a handful in strong marriages---and some of those are second-go-around.  So what can I say to my kid?  To the woman in her thirties starting her third marriage?  To the oh-so-many that have settled? 

Don’t settle.  I’ve screwed up; sinned, stumbled—pick the verb.  I have this romantic stupid streak inside.  I believe it will get better.  I think Bob Goff said it-Live in grace.  Teacher John Piper has this thing about the manure pile.  In essence he says crap crops up in marriage; look at it, deal with it, and agree with your spouse to take it out to the manure pile.  Perhaps the best advice for marriage is this: Don’t settle and keep shoveling.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Way Out Of The Wilderness

“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, get bit by a mosquito, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivats.” 
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

 Wilderness cuts both ways; testing and blessing. Daytime temperatures peak at 120, the nights cool to the mid-nineties. Hot and barren the days, day after day. No cool wind (any wind seems a cool wind at 120 ); few thundershowers.  I hunger for that cold breeze, for the sight of water falling over rock or waves crashing against rock and sand.

Dry, hot, intense and waiting for change.  This has been a long summer season, “Deep water faith in the shallow end.”  But life happens on different levels.  Like this desert.  Springs form from faults; aquifers run deep underground.  There is life giving water. 

There are tantamount blessings on my plate; food, happy marriage, darling daughter, two great vacations this year including Spring in Yosemite.   Work and ministry are dry areas.  No driving vision; nothing pulling me hard forward.  ‘Seared by sunfire’ I don’t look for shade.  I search for fullness.

Tourists in Palm Springs can take a tram up past timberline.  Most mountains require sweat before they reward you with beauty.  The desert will bake you if you bask too long.  Movement is the key forward.  The mountains lure is that they are reachable.  God is a rewarder of those that seek Him. Walking forward is the way out of the wilderness.  “He changes a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water.”