An Unsafe Life

Anticipating rain, I wear my enormous rain boots out onto the Gettysburg battlefields.  I won’t dread the rain or flooding today!  But it doesn’t rain; it’s sunny and hot, and I find myself disappointed

I’m actually looking for deep puddles, sloshy ruts of mud, and soupy earth I might sink my boots into.

I march across a field with impenetrable protection.  There’s nothing to fear with boots like these.  As I think about returning home and marching onward into any uncertain or dangerous territory, I recall God’s protection:  impenetrable and so strong we find ourselves disappointed when life seems too safe to need it.  

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Journal:  Do you worry that life seems too safe sometimes?   

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Screaming “Base!”

Today I chase my daughter around the living room to tickle her.  At one point, she defiantly stops in her tracks, places one hand on the couch and screams, “Base!” 

“I’m safe!  I’m safe on base!  You can’t touch me!”  she insists, nodding her head and putting one hand up as a stop sign. 

I wait patiently for her to move from “base” only to find that as soon as she’s nearly in my grip, she just touches the wall and screams, “Base!” again.  

For little ones, the concept of a “moving base” saves them every time.  They just have to touch something–anything–claim it as their safe haven, and stop the attacker (in this case, the Tickle Monster).

She’s onto something.

I imagine enemy attacks against us in various spiritual forms.  I reach out my hand, wherever I am, cling to God and scream “Base!”  You can’t touch us here.  We are safe. 

Living with flair means I realize I’m on base.  

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Journal:  What do I need to scream “Base!” to as I claim my safety and protection in God?

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4 Questions to Protect Yourself

Our family has been on a mission ever since Monday.  Monday afternoon at precisely 2:20 PM, I look out at my beautiful garden and smile at the huge squash, the cauliflower, the tomatoes, the cucumbers, the eggplant, the herbs.

Then, I see him.  He’s literally looking up at me with a smirk on his face, holding a juicy cucumber between his paws.  I start screaming and waving my arms in front of the window.  I run like a mad woman down the stairs and out into the yard.  The groundhog merely saunters off and finds refuge under our back porch.  He’s huge.  He must look like this groundhog by now.  He’s eaten all my cauliflower, stripped the green beans, destroyed the squash, and decimated the cucumber.

We gather the family together and set up garden surveillance. My children watch from the window and begin making a list of questions like:

1. How does the thief enter?
2. When does he come?
3. What attracts him to the garden?
4. What will keep him out?

My dear, dear husband puts up a beautiful fence that very night.  But the thief knows how to tear through the wooden fence.  He can also dig underneath it.  So my dear, dear husband returns from the store with chicken wire that buries deep into the ground and ascends up high around the garden.

Finally, we can sleep easy.  What’s left of the garden can grown in peace and produce a bountiful crop.

All day, I’ve been considering the vigilance of our family against this intruder.  It was silly.  But what isn’t silly is real threats against the garden of my own heart and the hearts of my family members.  Scripture teaches us that there’s an enemy of our souls, and my daughters’ list of questions sparked a new awareness of ways I protect myself from “anything that contaminates body and spirit.”  That groundhog contaminated our garden, and we found a way to protect it.  We learned to recognize the how, the when, and the why of harmful intruders.  When things intrude and contaminate my own heart, might I ask myself that list of questions and devise a plan to ensure safe growth and a bountiful crop in my life?  What must go deep and ascend high about my life to ward off spiritual, physical, and emotional contaminates?

Living with flair means I protect and defend against contamination when I need to.

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Daily Flair: Becoming an Umbrella

Flair opened early this morning on the dreary mile walk to school. It was drizzling (drizzle is the worst: it’s indecisive and taunting with its half rain / half fog constitution) and remarkably chilly for March.

I have a huge bright blue and white umbrella. I like to spin it and do a little Gene Kelly dance as soon as I open it. And then, I’m driven by pure instinct to invite anyone near me in, to stand close, cuddle up, and stay warm. With my arm around a child or my head pressed to a friend’s cheek, I feel like it is a sacred space. It feels like flair.

And it’s no wonder I feel this way. Nearly every culture recognizes the important role of umbrellas and the treasures they protect. The umbrella’s rich history reflects how communities use umbrellas to shield their most holy objects, to announce sacred ceremonies, and to signal the presence of royalty. In Egypt, the figures of gods are covered by umbrellas, in the Roman Catholic liturgy, the umbrella covers the Most Holy Sacrament, and in the ancient Chinese book of ceremonies, the umbrella always covered imperial carriages.

What sacred treasures, what dignitaries were underneath my umbrella? Was that child, picking a nose and stooping to fix a sock that had inched its way down her foot, a treasure? (OK, that was my daughter)

I imagine that the umbrella doesn’t discriminate. I imagine the honor the umbrella feels to partake in the ceremony of walking to school.

What if I acted more like an umbrella? Living with flair means I open my arms wide to point out and protect what is sacred and of supreme worth in everybody around me.

This morning it felt like I walked to school with royalty. And I did.

Living with flair means I am an umbrella today.

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