I Wasn’t Supposed to Have Even One

All year, I’ve waited for the raspberries.  Finally, we have a single ripe berry on the bush this morning. 

I complain to my husband about how unproductive the berries have been.  “Look at the neighbor’s berries!  They have so many ripe berries! We have one!” 

“We weren’t supposed to have any this year,” my husband–the gardening expert–reminds me.  “The neighbor’s plants are mature, and ours are young.  Next year, we’ll have our berries.”

I wasn’t supposed to have any.  The truth of it resonates deep in my soul.  I expect and demand so much.  I look at all my worries on this Sunday:  my daughter’s possible gluten allergy, news of a sick friend in the hospital, my deadlines, my students.  I place them all in the great lap of God.  I’m humbled before that lap; I do not demand or complain. 

His great blessing brought into my life the very things I now worry about.  His great blessing–when I did not deserve even one of these things–children, friends, work or whatever it is–means I cleanse my heart and rejoice in the very things about which I want to complain. 

That one bright berry–when I wasn’t supposed to have any–tastes sweeter than you can imagine. 

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Journal:  Am I fretting over a blessing? 

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A Disaster Waiting to Happen

This morning, fog cloaks the neighborhood. I pull out of my driveway and cannot even see the house next door.

Every instinct I have makes the situation worse:  High beams?  No! Their light reflects off the fog and blinds me.  Brake and swerve?  No!  Sudden movements mean cars pile up behind me or I hit the thing beside me.  Drive up close to the car in front?  No!  No, no, no!

I read later about a “visibility expert” at Virginia Tech (Ron Gibbons) who devotes his life to the study of how to ensure visibility in fog, snow, or rain.  Most every instinct we have when we experience low visibility endangers us.  Instead, we must use low beams, tap our breaks as we ease off the accelerator, make no sudden movements, and pull over if we need to. 

And, perhaps most importantly, choose not to drive at all.

All day, I think about things in my future I cannot yet discern.  With that horrible visibility, I’m tempted to trust my instincts and react on impulse.  I’m tempted to engineer my circumstances (swerving, braking) and stay in charge of my life.  Really, I’m just a disaster waiting to happen.

What if I slowed down, pulled over, left the car and trusted a Visibility Expert?  When God obscures my path, I need not worry.  I just trust something deeper than instinct, deeper than my own control.

I pull over.  I rest.  I resist my frantic instincts.    

(photo by National Weather Service: Jackson, KY)

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Journal:  What can’t I see that I need to trust God for?

PS:  A woman in the English Department commented today that this bad weather wasn’t gloomy, rainy, or foggy.  “I like to say that it’s just juicy outside,” she says and smiles.  I love that!

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A Little Love Story

This morning, the little one plows into our bed and announces that she is about to lose her first loose tooth.

The world stops for a minute.  A first lost tooth!

In our family, we let Dad do the tooth pulling.  There’s even a title assigned to this role.  He pinches his thumb and forefinger together and calls his hand the “Extractor.”  The girls giggle and squeal as the Extractor approaches the loose tooth. 

Meanwhile, my daughter’s mouth contains exceptionally tiny teeth, and the Extractor can hardly get a hold of that one small front tooth.

I’m watching this dad–so large by comparison–bending low and peering inside that small mouth.  He examines with great care that little tooth and suggests we try to pull it this evening since it’s not quite ready.   It seems so strange, so wonderful, as I observe this interaction.

Is there anything too small for this dad to care about–to know so well?  Is there anything about his daughter that he wouldn’t stop everything for, bend low, and examine and tend to?

God whispers in my heart:  “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  I imagine myself as that daughter. Do I realize God knows everything about me?  Can it be true, as the Psalmist says, that our tears are on a scroll–part of God’s record?  Can it be true that, as Jesus himself proclaims  “even the very hairs of [our] head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid. . . “?  

A father knows–and cares deeply about–even a loose tooth.  What can happen to me today that falls outside the knowledge and loving attention of the Father?  

Living with flair means I realize that even tiny details about me are known, cared about, and tended to by God.  




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Journal:  What small event (that I’m tempted to think nobody cares about) might I entrust to God today?

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Not Even for a Second

I’m driving home from a depressing budget meeting where I learn that the English Department can no longer afford to keep many of its most wonderful instructors.  Courses might be cut, faculty might lose work, and entire departments could be reconfigured.  Times are tough, and my teaching future seems uncertain.

I’m moving along the road at exactly 2 mph because a blizzard swells about us.  With little visibility and no traction, I follow the line of cars for a 30 minute commute that should take 4 minutes.  Finally, the traffic breaks as I turn right onto a main road.  More traveled, this road seems clear and open.  I accelerate ahead, my mind replaying the budget meeting.

Suddenly I’m swerving and sliding in my lane.  You just can’t lose focus and drive in a blizzard, no matter how clear the roads appear.  My mind snaps back to the present moment like I’ve changed channels on a television.  And the picture in view astounds me:  a winter wonderland stretches out for miles, pure white, with fluffy flakes like miniature coconut cupcakes falling all around.

I continue on, and I force my mind’s full attention on the road before me.  I can’t let it wander–not even for a second–in these driving conditions.

Besides, it’s beautiful out here.

A danger threatens when I’m dwelling on that past meeting or fretting about a future that’s not even here.  I keep my hands on the wheel, look straight ahead, and marvel at the freshly fallen snow.

It’s the only way I’ll get home safely. 

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Journal:  How do I let my worries about the future rob me of joy?

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