Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Writing with Four Legs: Wonder upon Wonder

Author's Note: Dakota, my 3.5-year-old yellow lab, is guest blogging today. She was a 2014 April Fool's joke that quickly turned into a foster situation. Her peaceful, honey-colored eyes and sweet, quiet temperament ultimately won us over and she became a permanent member of the family.

Occasionally she has things to share. Here are her thoughts...from under the Blue Table.

Today is Bob’s birthday. I’m excited because I’m guaranteed there’ll be wrapping paper on the floor at some point during the day. Michael and Sarah are home and they’ll be available for petting and playing. Jenn will cook, so there’ll be tasty spills on the floor for me too. I'm excited about "wonder upon wonder" just like it’s written in Isaiah 29:14. 

I hear Jenn say “praise upon praise” sometimes. I’ve heard “blessing upon blessing” said once or twice before too. "Wonder upon wonder" is my favorite. It describes my life.

Most days, Jenn throws the ball for me. Each and every time, that fuzzy, green ball flies across the sky and then tries to hide from me. It dives into the leaves or under a bush. Sometimes it even goes over a fence or bounces off a big tree. Once it hit a car. Over and over it flies. Over and over I chase. 

Wonder upon wonder.

Jenn and Bob give me mysterious presents all the time. It’s one of my favorite things about them. There’s something about a present that’s magical, yet mysterious at the same time. There’s this wonderful mystery about what’s inside.

I take my present and shake it.
Toss it up. 
Squeeze it. 
Bite it. 
Carry it around the house. 

It’s all part of the wonder.  

And then, when I can’t stand not knowing what’s inside, I joyfully rip open my wonderful present. My joyfulness is so great that Jenn and Bob often confuse it with destruction. Joy is powerful that way. Wonder upon wonder. 

I see people doing a lot of goofy things this time of year that look more like "stress upon stress" or "cat upon cat." I want to teach you a new trick. Fill your holidays with wonder upon wonder instead. Start with just one, like a ball.  I’ve learned that, most of the time, every wonder quickly leads to another wonder. You may have to sit first and possibly even lay down, but wonders will come. Although bones may show up a week or two apart, some of the best wonders will appear from someone who loves you and has a ball chucker in their hand. 

If you will hunt for them, you will find them. Wonder upon wonder.
Merry Christmas from by the tree (instead of under the table),


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Let there be Light

Sunrise at Browns Bridge Church.
It begins before I'm actually coherent--an awareness of a new beginning, the slow dawn of comprehension.

Here we go again.

I lean hard into bliss, trying to retain my hold on the fleeting moment of innocence--when I was ignorant to the light. But placing my head under my pillow or turning my back to the window only delays, but does not deter, the inevitable.

I have to face what I would like to pretend doesn't exist.

I could hang blackout curtains but I don't.

In my first house, I had blinds, vinyl shades I'd pull down to deter the light's gentle, yet persistent advance against the night. But the light did what light always does--it invaded the darkness, streamed in around the edges, and made its presence known, undeniable.

Light can only be what it is, and all it represents is a choice. It or darkness.

Some feel our country has seen the light; others believe we are entering a time of unprecedented darkness. And it's Christmastime, supposedly a season to celebrate the coming of the Light. Instead, friends experience heartache and pain, and strangers in Aleppo, Mosul, brothels, and forgotten neighborhoods are trapped by darkness that seems to be looming large.

I open my Book to the words of Isaiah, seeking enlightenment, and I'm blinded by the declaration of the ancient prophet:

"The people living in darkness have seen a great light; 
on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned." 

He speaks as though it has already happened. The people were living in darkness. The perpetual shadow of death had cast its gloom over them. Then a great light dawned, and they saw it.

But the advent of this prophesied Light hadn't already occurred when Isaiah spoke about it. In fact, the people he referred to continued to live and die in darkness. God was silent for 400 years. 

Four hundred years.

Then, when the fullness of time had come, Zechariah, another holy man, echoed Isaiah's words about the Light Incarnate:

"...the Rising Sun 
will come to us from heaven 
to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, 
to guide our feet into the path of peace."

And the Rising Sun came, just a few months later. The Light Incarnate was Jesus and He burst forth into a dark, cold night. His life was the Light that showed mankind the way out of darkness and ushered in the reality of everlasting peace. He offered all a simple choice: Light instead of darkness. Life instead of death.


Once we've been awakened, once the Light has dawned, it's almost impossible to return to sleep. The light doesn't care if we're not ready to begin another time around the circle. It is immune to our frustration, our desire to believe it hasn't arrived.

Dawn breaks anyway, and we are forced to deal with it.