Tag Archives: compassion

Another Sword

I’m too far from town to walk to shopping now, but panhandlers occupying busy corners all over town remind me of a few summers back and

Sword from July 24, 2016

underpass 1

On part of my walk to the local strip mall I go beneath an on-ramp underpass rather than cross the busy highway above it. Somebody lives there – possibly a few people. I always look carefully, but never saw anyone. Still, each time I approach I pray; for safety, strength, wisdom but mostly for insight.

I step cautiously along that rocky, eerie path littered with bedding, clothes and rubbish; mostly empty alcoholic beverage bottles, cans and fast food refuse. I once crossed to the other side but it is dangerously narrow along the blind curve. So – no.

For most of my life I’ve carried a small Swiss Army knife, complete with handy tools – way before anyone heard of L.J. Gibbs or NCIS. I taught my sons to practice the same. Days after describing one of my mostly lovely walks to son Quinn, I found a package at my door – a note insisted I carry the content on my walks.

flipknife

My son didn’t send a tool – it’s a conspicuous, lightweight, gruesome-looking weapon, with a lever to quickly release the serrated blade. I grew up with overprotective brothers and I’ve been through police training. Even with my training I felt uncomfortable about the ominous looking thing – not about carrying it, but having to use it in self-defense.

A few days later as I approached the underpass I realized I typically palm my little knife inside my pocket as I approach. Feeling the new bulge on my belt I distinctly heard from somewhere deep inside,

“…Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.*.”

I kept walking, but thought about the scenario Jesus addressed in that passage. He reminded his apostles His Father was in control and the coming events would actually fulfill prophesies in the coming hours.

underpass 3My walks are hardly prophetic, but I understood the meaning. Shoulders squared, back straight, my empty hands casually at my sides, I began whistling, announcing my presence to whoever might have been hiding in the shadows. The smells were oppressive, the noise from traffic overhead deafening, so I was glad to return to the sunlight uneventfully.

Delighted to find some of my favorite produce and nuts on sale, I filled my canvas bag. But I kept thinking about the people sleeping on the rocks of the underpass.

By the time I finished shopping and set across the asphalt lot toward home heat already rose in waves.

Gazing up the path before me I ran the rules I’d learned over the years through my mind; maintain a safe distance, know where the shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries are in my area and never give strangers, panhandlers, money – “it ultimately prolongs their problems.”

But I also remember being homeless. Stuck by circumstances, I didn’t trade or abuse substances. Still, I doubt I’ll ever forget being sick with worry about my kids, the judgmental looks of people as I sought employment, the desperation, the longing for someone to give a care. More so, there was the reality that I too could be a paycheck away from homelessness again.

Feeling the weight of the bag on my back, perspiration beginning to form, I stopped beneath a shade tree in the middle of the parking lot. I put apples, carrots and some nuts into a separate produce bag and knotted it so it was airtight. Gazing ahead, once more I asked God to go before me and then started walking.

Approaching the underpass, I called out (in the most rugged voice I could muster), “I’m just passing through. I don’t want anything and mean no harm.” As I stepped around the dirty bedding I set the bag of fresh food on it without stopping.

Cars whizzed by yards away, oblivious to my presence as I stepped back into the sunlight.

Sleeping Butte

When I arrived home I was glad Ellie was there visiting with Erin. As I put the groceries away I described the scenario leading up to the first crossing beneath the underpass. Then I asked for feedback. Ellie thought for a while and then said, “This may sound cliche, but I would ask what Jesus would do.”

She confirmed what I felt. Peace returned and I went on about my work.

The state of our society continues to disturb me, but my primary purpose is to pray, pay attention and obey the Master.

I’m not entirely ludicrous. I asked God about a stun gun. No answer yet. So, I carry the knife. But once in a while I tie up a separate bag of fresh food, take the short-cut beneath the underpass. As I walk along the highway side I place the bag on the wall and announce, “I’m just walking here. I mean no harm…”

 

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25:40 (NLT)

 

*Matthew 26:52 (NKJV)

Advertisements

21 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Too Hard

The newest addition to the lots is a little S10 pickup truck. It arrived on a crazy-busy day so the movers left it (tow strap and all) at a perpendicular angle across the line of other project vehicles. This was not an issue for Cole, but the rude angle disturbed both Izzy and me. Daily. Seriously crazy making.

Over this weekend, Izzy and I decided to restore order to the universe starting with the S10. As Cole moved lengths of pasture fencing (truly, much higher up the priority ladder than the lots), Izzy circled the truck, eyeing the best destination with minimal effort. I unlocked the steering column, checked the hand brake and put the gearshift into neutral. Then she and I began pushing the little truck over the sandy soil.

Neither of us commented on the surprising exertion required from both of us to make the slightest advancement. Seriously, nudging the empty mini truck a few inches took our combined maximum effort.

Immediately I wondered when I became such a weenie. I prayed Izzy wouldn’t realize how daily my list of can’ts grows exponentially. As if.

YoungerMe pushed or helped push vehicles since I was tall enough to see over a steering wheel and I proficiently “popped a clutch” in grade school – a very long time ago. This week those days seemed like someone else’s life rather than mine.

But when we paused that morning Izzy also seemed irked. I assumed it was because we had to take a breather so soon into what we thought would be an easy task for the two of us. I mean, we’re tough. Right?

As we panted, I ever-so-slightly began to slip into an I’m-a-useless-old-woman puddle. Unwilling to accept that inevitability yet I walked through our task again from the top.

“For crying out loud!” I blurted out as we heard the familiar “pop” after I tested the hand brake release…

Ever gracious Izzy laughed aloud. Moments later, the task completed, we exchanged hi-fives and toasted the newly restored universal order.

Naturally I’m mulling over the experience today. Like in The Man and the Bolder story, God didn’t tell me to move the truck. He told me to help Cole and Izzy. My big ideas thumbed a ride.

But here’s the thing I almost missed – God saw that whole scenario before any of us were even born. He saw I would immediately condemn myself and that I would not consciously think to ask Him for help. Instead of brow-beating me or allowing me to, He led me to retrace my steps.

Sure I felt silly – again. So what else is new? I’m thankful God gave me a sense of humor that allows me to enjoy myself – literally. Bit by bit He’s teaching me to trust Him more in the most subtle and unimaginable ways.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

 

Angle chart courtesy Khan Academy, Free Google Images

8 Comments

Filed under A Door Ajar

Wake Up Call

be-still-know-godLate yesterday I wasn’t still. I’d been uneasy. With my lame arm I couldn’t pull my hatchet from a log. Cole didn’t get to the shop until early afternoon – he’d been working in town, so he and everyone else pushed hard to complete the day’s task list. I certainly wasn’t going to bother anyone with firewood.

By then my feet hurt, my back ached and my bad arm felt like it was on fire. Feeling my indisposition weighing on me, I resigned to wheel the log, hatchet firmly lodged in it back to the cottage and think the problem through.

Extraordinarily early this morning my phone rang. For years calls before daylight brought awful news. I bolted up, took a deep breath and answered, “What is it?”

Cole’s voice, “Wake up, Woman.”

Instantly relieved, I replied, “I’m awake Dude, I’m cold and slow…” I hadn’t heard it in a few years, but I’m pretty sure he was giggling before I heard him disconnect.

Minutes later with my latte and the smell of smoke from the stove I realized I was feeling cheerful, prospects abounded again. Even coughs in the pasture didn’t upset me (okay, that and checking with Kendra). Refreshed and fully awake by then I recalled Cole’s last text the evening before, “What are you worried about. Seriously.”

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again — my Savior and my God!*”

Later, in the morning light, with a cup of tea my concerns from the night before seemed silly. I began to remember scenarios from years long ago; the boy’s dad fussing into the phone after Pa woke him – at four a.m. I could hear The Old Man cackle delightedly just before hanging up. Hours later Ma also giggled describing how much Pa enjoyed waking all the brothers early that morning.

I may have mentioned before how my family tree is more like a tangled bramble bush. Love between us is wrapped in stained, stiff leather gloves. Those calls became a holiday tradition. I missed them after our marriage went south and the family distanced themselves from me for a season. Until this morning.

Today I’m glad I didn’t reply to Cole’s text the night before. Translated, it said, “Remember I have your back, Sister,” sub-text, “Being the only one here for days can feel lonely.” The call this morning confirmed what I already felt. Cole knowing I’m no slacker, my body is aging, but I’m far from lazy isn’t so important this morning. I must rest my arm and let it heal. He’ll get it eventually. Meanwhile God indeed knows.

Now I wonder; perhaps the way we’re all twisted together isn’t all that scary. No matter what, God’s got this.

It’s good to be home.

“But He knows where I am going. And when He tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” Job 23:10 (NLT)

*Psalm 43:5

7 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Sword

underpass 1

On part of my walk to the local strip mall I go beneath an on-ramp underpass rather than cross the busy highway above it. Somebody lives there – possibly a few people. I always look carefully, but never saw anyone. Still, each time I approach I pray; for safety, strength, wisdom but mostly for insight.

I step cautiously along that rocky, eerie path littered with bedding, clothes and rubbish; mostly empty alcoholic beverage bottles, cans and fast food refuse. I once crossed to the other side but it is dangerously narrow along the blind curve. So – no.

For most of my life I’ve carried a small Swiss Army knife, complete with handy tools – way before anyone heard of L.J. Gibbs or NCIS. I taught my sons to practice the same – and to keep a handkerchief (especially at weddings and funerals) in case a lady needs one. Days after describing my mostly lovely walks to son Quinn, I was giddy to find a package at my door with a note insisting I carry the content on my walks.

flipknife

My son didn’t send a tool – it’s a conspicuous, lightweight, gruesome-looking weapon, with a lever to quickly release the serrated blade. I grew up with overprotective brothers and I’ve been through police training. Even knowing first-hand the desperation of some street people, I felt uncomfortable about the ominous looking thing – not about carrying it, but having to pull it in self-defense.

A few days later as I approached the underpass I again asked God for help. I typically palm my little knife as I approach. As I reached for the new bulge on my belt I clearly heard from somewhere deep inside,

“…Those who use the sword will die by the sword.*.”

Slightly confused, I kept walking, but thought about the scenario Jesus addressed in that passage. He reminded his apostles His Father was in control and the coming events would actually fulfill prophesies in the coming hours.

underpass 3My walks are hardly prophetic, but I understood the meaning. Shoulders squared, back straight, my empty hands casually at my sides, I began whistling, announcing my presence to whoever might have been hiding in the shadows. The smells were oppressive, the noise from traffic overhead deafening, so I was glad to return to the sunlight uneventfully.

Delighted to find some of my favorite produce and nuts on sale, I filled my canvas bag. But I kept thinking about the people sleeping on the rocks of the underpass.

By the time I finished shopping and set across the asphalt lot toward home heat already rose in waves.

Gazing up the path before me I ran the rules I’d learned over the years through my mind; maintain a safe distance, know where the shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries are in my area and never give strangers, panhandlers, money – “it ultimately prolongs their problems.”

But I also remember being homeless. Stuck by circumstances, I didn’t trade or abuse substances. Still, I doubt I’ll ever forget being sick with worry about my kids, the judgmental looks of people as I sought employment, the desperation, the longing for someone to give a care, or that I still could be one paycheck away from homelessness again.

Feeling the weight of the bag on my back, perspiration beginning to form, I stopped beneath a shade tree in the middle of the parking lot. I put apples, carrots and some nuts into a separate produce bag and knotted it so it was airtight. Gazing ahead, once more I asked God to go before me and then started walking.

Approaching the underpass, I called out (in the most rugged voice I could muster), “I’m just passing through. I don’t want anything and mean no harm.” As I stepped around the dirty bedding I set the bag of fresh food on it without stopping.

Cars whizzed by yards away, oblivious to my presence as I stepped back into the sunlight.

Sleeping Butte

When I arrived home I was glad Ellie was there visiting with Erin. As I put the groceries away I described the scenario leading up to the first crossing beneath the underpass. Then I asked for feedback. Ellie thought for a while and then said, “This may sound cliche, but I would ask what Jesus would do.”

She confirmed what I felt. Peace returned and I went on about my work.

The state of our society continues to disturb me, but my primary purpose is to pray, pay attention and obey the Master.

I’m not entirely ludicrous. I asked God about a stun gun. No answer yet. So, I carry the knife. But once in a while I tie up a separate bag of fresh food, take the short-cut beneath the underpass. As I walk along the highway side I place the bag on the wall and announce, “I’m just walking here. I mean no harm…”

 

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25:40 (NLT)

 

*Matthew 26:52 (NLT)

23 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Pray

“…Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside…” Lin-Manuel Miranda

I want to imagine a world free of haters and ignorance. Today it’s very hard. But it will happen.

Neither Erin nor I heard the terrifying news, but we felt something horrible had happened. We continued to feel the oppression as we drove through the amazing Colorado Monument – even that majesty couldn’t shake our uneasiness.

This morning we felt it even deeper, even before hearing the news. Now we understand why. Humankind suffers horrifically again. Neither my feeble words nor my faith will undo the damage done. And yet I live in the hope all our cries to God help someone, somewhere somehow.

There’s no way to express my compassion for the families and friends of those lost and those suffering from this Sunday in Orlando, Florida. But I try.

Regardless how feeble we may feel in the aftermath today, love overcomes evil.

With deepest, heartfelt sympathies to all those who feel each loss, for the communities, friends and families and all of those suffering now.

Roo

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” Ephesians 3:15, 16 (NLT)

Image courtesy #PrayForOrlando, The Church at Oak Level@TCAOL

 

5 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex, Uncategorized

Offbeat

Typically I hit the floor running, thanking God for my life. Today, however I couldn’t form a thought, moreover a word. It was the first sign of a bad day.

Every little task was defiantly complicated:

  • Rising; I was tangled in my bedding.
  • Standing; way more effort than usual.
  • Walking; um, staggering.

It got worse:

  • No espresso grind.
  • No evaporated cane juice.
  • Brown sugar was a hard lump.
  • No paper towels to softening the sugar.

Without another thought or the slightest resistance I returned to bed.

red restart-256Restart.

 

 

 

 

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” Psalm 103: 13, 14 (NLT)

 

Image Courtesy Iconsplace.com

6 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex