Author Archives: gatheringbreadcrumbs

The Vulnerability of Life

We were walking along the Mexican beach late one night, some friends and I. We were on a mission. We scanned the water and the sand in the dark, ever-hopeful, waiting. Then one of my friends was pointing at the waves. We stopped, started, got closer. It was a giant sea turtle, careening in the shallows, making it’s way to the sandy beach. It was the season for turtles to come out of the ocean to lay their eggs. We felt like we’d just won a million dollars.

Our joy was short-lived. Being a wise and attentive turtle, it caught sight of us and, using it’s legs as nimble rudders, veered back into the ocean. While our excitement was somewhat squelched the wonder remained. We had just seen something beautiful for the very first time.

We saw a few more turtles that night,  but one in particular was striking to me. When we discovered it, it was a long ways up the sand, looking for a good place to dig. We kept our distance, hoping to not disturb the life-giving process. Something tipped it off however, and it left it’s sand-searching to head back to the safety of the sea and to look out for a new and more private spot. It was obvious that sea-turtles were not well-suited to land. It would flap it’s front legs forward, and then drag its heavy body and shell a few inches further down the sand. Flap, pull, flap, pull. We continued to watch this pain-staking process for at least five minutes. The turtle probably felt it’s vulnerability; it knew it wasn’t alone. But it was resolute. Finally, it reached the edge of the surf and with a final heave, slipped below the waves. The Mexican turtle guardian who stood watch with us told us this might happen multiple times—the long journey out of the water, the discovery of an unsuitable spot, and the long journey back. It’s common for turtles to have to try several spots before they find one where all the elements are good.

What an awkward, vulnerable, long drawn-out process! What determination and patience this turtle must have to successfully lay it’s eggs! And seeing this turtle with the eyes of my heart, I wondered what God might be saying to me about the process of giving life in a spiritual sense. In my current ministry vocation I was definitely feeling out of my element, sometimes wondering if I was where I was meant to be. How many times had I felt awkward? How often did I feel vulnerable? How many days had I gotten impatient, and wanted to back out on this purposeful pursuit? Listening to the message of these silent speakers, I realized what a high cost there can be for the opportunity to give life. Here in the natural world, God painted a picture of what one might expect who is designed to give life—it might mean becoming a fish (sea turtle) out of water. And the possibility of giving up your own life in the process.

Living in a culture where comfort is king, and safety is a close second, is it any wonder we sometimes struggle to find life, or to live in life-giving ways? There was nothing comfortable or safe about what I experienced in that turtle’s pursuit of life. But it was beautiful. And unlike the sea-turtle, we have the freedom to choose whether it’s worth it.

So I am left with a decision. Do I embrace the pain and vulnerability that leads to life? Or do I stay hidden in the safety and comfort of my own sea? God, give me the courage and determination to be like a sea-turtle.

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Surprise Transformations

An experiment in Easter home-art becomes an object lesson for my life.

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Because of my captivation with the art and craft of home-making and creating beauty in life, I have loved spending time in southern Germany, where life just seems different than it does in America. On my first visit to the area, I fell in love with women carrying baskets to pick up fresh bread at the bakery, vegetables from the veggie-stand and fruits from the fruit vendor. Another time I stayed with creative friends the week before Easter, and was especially impressed by some home-made magic in the kitchen. Using nylons to attach the leaves to eggs and onion skins for a natural dye, the lady I was staying with made the most beautiful Easter eggs I had seen. My immediate thought was, one day I would like to be like that woman. In all the particulars, at this point my life really looks nothing like hers, but this year home-dying my own Easter eggs with natural dyes was within my reach, and I decided to go for it.

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The process started with creating my own food-based dyes. I chose turmeric for a bright yellow, onion skins for a deep rust (like the ones in Germany), and red cabbage for – get this – turquoise. After boiling water with some vinegar and my chosen ingredients for about 30 minutes, we set the pans outside to cool. Meanwhile we decorated boiled eggs with sprigs of cilantro, ivy, and grains of rice, held fast with clean nylon wrappings.

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Once in the dye, the waiting began. You need to leave them in the dye for at least 20-30 minutes, depending on the color you want. Never having done this, I had no idea how long to wait. After 45 minutes, still not being satisfied with my hues, I put my pots back over heat – not a great idea, as boiled eggs don’t appreciate being reboiled/heated. Word to the wise – impatience and perfectionism doesn’t pay in the kitchen.

My biggest concern was with the “turqoise” cabbage eggs. They didn’t seem to be changing color at all. No matter how long I waited, they appeared a very pale pink. After attempting the reboil to no effect, I gave up and took them out of the dye. And an amazing transformation took place within seconds of leaving that cabbage-y environment. One moment they were a pasty pink, and the next changing before my eyes to the promised blue.

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To say I was excited would be an understatement. There’s something about a surprise transformation that defies descriptive adjectives.

Looking at those barely pink eggs, my thoughts went something like this: “I think that website made a mistake. They didn’t know what they were talking about. Maybe I didn’t use enough cabbage. Maybe I didn’t use enough vinegar. Oh well, it is what it is.”

I think I might be a pale pink egg.

Here I am, sitting in hot water, waiting for something to happen that isn’t happening. And I’m impatient. I’ve heard all kinds of promises of who God is, of who I am in Christ, of who I’m meant to be and what I’m capable of. And I don’t really see it. Have I been lied to? Was I given wrong information? I don’t want to believe that, so I blame myself and turn up the heat. I think I need to try harder, or do more.

Is it possible that everything is exactly as God said? Is it possible that transformation could take me by surprise? That to myself I look like a pale pink egg, but everything is already in place for me to be exactly who I’m meant to be? Is it time to step out by faith and give it a go?

What transformation is God working in you? Do you believe that His promises are true? Or are you holding back until you see it with your own eyes?DSC05742

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed….But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:18-19,25

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A final transformation: Not only did I have my promised blue eggs, but the cabbage became a tasty bean and veggie soup. The rejected cabbage dye becomes something life-giving? I think there’s another life lesson in there too…

My information source for natural dyed eggs: Click here.


Reflecting on my Farm-Call Dad

As a little girl one of my joys was going on farm calls with my veterinarian father. I would ride around in the passenger seat of the vet truck, rumbling along country roads and asking Dad questions. Once at the farm, Dad would put on his rubber farm boots, and I’d don a matching mini black rubber pair. We’d greet the farmer, get supplies out of the truck and then I’d traipse two steps behind him into the barn. I was proud of my ability to watch him perform surgeries without flinching, proud to be able to be his assistant. A farmer once asked me if I would be a vet when I grew up. Although my instant response was, “No, and I’m not gonna marry one either,” the truth was that I was proud of my dad, and proud to be part of what he was doing. It was important, and I felt important being by his side.

Twenty or so years later, on what would have been my dad’s 59th birthday, I caught myself reflecting on the pride and security I received from my dad as a child. The memories are the only thing I still have. But this day I realized I had also been given a powerful picture of what relationship with my heavenly dad can do.

I often feel like a child, no special skills or plans. But my dad continues to invite me to climb up into his vehicle and go for an adventure. Every day I have the opportunity to put on my work boots and mirror what I see my father doing. I am the assistant in something that is way beyond my education, ability and comprehension. None of that is important. What matters is that I am with my dad, and he wants me with him.

It’s an amazing thing – the power of identity and security a child receives from a good dad. Sometimes I forget who I am, and I forget who my Dad is. I forget that He wants me with Him. I feel very unimportant and forget where my value comes from. I’m thankful for days of remembering. I’m thankful for dads who share their important tasks with unskilled kids. I’m thankful for my farm-call dad, and thankful that I will never need to spend a day without that value and security.


Leah’s Lullaby

“When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” (Genesis 29:31-32)

Have you noticed God’s attentions to the unloved? Have you meditated on God’s concern for the forgotten and unwanted? Have you soaked in his concern for you?

Leah, the unwanted first wife; the unloved older sister.

Leah, the one God still had plans for.

Leah, mother of Judah.

Leah, the unloved woman whose descendant was Jesus.

Are you among the many who feel unloved and unwanted? Do you give in to the depression that says there is nothing special about you, no good in your future? Take courage from Leah. True, her husband didn’t love her, but God saw her misery and gave her the gift of love in another way. God saw her sorrow and gave her a future. God chose the unwanted woman to bring forth His redemption plan. Unloved, Unwanted One, can you even imagine what God might do for you?

 

Leah’s Lullaby

Unloved, not pursued.

Leah fades in an open wound.

Fate sighs, “No plans for you.”

Leah, don’t give up on life.

 

Let hope rise – though your soul cries,

Forgotten, never alone.

Your love will come – from an Unseen One

Whose dreams can fill your desires.

 

Here’s love – child you can see

The LORD has heard of your misery.

Fate lies, “No plans for you.”

Leah, your arms hold your life.

 

Let hope rise – though your soul cries,

Forgotten, never alone.

Your love will come – from an Unseen One

Whose dreams will fill your desires.

 

Unloved, Not pursued

The children of Leah cry out to you.

“Our mother felt empty too.

Please don’t give up on your life.”

 

Let hope rise – though your soul cries,

Forgotten, never alone.

Your love will come – from an Unseen One

Whose dreams will fill your desires.

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Not My Choice of Cleaner

I just moved in to my first bona fide apartment, and after years of living on the move and out of a suitcase, it’s a little exciting. Cooking, cleaning, decorating – bring it on!

Today, I decided, was the day to clean the bathroom. When I took stock of what cleaning supplies I had on hand, I came to discover that it was pretty much all super-cleaner, meaning, “test this first, it might destroy your apartment” cleaner. Now one of the not-so-exciting parts of this particular apartment is that the bathroom appliances are blue – baby blue. And since I didn’t notice the “test this first” warnings until after the cleaning was underway, I had a good, “am I destroying the baby blue enamel of my apartment” scare. I say scare, because I think things came out ok. But I likely will not be using said cleaners on my baby blues again.

All of this, of course, got me thinking about cleaners, and how they typically come with watch-outs and warnings. Generally, the most powerful agents to get at grime have the potential to destroy other things as well. My solution to the problem is to find something “safe.” The jury is out on whether “safe” will actually do the job and deal with the dirty.

Contemplating abrasive cleaners makes me contemplate the more abrasive events in life. I wonder how often the purpose is the same. It’s not “safe,” and not my choice of cleaner. It may be potentially damaging. But maybe certain messes call for certain dangerous measures. Perhaps God is more concerned about the cleanliness of the toilet than the potential for baby blue enamel to get discolored. If that is the case, and God’s cleaning may not be pretty, will I still say with the Psalmist, “cleanse me…and I will be clean” or will I go with my own mild version of cleaning and call it good enough? How much do I want to be clean?


Considering Grace

Whilst traversing the globe I came across that well-known book “What’s So Amazing About Grace” by Philip Yancey. And I’ve been thinking about grace ever since. Grace means gift, and as I look at my life I see so much evidence of gift. Seeing gift, seeing grace, is giving me this crazy sense of awareness of God’s presence in my life. It’s like this peace-releasing security that defines my existence despite the waves of chaos, stress and change that I’ve been riding.

Gift takes many forms. Upon arriving home after 6 months of full-throttle globe trotting and missions, I realized that I was surrounded by answers to prayer. Many changes have occurred in my family. Many prayers I have prayed for them over the last months and even years have suddenly borne fruit. Recognizing this, I am overwhelmed  by gift, grace, God.

My baby sister got married last weekend. I remember the day she was born, and my childish joy at having a new member of the family. Now I am sister to another, and I see God’s gift to her life. Grace.

In the midst of wedding craziness my car broke down. Really. The front tire broke off of the steering rods. As I watched my car being towed away, the second car in our family to die that weekend, I had to laugh over the irony of our situation. When I got the service call and heard how much repairs would cost, it wasn’t funny anymore. But as I prayed about what to do, and where the money would come from, I realized it was already taken care of. Just the week before someone had arranged to give me a certain amount of money each month in repayment for work I had done years ago. The total amount pretty much covered my car repair. And I realized God had anticipated my need. Grace.

I like to live my life in intentional pathways, each thing I do pointed towards a specific goal, a determined direction. I like to know what I’m doing and why. I’m in a season of transition, lack of place and uncertainty about where to invest. And yet God’s grace to me is giving me a sense of security. I don’t know where I will be living 6 weeks from now or what I will be doing. But I know God’s hand on my life. And right now that is enough.

I’ve long loved the story of Hagar in the desert, at the end of her rope, sure she was going to die. She came to know God’s presence and provision, she knew Him as “the God Who Sees Me.” I am thankful for the God Who Sees Me today.

Desert Wanderer


Weak-Sauce Coffee and What God Said

God guides us in mysterious ways; the Bible even records God getting a message across through a talking donkey. God speaks to me a lot, strangely enough, through coffee.

I love coffee. I’m not sure why. But yeah, I really like it, and I like it strong. Black, cream, sugar, latte, mocha, it’s all good, as long as the coffee has a good kick to it. Moving to Australia in the last month, figuring out where to get coffee has been an important point in my cultural assimilation. Lucky for me, I hit the jack-pot with a good coffee brand straight away, and morning coffee made in a french press has been something to look forward to.

The last three days, however, something unfortunate has happened. My coffee has been about the color of weak tea, pretty much weak-sauce brown water. When it happens once, you say “Oh bother.” When it happens twice, you say, “Man, not again.” When it happens three times you know there’s something seriously wrong with the world. And I know what’s wrong, because my coffee told me.

I’ve been pushing the limits, trying to stretch out my coffee grinds, seeing if I can get by with using less. And pretty much I’ve discovered that it doesn’t work that way. If you want good coffee, you don’t skimp on grinds. Duh. I knew that, but, yeah, I guess I have to learn the hard way. And where does God fit in? Well, on day one I looked at that sad imitation coffee, knew the mistake I had made, and also knew instantly in my spirit that I’d been doing the same thing in my walk with God. I’ve been thinking I could scrimp, have a few moments here, a quick prayer there, sleep a little longer in the morning, etc. But God made it clear to me in my coffee cup that if I do that, my “taste” of Him will be pretty weak. He wants to be so much stronger in my life than He is at this moment. But I need to stop being stingy and increase the amount of time I put in. It’s hard because it means changing habits and shifting priorities. But I have a feeling that once I have a taste of that “strong coffee” in my life I will never be satisfied with weak-sauce quiet time again. I also have a hunch that I will be unable to brew myself a decent cup of coffee until I actually listen and respond to what God’s telling me. He definitely knows how to get my attention. I think I’ve had enough imitation coffee for one season. It’s time to go all in.