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I grew up in a house full of women. I was just a young girl, so I didn’t quite understand the complexities of the dynamics at the time but looking back on it through the haze of the years, I realize that my mother was a force to be reckoned with. She had grown up under both the torment and joy of four older brothers and somewhere along the way she determined that she would stand her ground and speak her mind.
Momma wanted to give birth to a son named Joe, but all four of us turned out to be girls, so she gave up on the fourth and called her Nancy Jo. We were spread out along 14 years and two husbands, and she loved to say she broke the mold with each of us. We looked nothing alike and our personalities had little in common. We loved each other, resented each other, argued with each other, and insisted on taking our vacations together. We sat up late into the night talking and drove each other crazy on road trips. Family. Females. Sisters.
There he was, running away with little in his arms, but a blessing on his head. His name was Jacob, and he had a bad reputation for being a liar and a thief; a deceiver without integrity, only seeking his own advantage. Willing to destroy any relationship to elevate himself. He could play the perfect dark and disturbed hero on a Netflix series.
My new friend sitting across from me in the coffee shop leans in to admit in a whisper, “I really don’t like Genesis. Those people were supposed to be the heroes – but look at Jacob – I just don’t get it.”
Are you a little overwhelmed with the horrors you are hearing about and reading about these days? I am. It seems every morning there is a new heartbreak, another voice of crazy shouting words of hatred and ugliness into our world. Anger marches down the street to destroy the innocent. Corrupt minds plot deception in their dark rooms. Words rip apart our relationships and diseases attack our fragile bodies. Each morning there is the newest daily dose of bad news.
"What is going on in this world of ours?" I think with dismay.
My sister had a recurring dream in the months before she passed away. She told me about it one day as I sat on the edge of her hospital bed. In her dream, she climbed a long staircase; at the top was a locked door. She tried the door, but it would not open.
I think I shared with her the verse from the Revelation to John; that we are the ones who open the door. Our conversation went no deeper at the time. This recurring dream of hers continued and expanded and there came a time when she opened that door.
I was ill-prepared when I set out on this little journey. The sun was high in the sky, the air crisp and warm with a slight breeze. At the end of the trail there are waterfalls, clearly marked with an orange star. But I will not make it there. My hiking boots are safe and sound on the other side of the continent in the dark of my closet, as I slip and slide in my black Adidas on the hard-packed snow and ice that carpets the trail.
I will make do with a large granite rock and the babble of the brook intermixed with the occasional car on the road that runs parallel.
Have you ever found yourself saying no to God? I have. And let me tell you right now; it is the wrong side of the argument to be on.
I have led an amazing Bible Study for the last 17 years and I started out on that path, at the very beginning with those words of ‘no’ in all their variations choo-choo-ing in my brain like a little toy train going around and around. “No, no. no.”
God was pretty gentle with me, and patient, putting the bible story about the 10 spies who said no to him outside of the Promised Land into my head, (if you don’t know the story – look it up – it is pretty terrifying!).
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I have been missing my sister Ann the last couple of weeks. Ann died suddenly four years ago and none of us had the chance for that last conversation about goodbye.
My mother always had a very practical view of death since she had seen it up close and personal when she lost her first husband in her 20’s. And as Christians, we view this life as the one that is temporary… and the next one is the good one to look forward to. If you aren’t familiar with that view, I will give you a few of Jesus’s words about it below. Rumor has it that Jesus defeated death and my family has always leaned hard into that truth.
A cup full and overflowing. Extravagant abundance. These are the words that fill my mind this early morning before the sun has risen. Turn out the porch light and pour a cup a coffee. The house is quiet for the first time in eleven days.
Counting. Numbers have bounced around in my brain all my waking hours these past days. How many nephews and their children can fit into which bedroom? How many to prepare a breakfast feast for? How many to reserve a table at the restaurant for? How many bowls to put out for soup?
The most important thing in our house is a little post-it note stuck to the inside of our front door. When people are coming over, that little post-it note is placed on the outside of the door so that anyone who approaches our home has no need to knock, but simply follow the directions handwritten there to “Come on in!” It is an open welcome, hopefully making all our guests feel like part of the family when they walk through the door.
This is a reminder I need right now; that this house my husband and I have built is not ours alone – it is a home that God has created through us – with the purpose of welcoming others. It is not our house; it is God’s home.
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