And Coming...

"She-Bear in the Beautiful Garden" is an allegory for children of all ages, written and illustrated by Ellen Gillette. Order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24, 2011 The Blogger Takes a Holiday

I’ve been writing these essays for awhile now, religiously submitting them every two weeks, but I missed my deadline completely on January 17. I suppose I could blame it on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, but for the first time in several years, I was not out early to enjoy a Unity prayer breakfast.

My husband, whose work only shuts down for Thanksgiving and Christmas, had worked over the weekend and had Monday off too. Instead of fostering better racial relations in the community or attending a parade in the surrounding area, we cleaned out our garage.

It took all morning. “Are you ever going to use this again?” “How much is this worth?” “What is this?” Once motivated to de-clutter, David’s enthusiasm borders on obsession. No, it is an obsession. Which is why I insinuated myself into the process. Otherwise, the cradle my father made for our first child (the one with the broken piece we haven’t seen in years) would have very possibly ended up on the discard pile. (“But we don’t need this!”)

The afternoon was spent, on a computer just slighter younger than I am and with less-than-lightning-speed Internet service, posting items to sell on and monitoring e-mail from potential (and gratifyingly numerous) buyers.

Later in the week, when a black gentleman navigated the adventurous road leading to our house in order to pick up one of the freebies (a punching bag formerly used for anger management) I thought about the Big Picture as it related to Monday’s national holiday.

Our home, far off the main road, is in a predominately black section of the county. At least for several square miles, we represent the minority. We’ve never had a problem, never felt unwelcome, never been threatened or ostracized. How different might our experience have been had we lived prior to Dr. King and the civil rights movement and had we been a black family moving into a predominately white area?

Sometimes, because prejudice, fear, hate, and anger can still be passed on to children regardless of changes in law and public policy, we forget how far our country as come. And because the United States is a relatively young nation, we lack the historical perspective older world powers possess.

To China, India, Europe, 148 years is a drop in the proverbial bucket. That’s how long it has been, though, since Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in America. The Civil Rights movement came a hundred years later – I’m older than it is.

And yet, in this relatively short period of history, so much of the nation’s ugliness has been eliminated. Jim Crow laws that seem now so ridiculous, so small-minded and stupid, are extinct. Dr. King didn’t do it himself, of course. He was joined by others, blacks and whites who were raised up at a crucial time for a crucial purpose, but his was the voice that unified their concerns and translated them for the rest of the world.

God has always seemed to prefer raising up one individual to prove himself strong on the behalf of many. Esther was a foreign queen who risked her life to save the Jews. Paul was transformed from a hunter of Christians to a teacher of Christians. C.T. Studd left his homeland and wealth to spread the gospel. Billy Graham saw his vision for taking a simple message to the world fulfilled.

God chooses, the word says, “the low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29). He chooses those who are, by others’ standards, weak and foolish, young and inexperienced. Low and despised.

Young and foolish? Sounds like a lot of folks I know. Weak? Sounds like me. Made available to God’s will and empowered by the Holy Spirit, however, he can do wonders through anyone.

Permission to reprint with acknowledgement of source.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3, 2011 Seasons

TO EVERYTHING there is a season,
and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to break down and a time to build up,
A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away,
A time to rend and a time to sew,
a time to keep silence and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
What profit remains for the worker from his toil?
I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men
with which to exercise and busy themselves.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds
[a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy],
yet so that men cannot find out what God has done
from the beginning to the end.
I know that there is nothing better for them than to be glad
and to get and do good as long as they live;
and also that every man should eat and drink
and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, Amplified Bible).

The beginning of the year seems a good time to look at the Teacher’s immortal words above. For thousands of years these verses have been set down on plaques, woven into tapestries, stitches onto samplers, recorded as pop music, quoted in and out of context…seldom lived by.

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to want to have things change NOW, not wait for the proper season. I planted those seeds yesterday! Why is there no fruit?

I’m good with the whole “there is a time to be born” thing, the laughing, the embracing. I can sew, stack stones, keep, speak. I can enjoy dancing without being “a dancer.” I want to live, encourage, and nurture a peaceful environment. I don’t love well enough, but I easily buy into the need to work on that area. But a time to die? To pluck up what has been carefully cultivated? I don’t want to lose or mourn or weep or hate or kill…and yet there is an appropriate time, biblically, for all of those things to occur.

There is a season for everything.

There is a time for every matter.

We usually read the words so quickly, but “every” is an awesome idea. It means ALL. EACH. If we have settled in our minds and hearts that God exists, then we must also believe that everything is under control.

Did you lose a job? Get evicted? God is still on the throne.

Is your marriage in trouble? Your children making poor choices? God is still on the throne.

Are you struggling with a decision? Wishing life was different? God is still on the throne.

I’m right there with you. At this moment, I am keenly aware of many things in my own life and in the lives of those I love that I cannot “fix” even if my desire is to do just that. Looking at them from every possible angle until I have a crook in my neck, there are no words I can say to make them all better. There is nothing I can do to straighten the tangles out—broken relationships impossible for me to restore. Physical and financial difficulties completely beyond my abilities and means.

And yet, if I believe the words of Ecclesiastes, I must accept the fact that in God’s plan, there is a time for that sick loved one to die. The estranged couple I pray for may need to “refrain from embracing.” That family in need make be going through a God-ordained “time to break” for reasons I could never imagine. A dream may need to die. Even hate and war and killing have their place in the universe.

For what it’s worth, I don’t get it most of the time. I fume and worry and overthink things until the crook in my neck turns me into a pain. But God makes “all things beautiful” in his own time. Happiness isn’t the only thing, but apparently the creator of the universe ranks it fairly high, where his children are concerned. “Be happy and enjoy (your)selves as long as (you) live,” he is telling us.

Through his word, it is as if God says, “Eat, drink, take pleasure in the things and people and emotions and senses I’ve given you. Just realize that in my plan, there are cycles of growth and decay, life and death, building up and tearing down. Things will happen that do not promote ‘happiness’ today…but you can trust me with tomorrow. I will still be on the throne.”

Permission to reprint with acknowledgement of source