Metaphor Monday: Oil

MM

It has been 7 years since our last trip to Alabama, and a long paper chain in shades of the sea winds its way around our dining room, strips torn off daily in anticipation of the trip planned for this summer. The soft white sands of the Gulf Shore beckoned. It was finally going to happen.

And then, tragedy. Eleven men killed, their families bereft, and a hole in the ocean floor gushing oil into the salty water like a ruptured appendix, throwing the whole system into shock.

Soon the white sands will be covered in balls of oil. The slick, spreading mass will invade the estuaries and wreak havoc. Nesting turtles and birds will die along with countless sea life, fishermen’s livelihoods will falter, and no one is sure just when we can expect resolution.

How can something be so harmless when it dwells beneath the surface, so much a part of the elemental earth, and yet so toxic when extracted from its home within the layers? Like bile within our bodies, it serves our purposes but we don’t want it leaking where it doesn’t belong.

Human bodies have recovered from ruptured appendices, with enough help and time and intervention. I hope the same is true for my beloved, poisoned Gulf.

Metaphor Monday: The Adoption Edition

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For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as children by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

It’s a special Metaphor Monday here at One Thing. Today adoption is on my heart, specifically the impending adoption of two sweet girls from the Ukraine by my friends Kate and Charley.

What could be more exciting than the fact that two little girls are getting a whole new future? What could be more amazing than that a family a whole world away could open their hearts to two children whose lives were considered as good as dead upon birth? What staggers the imagination more than the thought that these girls will be welcomed as family members, encouraged to rise above their “limitations”, nurtured to health, and loved beyond all human reason?

Their own country doesn’t consider them special, but a burden. Their parents did not have the means to help them. They were facing institutionalization, which means something quite a bit more disturbing in most countries than we in America could fathom.

I firmly believe that adoption is near and dear to God’s heart. He is the Author of new beginnings, the Changer of destinies, and the Seeker of the lost. He delights in taking what the world calls useless…burdensome…abandoned and changing its name to beloved…favored…and Mine.

Kate and Charley have committed to their new daughters, Bethany Danielle and Laura Christine. The paperwork is underway. Travel plans are being made. You can visit their adoption blog and read about their progress towards the anticipated homecoming.

The organization that led Kate and Charley to their girls is Reece’s Rainbow. This is not an adoption agency, but a nonprofit organization that finds Down Syndrome orphans and spotlights their cases all on one website. They have, in the last two years, found adoptive families for over 200 children from 32 countries.

Here is the page that makes me cry. So many precious faces. So many whose futures are hopeless unless someone intervenes. I want to gather them all up, every single one. Obviously I can’t. But I can do something.

On the blog there is a quote that blows me away every time I read it. It convicts me to rise up out of my apathetic daze and motivates me to act. It’s proverbs 24:12:

Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts & keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us accountable to act.

Not everyone is called to adopt (although it is my personal opinion that more would be called if they only had the courage to ask the Lord honestly, lol). But we are all called to help the case of the widow and orphan (James 1:27), in whatever way we can. This week I hope to present a couple of ways that just about anyone can participate in.

(For instance, if you love coffee, or know someone who does, how about buying a bag here, where $5 of every purchase will go towards Kate and Charley’s adoption expenses?)

Bethany and Laura may never completely understand what Kate and Charley have saved them from, what it cost, nor just how drastically their futures were altered all because of courage, and faith, and LOVE.

In the same way, we as Christians cannot fully comprehend just what we have been saved from or for until the day we meet our Abba God face to face and we enter into the future forever with Him. Nor can we fathom the price He paid to lift us from our hopeless state.

For now, we have a chance to work hand in hand with Him in setting the lonely in families (ps. 68:6), and help bring Bethany and Laura home. I am honored and humbled to be a part of that process.

Metaphor Monday: Loving the Dragon

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Everybody’s met him. He’s irresistable. Beautiful. Tantalizing. Riveting. Compelling. Mysterious. Desireable. You want more of him. You think you need him. You put your arms around him.

And then he eats you.

Years ago I read Frank Peretti’s The Oath, a book in which sin is portrayed as a dragon, and the image stuck. The way Peretti described the hero’s feeling towards the beast was inspired. From a distance, the dragon was easily seen as a sinister monster that must be killed in order to be free of it. It was obvious that it was up to no good.

Yet, as the stalwart hero approached to drive the spear in, the perception changed. The closer he got, the more beautiful the dragon appeared. The hero’s heart grew tender towards it, wavering in his determination to be done with it. Closer still, and he began to really like it, even love it, to the point of feeling a fierce protectiveness towards it, absolutely certain that it would not do him harm after all.

It comes back to me over and over again…do I hate my sin? Do I really want to be done with it? Do I really believe that it will destroy me? Or do I think I can play with it, coddle it…tame it, clean it up, make it okay?

Is there sin lurking in the corners of your heart? Are you defending it because you have been defined by it for so long that you are afraid you won’t recognize yourself without it? Maybe you think it makes you an interesting, well-rounded person. It makes you feel alive when you feed it.

The trouble is, it’s never satisfied. The cute little lizard you brought home is growing. It cries out to be fed, and when you do, it grows healthy and strong. It tells you all kinds of lies that make you feel beautiful, powerful, exciting…fill in the blank. You think you control it, but all the while its claws are piercing your soul, until you believe that if you pull it out you will suffer a fatal hemorrhage.

It’s killing you. Sure as you are reading these words, it will be the death of you. Stop coddling it. Confess it, and let Jesus remove the talons and staunch the flow. He is the original Dragonslayer, no matter how big and ugly the serpent is.

Got a metaphor for me? Leave me a comment, or a link!

Metaphor Monday

MM

Chocolate. In its purest form, it’s nothing but a harsh, bitter bean. Once, when I was a child, I licked my finger and dipped it into the cocoa my mother was using to bake with, thinking it was chocolate powder.

It was an experience I would never repeat.

But you add a little sugar to it, and everything changes. You have something wonderful. Tongue-tingling. Addictive, even.

It’s a process, like everything else. It takes work. It takes time. It requires harvesting and fermenting and crushing and melting and transforming.

Bitter to sweet. Harsh to smooth. Energy, effort, struggle, triumph. The cacao bean ain’t gonna transform itself, after all. It needs some help to get there. It needs somebody who wants the finished product badly enough to follow all the steps through to the end.

I’m glad the Mayans discovered how to turn the humble cacao bean into something delectible. I’m glad they didn’t sneer at the weird pods that hung all about them and dismiss them as completely useless.

I’m glad I have a Creator who knows I can be more than meets the eye, too. He knows exactly what I need in order to become what I was meant to be.

*pause to reflect upon the monumental truth I’ve just laid out, as violins play a soft and gentle melody*

*massive belch*

*snicker*

I’m also glad to know that too much sweet is just plain sickening.

On that note, let’s give away some chocolate, shall we?

The great and powerful Random.org speaks, and spews out a number…and that number issssss….

TWENTY-ONE

Melanie!! Who said:

Capture

Mel, your wish is my command. I’m so happy you won! I’ll get your chocolates to you just as soon as I get your info!

And thank you to EVERYBODY who entered my contest. The chocolates can be purchased here if you still want to try them on for size; I promise they are worth it!

ps. if you have a metaphor for me, just leave it, or a link to your post, in my comments!

Entering the Gates

I suppose everyone has their own idea of when adulthood is reached. For some it is as simple as passing a particular year, like sixteen (driving), eighteen (enlistment), or twenty-one (alchohol).

 
For myself, it was not an age but a checklist of mental milestones begun in 5th grade that I perceived would sweep me beyond the simple meandering trail of childhood and through the Great Golden Gates of Maturity. I was certain that the realm of Adulthood was staggeringly superior to the world of submission, school, and simplicity that formed the days of my youth.

 
The Checklist began simply enough:

  • Begin Menstruation
  • Wear a bra
  • Shave legs
  • Get boyfriend

These items were triumphantly checked off in due time, and I congratulated myself on navigating the trail with relative ease. The gates glimmered on the horizon. I would have stepped through in record time, but for one problem: I kept revising and lengthening the list. Items I had not considered in 5th grade became essential additions. Soon it read:

  • Graduate High School
  • Go to College
  • Get Job

Suddenly things became complicated. I graduated and went to college. I got a job (I was the Godfather’s Pizza salad-bar-nazi. Important work, that.) But somewhere in my junior year of high school, A Young Man had appeared. A Young Man who turned my simple list on its head with one crooked smile. He was a mess; a college drop out, unsure about what he wanted and who he was. He had no prospects, but me-oh-my, could he swagger.

 
When The Young Man appeared, all reason took flight, and my list took on a curiously new and urgent direction:

  • Kiss Frequently, and Well
  • Get Engaged
  • Get Married

The sooner the better, preferably. I wanted to be his wife. I wanted to wake up every morning to those soft green eyes, to cook his meals and fold his undies. It became the embodiment of adulthood, this setting up house with the object of my every hormonally-charged dream.

 
The Young Man gave me an engagement ring halfway through my senior year in high school. He proposed under the Christmas tree in suitably romantic style. Our parents called it a “promise ring” in the vain hope that the magic would wear thin and we’d come to our senses.

 
Vain, indeed.

 
By the end of the next year, I had his name. I was eighteen, and he was twenty-one. We lived in a tiny apartment with a waterbed and a small black cat named Buster Ninja Crabb. He went to school and I cooked grilled cheese sandwiches and cookies, reveling in the “Mrs.” on every envelope and medical form. The sparkly ring danced on my finger with its plainer gold partner and reminded me with every load of laundry that I was a Real Lady now. The gates were securely shut behind me.

 
Or were they?

 
Sometimes I felt that I was only playing house, a little girl in grown-up clothes with a grown-up name. No one expected us to make it; fully half the people at our wedding were probably unconvinced we’d last a year. My own parents didn’t make the trip from Norway to Texas for the ceremony, so determined they were to convey their lack of approval and preponderance of doubts.

 
I wanted desperately to be taken seriously. And so I added another item to the list, the One Thing I was sure would seal the maturity deal:

  • Have Baby

 

But when I brought my firstborn home from the hospital, I didn’t feel like a grownup. If anything, I felt less adult than I ever had in my life. None of my play-acting and daydreaming had prepared me for the responsibility of a new life. Even over the next few weeks, it stubbornly refused to sink in. I would find myself wondering if I should call this child’s parents to come and pick her up, because I was fed up with babysitting.

 
Instead, adulthood was calling me. In the middle of the night when she would wake and need me…adulthood was calling. Struggling with breastfeeding, and changing poopy diapers that required four hands and fifty wipes…adulthood was calling. Wondering how to love this being who only ever demanded more from me than I had ever given…adulthood was calling. Persistently. Urgently. Adulthood called, and knocked, and rang the doorbell, and eventually broke the door down to get to me.

 
As our child grew, she was as reluctant to pass common adolescent milestones as I was eager to meet them head-on. I called her a late bloomer, a tomboy…a mystery. Sometimes I wondered if she would ever be content in her femaleness, so vehemently she disdained the trappings of the gender. Encouraging her down the trail to maturity frequently felt like herding a flock of gelatin sheep.

 
Yet, a year and a half ago, I watched as that baby girl pledged her life to a Young Man who possesses a smile and a swagger all his own. If she felt like a pretender at any point, as I had, her serene demeanor never betrayed it. And when she announced (just a month later) that she was making me a grandmother, her contentment only deepened.

 
Watching her struggle to bring my first grandchild into the world, I wept with frustration that I couldn’t make it easier for her. She, on the other hand, wasted no energy on tears, but poured herself out with a determination and courage that left me breathless with awe. When her pelvis’s ability to get a baby through was called into question, she summoned a strength I didn’t know she had and pushed him out with sheer indignation.

 

As I watch her parent my (brilliant, sublime) grandson, I stand amazed anew at her maturity and natural, effusive affection. She has a confidence and joy that it took me years to grasp. My own Young Man and I can only smile and shrug when asked to share how she became such a natural…we are wondering as much ourselves.

 

The process of growth is unquantifiable. It steals softly over your consciousness, incrementally creeping, like the dawning of a new day. Who can tell when the light finally breaks over the horizon? In spite of my best efforts, my daughter arrived through the gate in her own good time. And I find that, instead of being miles ahead, I’m content to walk alongside her and share the journey.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

(originally written for this contest last fall. I didn’t win. Anyone want to give me $3K anyway?)

 

(When did YOU feel like you had reached adulthood?)

 

Metaphor Monday

MM

 

God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.*

 

Sometimes I despair of ever getting this thing right. And by this thing, I mean this walking out the Christian life, this working out my own salvation, this picking up my cross daily.

 

This Faith Thing.

 

More specifically, this Trust Thing.

 

I know His thoughts and ways are higher than mine by a distance of approximately earth to ionosphere x infinity, but knowing that doesn’t really make my heart ache less when testing and trials come. I’m just being honest.

 

How do you trust when you feel completely demolished? How do you trust when you have been peeled down to the bone, laid bare and open, reduced to ash and dust and tears? Okay, so you may have asked for it, but did He really have to answer with such swift violence?

 

Frankly, how do you trust when you feel picked on by God Himself? When, no matter how wrong you know it is, your image of Him through your pain is of the schoolyard bully, standing and smirking over your bruised and bleeding form with clenched fists, ready to pound again if you so much as move?

 

He does not take delight in our pain. He takes delight in our healing.

 

This He has told me. This I struggle–oh, how I struggle–to believe.

 

But I cling to the truth of it, even when my heart cries foul and my flesh cries uncle.

 

He is not a bully. He is not out to get me. He is not God of the cruel and the petty and the hurting for hurting’s sake.

 

Whatever pain afflicts me, I MUST cling to the truth that He is seeing something worth saving through it. If He strips me down to the studs, He will rebuild again. If there is rot, and termite, and cracks from building upon sand, He will make new. It is a horrible, fearful process, this soul-renovation. It is ugly.

 

But He is God of the ugly.

 

He does not shrink back from making something look worse in order to restore it to newness. Earthly restoration experts see an old building and envision what it was in its glory days…and are driven to pour money and time into bringing it back. The process is ugly. Often, worse flaws are uncovered as the plaster is torn away. The experts must decide: is the cost worth the end result? Sometimes their answer is no.

 

His answer is never no.

 

The crucifixion was the ultimate, divine YES. The price He paid covers all our restoration costs. It was the ugliest restoration project ever embarked upon. Our enemy, the earth’s foreman, told Him it wasn’t worth the trouble. He didn’t listen.

 

And sometimes, in the daily working out in me, He must use a spiritual pneumatic drill. Restoration is violent business. But I must trust that He will never destroy what is of value. He delicately plucks the holy from the profane and polishes it to a high gloss. In the midst of the dust and noise and wreckage, He knows what to save and what to abandon.

 

Often His opinion is the opposite of mine.

 

Thus, the trouble with this Trust Thing.

 

But if I listen hard enough…if my ears are tuned to a heavenly frequency…I can hear Him rejoicing over me in the midst of the jackhammer and hacksaw. If Trust is allowed to permeate my heart, the whole cacophony is transformed into a divine love song.

 

*1 Sam. 16:7

Metaphor Monday

MM

 

Hi! It’s been a while, but I’m finally back with a metaphor on my mind. Today it’s short and sweet. In more ways than one. In a very non-metaphorical way, there’s this:

 

baby squirrel

 

It’s a baby squirrel. Daughter found it on a walk. Literally, it’s short and sweet. At least, *I* think so. *You* may think it’s a hideous abomination, but if you do, please keep it to yourself or I’ll kick you off this island.

 

My bloggy island, that is. Where my opinion lives in peace and quiet.

 

Hey! That’s kind of a metaphor right there! But not my metaphor for today. Please try to keep up.

 

My daughter found this baby squirrel and brought it home. It was cold. And twitchy. But very much alive. Parents? No idea. Ability to survive on its own? Nil. Being that my daughter has hot red blood pumping through her veins and not cold blue alien slime, she felt compelled to assist. And I completely understood. 

 

However, I was instantly aware that I was absolutely unprepared and completely ignorant in the basics of pinkie-squirrel care. I was terrified of killing it. I knew from experience that it could end quite tragically, and now that every. single. one. of my small children had clapped eyes upon it and declared it the single most adorable critter in the universe, well…let’s just say I was emotionally unwilling to deal with the aftermath, K?

 

So I looked up a wildlife rehabber and drove in the inky blackness for over an hour into the desolate wilderness of the Oklahoma Outback to take her this one. pinkie. squirrel.

 

And I don’t regret it for an instant. I was out of my league. I knew my limits. I had to get help from someone who knew more than I, someone with more experience than I, someone who had access to information and equipment that I did not. It was not the time for bravado and bumbling.

 

So my point is, we all have our limits. We all know when we need help with something. What do we do? We look to someone with the information we need. Someone who knows what we know not, and who has what we have not. Everyone. In. The. World. has asked for help once or twice in their life, I guarantee it. And yet…

 

So often we draw the line at asking God for help. We will ask anybody else besides Him. We look to science, to human intellect, to the proud and the strong and the rich. We take our cold, twitching, naked souls and entrust them to human hands, expecting them to fulfill our needs and answer our questions. But He is the only One able to take that helpless thing and make it thrive.

 

I am grateful for that little squirrel today. I am grateful for Annette Tucker and her willingness to help with even the tiniest of God’s creatures. Because He chooses, so often, for the foolish things to shame the wise and the weak things to shame the strong. And that tiny baby squirrel reminds me today that my pride is no place for desperate situations. When it’s a matter of life and death, you go to those who have experience in rescuing. And when it’s a matter of life and afterlife…well…He’s the ultimate Rescuer.

 

Got a metaphor for me today? Be sure to leave me a comment or a link!

Metaphor Monday

It’s been a while, but welcome to Metaphor Monday once again! Remember to share your own metaphors in the comments, or leave me a link, as I do love and adore a good metaphor.

 

 

Have you ever done anything that flies in the face of the American Mentality? You know, the one that goes “spend freely, get credit, don’t deprive yourself, buy new”? We live under a daily barrage of messages that tell us we deserve the latest and best of everything, and that anything less is deprivation.

 

It is good to live on a budget, to buy used, and to spend wisely. Most of us would agree that, although it is difficult at times, it is worth it in terms of peace of mind.

 

I know a family, however, who is taking it a step further.

 

This family, the wife/mother of which I am priviledged to call my very best buddy in the world, has recently decided to do all they can to get out of debt. Not because they HAVE to, but because it is a dream they believe God is spurring them towards.

 

This means they will leave their lovely and practically-new modern house in the suburbs of Tulsa, to forgo the community swimming pool and the walking trails and the abundant storage space and the multiple bathrooms…and the sizeable mortgage…in order to live in a derelict double-wide on ten acres in a less than tony area.

 

This double-wide, when I went with her a few weeks ago to look at it, sat forlornly on its moorings in the middle of a scrubby field long untouched by human improvements. The north side was covered with mildew. The back “deck” was of uncertain stability. A chain link fence circled the perimeter rather drunkenly. Once inside, the distinct smell of uncivilized doggy habitation was immediately overwhelming, as was the color of the ancient pink carpetting.

 

Everywhere, the neglect was readily apparent, in grime and holes and peeling linoleum. Add to that the ubiquitous mobile-home “elegance” of brassy fixtures and “stained glass” panels, and you can imagine that the faint-of-heart would have gotten into their comfortable SUV’s and peeled out like the Dukes of Hazard.

 

But not so my friends. They saw something different. What the world would call junk, they called potential. Where most people would say “not worth the work” they said “let’s get to work” . What the world would call crazy they call vision. What the world would call a used-up mobile home–tear it down and move on–they call…Bessie.

 

You can read Bessie’s whole ongoing story by clicking the link above. It is a story well-worth reading and I love it so much because in it…I see my story. And your story. And the world’s story.

 

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8

 

“For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7

 

What was called worthless…useless…abandoned…forgotten…ugly…dirty…not worth the trouble…smelly…hopeless…unstable…unlikely…abused…Jesus called My Bride, and died to make her new. He saw past the broken facade to the Glorious Possibility, counted the cost and called it worthwhile.

 

 

There was nothing Bessie could do for herself but sit alone, sinking further into ignomy and decay. Her rescuers swept in to snatch her from a fate she could do nothing about.

 

Sounds awfully familiar to me.

 

My friends work for financial freedom–they work in joy and hope because of the vision in their hearts of a life unburdened by bills and worry, so they can give more freely and reap unsparingly.

 

Jesus came, and for the joy set before Him, died on a cross for our freedom, so we could live our lives unburdened by the weight of sin and the sorrow of death.

 

It’s my favorite metaphor of all…so true and tangible and full of Him.

Death: A Metaphor for Life

Welcome to Metaphor Monday, friends!

 

 

When we housesat for my parents, one of the things we did while we were there was visit the little country cemetary down the road.

 

It always surprises me when people exclaim “ooh…creepy!” when I tell them we did this.

 

I don’t find cemetaries creepy in the least. I find them peaceful, lovely places, although often the sadness of tiny graves with one date alone grieves me greatly.

 

 

Another response I get is “why?” when I tell people we visited a cemetary in which no one we know personally is buried.

 

Frankly, one reason is for the kick-ass names.

 

Parthenia! Sedonia! Ketchum! I’m overwhelmed by the awesomeness.

 

Hanorah and Bluford, sittin’ in a tree…

 

 

But mostly I visit a cemetary to be reminded of the fleeting quality of life. There’s something so grounding about the incontrovertible truth. The evidence is all around me. This is not our home. This is just Earthcamp. And someday these earthly tents we inhabit will be laid to rest.

 

 

Our birth ushers us onto life’s stage, and our death sweeps us out. If you don’t know where Home is, how will you recognize it when you reach that Door? I hope the simple truth touches your heart before the sun sets on this campground.

 

 

Calvin Miller said it best, and delightfully metaphorically, in his poem:

 

I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,
When it was but the end of pulse and breath,
But now my eyes have seen that, past the pain,

There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.

Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,
For living’s such a temporary art.
And dying is but getting dressed for God,

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.

 

 

Have a metaphor for me today? Please leave a link in the comments!

Metaphor Monday, except not

Hi ho, friends! I DO have a metaphor for you today, but it has a movie to go along with it to really drive the point home, and I unfortunately do not have said movie uploaded at this time. So next Monday, fer sure.

 

If YOU have a metaphor, please post it! Leave me a comment so I can get my metaphorical fix for the day, if you please!

 

Instead of a metaphor, let me just see if I can give you a few reasons to smile today.

 

This:

 

 

Toby’s Zoolander face:

 

 

No. He’s never seen the movie. His expression was completely spontaneous. I don’t know what this means for his future.

 

Also, the other day, I was in the market for some new deodorant (I realize this is somewhat more than a rabbit trail. It’s more of an out-of-control spaceship plowing a trough in a wheat field as it crashes to earth, but I never promised to be coherent, especially on a Monday)

 

Now, let me just say that to NOT smell like a wet skunk is satisfactory to me, but what I saw opened my eyes to a fragrant wonderland of pitty delights. I had no idea such choices were becoming available my bodily cavities. Why, I could smell like Cherry Mischief if I wanted to!

 

Wasn’t she a Bond girl?

 

How about Rockstar Rose? 

 

Forget it. Then I saw that I could smell like Classic Romance, or Delicious Bliss.

 

My daughter Rose thought it said Delicious Bass. Which I think very well could be the next great thing in Men’s deodorant, but for women, notsomuch.

 

The one that really caught my eye, though, was called (are you ready?)

 

(wait for it)

 

(seriously.)

 

Sexy Intrigue.

 

My brain almost exploded with the possibilities. My armpits? Could smell not just sexy, but intriguingly sexy?

 

Images of myself with a train of men, sniffing the air in my wake, compelled by the intrigue, Pied-Piper-style, flashed through my mind.

 

What more could armpits want?

 

So I bought it.

 

I knew you’d want to know.