I remember being 9 years old, and it was the birth of the 70’s. In Kansas City my mommy was exploring her different sides. The country was challenging the status quo. People were wondering how to become ‘free’. Jobs, and responsibilities, old-time values, and wars we didn’t want to fight, were shackles.
How amazing everything is when you’re 9 years old. I was just about to be introduced to Narnia, and a lifetime love of reading. I saw the world through the safety of my family’s lens, yet I was absorbing so much. My oldest brother and his explosion of music, of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Bob Dylan, and Cat Stevens. My mother meeting a lot of sash-wearing, long-haired, folksy people and bringing me along: I caught the nuances of their feelings, the way they chased sunlight, and craved ankle skirts in bold colors, and danced barefoot. One of these was a young mother, with a baby, who’d just been born again and told me about Jesus. She taught me to serve Him free. To take out a verse from the Bible, and find it exciting, like a jewel meant just for me.
One evening my mother took me to an old Kansas City building somewhere. Or maybe these memories I’m about to relate are an amalgamation of experiences my child-mind jumbled together. But I think there was old wood paneling wrapping the walls inside this building, smelling caramelized in beeswax. A carpenter-built stage four feet from the audience, with dancers in flowing, hippy skirts. Bare arms and sashes, wound through and braided in their hair. They did a dance called ‘clogging’. It swept me away, for I’d never seen anything like it.
‘May the circle, be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by, there’s a better, home awaitin’, in the sky, Lord, in the sky’.
These words were sung by guitar players and drummers in a simple band, and expressed by dancers, pounding the syllables into the warm, dark-brown floorboards. They weren’t a famous pop group. They weren’t up and coming. It wasn’t about that. They all felt the heat of this atmosphere, of the swirly world of bright colors, longing to burst out of a person, like freedom.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says this: ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’, or, as is more correctly translated, ‘in your midst’. Meaning, it’s Jesus. He’s here, in the middle of everything. He’s here.
We haven’t felt free lately. We can’t go and dance together, holding hands. We’ve been clogged. But Jesus has given me a lifetime of freedom, and a future home waiting for me.
Down deep inside me, I can still find that child I used to be. I can sing and hold His hand. I can pound the floorboards with my faith. I can hope God will give us more time. I want all my friends, who don’t know this peace, to come. Jesus’ hand is outstretched. He loves us all. Believe it.
Here’s a snippet from Exili Saves the Flintelf. It’s book one in the first mystery series I’ve ever attempted! I didn’t get enthused with you before because, until I finished the second book, I couldn’t claim to have succeeded in a series. I’m editing the two books now, and trying to find plot in my head for the third. Woo hoo, such fun! My main character Exili, is the elucidator, or detective, who’s a hobbit-type creature with sensitive feet. His client is Goodall, a stubborn flintelf unaware of who could be trying to murder him.
‘Exili scolded himself as they continued walking towards the hut. He wondered why of all things; he’d thought this elucidating business such a good idea. Especially, he’d been so smug about running a ‘preventative’ agency. As if that were so simple to do! Much easier, wasn’t it, to examine the clues after the victims were safely dead like the other elucidationists he’d met. There was no feeling of impending doom that way. He realized he’d been over-nervous ever since he’d laid eyes on Goodall. Like walking on fire embers. He glared at his old schoolmate’s back, who’d still not consented to becoming his client. “Ungrateful wretch,” he muttered.
“What was that?” Goodall said in surprise, turning.
Blast! Exili had forgotten the creature’s excellent, pure-elflike hearing. “Nothing,” he grumbled.
“What did I do?”
A list of offences popped effortlessly into his mind.
But as for me, I trust [confidently] in You and Your greatness, O Lord; I said, “You are my God.” 15~ My times are in Your hands; Rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from those who pursue and persecute me.
I love the way this is put. I’m not sure if it’s just a trick of translation into today’s modern English, but saying my ‘times’ are in His hands is beautiful.
When I first read that verse I confess, I wimp out. I’m scared of suffering. I look back on those times I had things even a little bit hard, and I shake my head. I don’t want to be one of those braggarts, the ‘bring it on, I’m ready’ kind. I’m NOT ready, Lord.
He knows all about it. He’s been there when I whine, and get overcome by fear. And He was there when my great fears were realized. I could spell out exactly the lowest moments of my life.
In ways I feel weaker to deal with hardships, not stronger. Yes, I went through a few storms and lived to tell the tale, but when the rain falls too hard now or a distant flash of lightning looms, I run behind the nearest set of bigger legs like a terrified two-year-old.
YET, I was thinking this morning of my ‘times’. All of my times. This moment, right now when I sit here, safe. My husband and children, amazing. My grandchildren, beautiful. There’s a roof over my head and breakfast in my tummy. My mind is working and clear enough to write.
All those times when I laughed with friends, and lifted my face to my Heavenly Love and wept with the majesty of worship, and feeling His love for me in reply. All those times when my imagination went wild and became another world that only I could see. Not to mention holding babies in my arms or getting kissed by a handsome fellow. Wow. I’ve had some powerful, exceptionally goood, times!
I can trust in His greatness, without any problem. I know He’s great. I know He carried me, too. I put my ‘times’ in His hands, because I’ve been doing that all of my adult life. I can’t tell you He answered every prayer in the ways or time periods I desired. But absolutely I should be confident by now. What a dear, constant, ever-guiding, forgiving, comforting and loving friend He is. I’m grateful.
My spatula broke. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t seem like such bad news. It was really old. I bought it in some distant long-ago garage sale or kitchen aisle. I was young then, just starting out in marriage, parenting and life. A handy metal spatula, scraping up enumerable eggs off of sticky skillets, or flattened chip cookie failures. Many, many family dinners, wolfed down by hungry children. One day I realized that ten years had gone by and my spatula was still working. I had a metal spoon, same thing, and an old metal colander. ‘They don’t make things like they used to!’ And then it was twenty years old and then more than twenty-five. This spatula has been with me through everything.
And now, tonight, it finally broke. On the same day that my youngest went off for her last weekend before she moves out. I’m sitting here crying about a spatula. Those years past are precious.
The Lord is telling me there are two ways of looking at this. One is that the spatula is old and broken, beyond its usefulness. The other way is this: This spatula broke, not as a way of saying that everything good is over, but because its job was completed. I’ve served my family through a bunch of scrapes, and bent and got cracked. But I held on till they were strong enough to become adults. I should feel this as a huge accomplishment. It’s been such a privilege! I’m not crying now, but feeling peace.