Paws and Purpose

The question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us.”  C.S. Lewis

I was deep in the midst of a hectic day at work when the phone in my pocket announced the arrival of a new picture message… IMG_6701Sneaking a quick peek, I glimpsed an image that was instantly familiar, but definitely out of place. There in the midst of wrinkled sheets and crumpled pillows lay a warmly familiar fuzzy bear. Face down, paws outstretched, in comfort or in reverence, I don’t know. Relaxed. At home. Comfortable.

A thousand images of dimpled cheeks, chubby fingers, and cozy bear hugs flashed through my mind and heart. It was my son’s bear. Was. Years ago. He had long left behind his fuzzy friend for the world of video games, high school, and cars. He no longer needed the presence, friendship, or comfort of Little Bear. Bittersweet, it took me a moment to fully recognize the importance of the candid photo my daughter had just snapped. Little Bear left us several months ago. My daughter works at an assisted living facility and had recently devised a creative, thoughtful idea: outgrown childhood stuffed animals may find new purpose in the faithful, tired arms of her elderly residents. It had been less traumatic for me to release Little Bear knowing that he would find a new home, a fresh start, and a renewed purpose. This was my first glimpse into his new life.

IMG_6695The following day I received a second Little Bear photo with the caption: “He got the place of honor today.”  There he lay atop the pillow of a worn soul, young yet old, offering comfort and companionship, love and acceptance.

I doubt Little Bear is really aware that he is loved and wanted and fulfilling his purpose… Walking out his calling as a companion and a comfort. He wasn’t knit together with a heart and soul longing for acceptance and communion. A place to belong and a purpose to fulfill. A calling. A knowing of who he is, why he is here, and how he can make a difference. A need to love and be loved. To comfort and be comforted.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

Is everyone created with a need to feel that they belong and are loved? That they have a purpose? An inner knowing that they can make a difference?

I started a new bible study this week. The promise and chosenencouragement for today: Philippians 1:6 says “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Okay, so maybe the verse doesn’t exactly reference teddy bears or life goals and purpose but it does point back to a past, a beginning, as well as project forward to a process, and finally to an end. A completion. A purpose. It’s a promise. It doesn’t guarantee an easy journey and doesn’t say we won’t be repurposed along the way. But it says He knows, He plans, He gives, He completes. When there is confusion, loss, or lack of direction along the way, there is promise of presence, purpose and completion. And for that I am thankful.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from     beginning to end.   Ecc 3:11

Rescue

rescue

  • [res-kyoo]   verb  
  • to free or deliver from confinement, violence, danger, or evil.

“All I want for my birthday is a cat.”  That’s how it all started. So simple, yet so complicated.

We spent the weeks leading up to his birthday visiting pet stores, animal shelters and various rescue sites. He wanted them all. He loved them all.IMG_6368 He explored aisle after aisle, inspecting cage after cage with mixed emotions: excitement to find the perfect companion, mixed with the weighty sadness of looking into the eyes of caged, abandoned animals. Some knew no other life. They had been born into bondage. Others had been helpless victims of life situations they didn’t understand: health crisis, death, family move, divorce, new relationship, tiredness, or simply inconvenience and lack of commitment.

Then he saw her.

 She was a skinny, sad looking ball of uneven, not-sure-what-color fur. The hand-scribbled tag attached to her cage listed her color as “diluted” but I thought she just looked tired and faded..worn and sad, maybe even hopeless; but he reached down and chose her, lifting her out of her caged despair, abandonment, and neglect and into a new world of light and love and life. She leaned into his chest and enfolded herself in his arms and held on. Very close. Very still. She could hear his heartbeat and he could hear the revving of her hope and contentment as she purred like the sound of a thousand well-tuned engines. That’s all it took: leaning in, hearing his heartbeat, trusting his hold and his love for her.

Why did he choose her? Nothing special, she did nothing to earn his love. There were more attractive, well-groomed cats. Cats who jumped, played, made noise, and vied for attention. She was sick, imperfect: fleas, watery eyes, and a little off balance…not very pretty or desired by most standards, but he loved her. He reached in and pulled her close. He wiped her eyes, held her tight, and took her home. She was perfect.

I won’t suggest that animal neglect or abandonment should be weighed on the same scale as human suffering.  There are greater, more urgent crises: orphans, slavery, addiction, oppression, starvation, victimization.  I won’t offer suggestions or supposed remedies. I will just simply reflect on how one small act can make a difference in a very small corner of a great big world. One choice, one rescue at a time.

IMG_6370 I will also remember what it means to be chosen: to be set free, to be held, nurtured, and loved. To be fed, provided for, trained. I will remember that regardless of the situation, the bondage, or the cage,  I can lean in, be still, and be rescued.   And for that, I am thankful.

Friends In Low Places

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!  Ecc 4:9-10

It’s inevitable… We will all have a day, a week, a month, or an IMG_6078entire season when we hit a wall…experience discouragement… walk through the valley…shoulder the weight of the world. Not necessarily a dark night of the soul, but a dark cloud of the head and heart. A place where life and liberty and estrogen and serotonin collide. In the midst of trials, conflict, confusion, and darkness, today I am thankful for friends who walk the path, sit in the ashes, and travel though the valleys: friends in low places.

I suspect that the low, surly rumblings of the old, well-known country song are resonating in some ears right now. In the song, the “Friends in Low Places” were the people who were accepting, fun, welcoming …not necessarily wealthy and accomplished, but familiar and trusted. Elements of loss and rejection rang familiar…and maybe even a little retaliation for the hurt; but those are not the “low places” or the friends I have in mind. What about the friends who bend low, stoop, crawl, or just sit? The friends with big ears and big hearts and comfortable sofas and hot coffee? Those with wise words, bowed heads, outstretched arms, and knowing eyes?

The road to a friend's house is never long...
The road to a friend’s house is never long…

The world often measures success by material gain, social status, and ability to achieve. We’re encouraged, often feeling entitled, to do what we want to do, when we want to do it, regardless of consequences…to not be concerned with others’ opinions of us because we have”rights” and expectations; but with all this increasing independence, self-sufficiency, and self-focus often come disconnection and loneliness. We’re encouraged to do it our way, on our own, with no help or advice. Yes, I’ve been guilty. I’ve been prone to isolate, to keep silent, to smile and say everything is fine…and it is. But I’m learning to admit when it’s not: when life is hard, I’m struggling, or I’m just tired, discouraged, weary.

How about you? Do you have friends in low places? IMG_6081Brothers or sisters to shoulder the load, bear the weight, be the hands and feet of Jesus?

The group Need To Breathe has a popular song out right now: “Brother.”

Let the lyrics fall on open ears and a receptive, teachable heart. Today I am thankful for friends in low places.


“Brother”

Ramblers in the wilderness, we can’t find what we need
Get a little restless from the searching
Get a little worn down in between
Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own schemes
Everybody needs someone beside em’ shining like a lighthouse from the sea

Brother let me be your shelterIMG_6075
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Face down in the desert now there’s a cage locked around my heart
I found a way to drop the keys where my failures were
Now my hands can’t reach that far
I ain’t made for a rivalry I could never take the world alone
I know that in my weakness I am strong, but
It’s your love that brings me home

Brother let me be your shelter                   
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

And when you call and need me near
Sayin’ where’d you go?
Brother I’m right here
And on those days when the sky begins to fall
You’re the blood of my blood
We can get through it all

 thankful

Visit http://www.marshasmusings.com to share thankfulness. You will be blessed. (Even though it’s Friday 🙂 )

A Time For Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  (Ecc 3:1)

thankfulI’m getting a late start on this thankful Thursday…too busy sitting on the porch sipping tea and watching the birds, butterflies, and falling leaves. This is probably my favorite time of year. As the long, oppressive “dog days” of Summer are retreating to their IMG_5866quiet slumber, 😉 the days eagerly offer warmth and sunshine while the nights have began hinting at the cooler, more refreshing time to come. The blooms of Spring are still painting a vivid tapestry in my back yard while the leaves on the trees are showing signs of becoming weary and worn. Today I am thankful for the continuing faithfulness of changing seasons.

A refreshing Summer storm blew through this week and dotted my porch with IMG_5883splotches of brown and yellow and green. There was a distinctly different feeling in the air: crisp, light, refreshing. Birds and butterflies were alive IMG_5899with the busyness of living and enjoying the dampness of the air and the coolness of the breeze. The sky seemed brighter, the grass seemed greener, the sun seemed friendlier, and even the moon seemed larger and more mysterious. I’m continually amazed at the marvel of creation when I simply take the time to stop and see, feel and breathe.

It’s mesmerizing to watch leaves twirl and drift IMG_5902to the earth, butterflies explore the intricacies of wildflowers, and hummingbirds dart and dance. I marvel at the sight of sunflowers stretching for the sun and crepe myrtles exploding in color. I bask in the the warmth of sunshine and wind on my face. Thankfulness comes with remembrance. I’m reminded that today is a gift and this moment, this season, is fleeting. There will come a season when the leaves have fallen and the butterflies are stilled, the
IMG_5893sun will seem distant and the wind bitter IMG_5905and cruel. So today I will sit, stop, and be still in this moment..thankful for a lingering moment in this season.

IMG_5903

Small Town, USA

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.   Isaiah 32:18

My family and I recently helmeted up, refreshed our water bottles, IMG_5696and hit the trails: the wooded trails, outstretched bridges, and intersecting pathways of our very own hometown. While some may prefer the lights, sounds, and bustle of a larger, busier city, today I’m thankful for life and love and liberty in a small Southern town. Small Town, USA is the only town my children know… “born and bred” as the local farmers and horse breeders might say. We’ve traveled and stayed and seen and felt bigger, more populated and sophisticated venues, but there’s nothing quite like the fit and feel of our small Southern town. Well…maybe it isn’t exactly small. We do have four Walmarts and eight Starbucks. Eight! People around here like their coffee. 🙂  So maybe I’m actually thankful for the blessing of living in a medium-sized town, or using Starbucks terminology, grande-town, USA. But the feel is the same: warm, inviting, friendly…always somewhere to go, something to do, someone to see.

IMG_5691

The flag still flies high at the town square. Benches are scattered, welcoming and offering rest. A bible sits encased, open, inviting. There’s a city cafe, a coffee shop, a hardware store. A very traditional, welcoming, historical area rejuvenated by small business and specialty shops, it still hosts jazz festivals, farmers’ markets, and various community activities. We biked right up to the local ice cream shop and enjoyed cold homemade treats as we sat outside, watching the traffic lights turn and neighbors stroll  by.  We explored the sidewalks and storefronts: window shopping, talking to fellow sojourners, and admiring history and the beauty of the sun setting over our quiet little town. Statues, monuments, and other historical markers dot the square and provide admiration and recollection of the history and privilege offered to our generation from those who lived, fought, and died before us. Did I mention it’s a Civil War town?   IMG_5564IMG_5563   IMG_5689 Constantly changing and growing,  it is progressive and contemporary, offering adult and family activities, shopping, and restaurants, yet quaint and comfortable enough that we still run into friends when we’re out on the town. It is    steeped in history, agriculture, education, and great economic development, but also strife, sickness, and civil war. It is both small but large, new but old.

The final trail in our journey led us through the Stones River IMG_5708Battlefield where our footsteps and tire tracks retraced the steps and the lives of soldiers, generals, and giants. Larger than pages from a history book, we heard the very echoes of history and smelled the gunpowder signaling strife and division as the cannons fired in reenactment of the tragic battles. I won’t lie… My eyes were misty and my heart heavy as the smoke cleared and the echoes faded. Such a strange combination of pride, sadness, relief, and thankfulness.  From the carefree refreshment of bike trails and ice cream to the heaviness of reflection at the tales of war, it’s still home.

IMG_5694 IMG_5695 IMG_5693 Yes, I’m thankful to be a part of small town life, work, and worship; but I’m also thankful to be connected to the big world of others living and loving through thankfulness at http://www.marshasmusings.com.  Come visit and give thanks.  🙂 thankful

Hope

Well…here it is Friday morning and I’m writing a thankfulThankful Thursday blog post. I’m thankful that Marsha at http://www.marshasmusings.com is full of grace and mercy, as well as thankful for the opportunity to participate in joining with others to express our thankfulness on her page.

Honestly, I write with heavy heart. Another shooting, a senseless tragedy…this time much closer to home. Over the mountain and down the street.. The streets where we go and play and laugh and sight-see…where we visit the aquarium and ride on the trolley and sip our coffee on the corner…where we stroll and shop and wonder at the art, the river, and the history…where we explore the mountain trails and rocks and marvel at the beauty of creation.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.   Psalm 121:1-2

Washington, D.C 085The air, the conversation, and the media are all filled with fear, anger, accusation, hateful words, images of loss of life and hope and dream. I don’t understand the hate-filled taking of innocent lives: brothers, fathers, sons, friends. I don’t understand how a person, a group, or a nation could be filled with so much anger, hatred, contempt, deception, and ill will. People are broken. Ideas and beliefs are broken. The world is broken.

So where is the hope?

“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”  1Peter 1


IMG_5313“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them…

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, IMG_5425who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”  (2 Cor 4:3-9)

IMG_5424The fragility of humanity… We stuff our vessels full of dreams, desires, and material possessions and pack them around until our backs are bent and our energy spent; or we hide them away, hording and saving, insecure, fearful, uncertain. We scheme, we plan, we intend; but all our plans may crumble and slip away in a matter of moments. Today I am thankful that no matter how unpredictable, unfair, irrational, or maddening our life and our situations may be, no matter what the enemy attempts to steal, kill, or destroy, we are promised hope and deliverance.

My heart is still heavy. It cries out for justice and relief. It hurts for the anger and the IMG_5426hate and the grief and for those who feel the hurt and the hopelessness the most. It can’t make sense of the all the pain and suffering in the world…even right down the street. The world is broken, but we are not of this world, and we have hope. Praying for hope in Chattanooga.

Independence Days

This week’s Thankful Thursday is brought to you from somewhere amidst the thankfulrubble of burnt out sparklers and spent Roman candles, from the last echoes of the thunder claps of exploding fireworks, and from the shadows of the painted reds, whites, and blues showering the sky. Today I am thankful for freedom!

I spent the week preceding Independence Day strolling IMG_5322the streets of one of the nation’s oldest, most historical cities. I toured forts where both Revolutionary and Civil War battles had been fought. I admired authentic flags, relics, and bits of history that were hundreds of years old. It was beautiful.

It was informative. It was encouraging, humbling, and inspirational. Walking the cobblestone streets, touching the fortified walls, and hearing the historical struggles and facts caused me to reflect on war and peace, life and death, freedom and slavery. It made me thankful for battles fought, wars won, lives offered, and freedoms obtained.

We also experienced a more personal “Independence Day” at our home this week. My daughter officially moved out into her own apartment. How did twenty years go by so fast? She has found independence…a taste of well-earned, nobly obtained freedom. IMG_5312I’m not rejoicing in my half-empty nest or my newly found freedom…but hers. I am thankful for the reward that years of sowing and building and praying and teaching have brought.  I am thankful that we have been gifted and chosen to watch her stand, then walk, then fly on her own…into a new stage of life, freedom, and independence.

Freedom presents itself in many forms. Last night I sat high on the bleachers in a stuffy old gym, watching a group of teenagers swim. Specifically..my teenager. Two thoughts were evident in my mind:  “Wow, he sure has gotten good” and “wow, he looks so graceful and free.”  Like so many other teenagers, he has had his struggles with peer pressure, bullying, and fitting in, but in the pool… He is free. Smoothly and purposefully, he seems to defy physics and gravity and the weight of the world seems to roll off him like the drops of water he emerges from.

His form is fluent, artistic, poetic… and absolutely free. I especially like to watch his backstroke and his butterfly. He has found his path to shut out the voices and pressures and walk, or swim, his own trail. It has brought me such joy and thankfulness to watch his transformation, his battles being fought and won, and him raising his personal flag of freedom against the embittered war that rages around him daily. He is free.

IMG_5320So many freedoms, opportunities, and blessings. Free country: I have freedom to speak and eat and read and go and do most anything I feel led to. Free will: I have the capacity and the gift to choose whom to be with, to love, and to serve. Free to _______ and free from _________. You fill in the blanks. I am thankful for the freedom to be, the freedom to do, the freedom to want and work and gain. I am also thankful to be free from condemnation, guilt, shame, and sin. No longer a prisoner. Be thankful for another Independence Day.

Poles, Piers, Porches, and Pools

This addition of Thankful Thursday brought to you from peaceful shores thankfuljust outside the beautiful, historic city of Charleston, South Carolina. Today I’m thankful for vacation!

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Charleston, my heart is still grieved, but also stirred, as many flags in the area are still flying at half staff, remembering and honoring those who lost their lives. Like soldiers’ salutes or the FullSizeRender (6)collective bowing of heads in respect, the sentries of flag poles have held their charges low, draped like humble coverings over the dead and wounded. In the midst of pain, peace and remembrance soar in the colors of red, white, and blue draped across those flag poles.

And other poles… The sounds of clicks, swishes, and splashes echo like the ripples in the waters where we have cast, reeled, and waited: fishing poles. Cast, watch, wait, repeat. Relax, talk, wiggle toes in the water, feel the warmth of the sun, repeat. Ride the boat, walk the shore, squish the sand, pad the pier… A sturdy Adirondack chair adirondack-001sits confidently at the end of the pier and faces west. The sun sinks, the poles rise, the pier sways, and we are thankful. The pier stretches like a faithful friend who has been with us every step of the way, encouraging us out to the deep, to walk in faith, to explore and live. We walk the piers over the marshes, the river, the harbor, the ocean. They creak, they sway, they are imperfect, uneven, and splintered but they take us to places beyond the shore and open our eyes to sites otherwise unseen. They support us and let us rest for awhile.

I sit, I type, I start the morning with a welcoming  cup of coffee and an invigorating breeze. It’s vacation. 🙂 The downstairs porch is screened and looks out over the marina as the boats sway sleepily in the rocking water. The upstairs porch is open but the coffee and the view are the same. The sound is the same.FullSizeRender (7) It is both silent and deafening. The water repeatedly whispers to the shore and the seagulls and pelicans screech and swoop and shout out early morning conversations. The thoughts are loudest when the world is quiet and the schedule is undemanding and forgiving. Porches are sanctuaries, meeting places, and welcoming friends who encourage you to sit, still, reflect, and be thankful.

What vacation is complete without a little dip in the blue waters? restThe pool is nestled between palm trees, a gurgling fountain, and footprints of excited children. It is blue and warm and inviting. Splash bombs, back flips, and swim races transform my almost-adults into laughing, carefree children. It makes me smile. 🙂 It makes me think. It makes me thankful. Palm trees sway, the wind blows, the water splashes, the flagcrosslaughter and lightness lift my head and lift my spirit. The sky is blue, the wind is warm, and next to the pool another flag is waiting and waving and bowing. I am thankful.


A Bridge Over Troubled Water

bridge

[brij]

noun

1. a structure spanning and providing passage over a river, chasm, road, or the like. 

2. a connecting, transitional, or intermediate route or phase between two adjacent elements, activities, conditions, or the like

verb (used with object)                                                      thankful

1. to make a bridge or passage over; span
2. to join by or as if by a bridge
3. to make (a way) by a bridge

What a strange thought to come to mind on this Thankful Thursday: I’m thankful for bridges. The prompt? This headline:

Thousands form ‘Bridge to Peace’ Unity Chain to honor church shooting victims

The Ravenel bridge  is one of many sites that has been on our vacation “to see” list since we initially considered a Summer trip to Charleston. We’ve contemplated and planned and anticipated the trip for months, excited to study the wonderful architecture, stroll the historic streets, visit the beautiful gardens, bask on the warm beaches, and tour the many historic homes, churches, and Civil War sites. When news of the tragic church shooting exploded all over the media, there were so many analytical and emotional responses expressed nationwide: hurt, disbelief, anger, sadness, blame, hatred. It was difficult to fathom how widespread the ripple effect of the pain caused by this tragic loss of life would be. It was a senseless loss of brothers and sisters who had been walking in faith, worshiping, and praying…believers who had been welcoming and vulnerable in the face of hatred and evil. Sadly and selfishly however, somewhere beneath my initial expressions of grief and outrage simmered shallow, lurking questions: What will this mean for our visit? Will there be protests in the streets? Will we be looked upon with suspicion or resentment? Will there be danger?charlestonbridge

Then thousands of hands, hearts, and voices stood together, walked the Ravenel bridge, and stood in unity, in grief, in hope. What the enemy had intended for hate, hurt, and death transformed into love, hope, forgiveness, and life.

handbridgeThe betrayed and wounded painted a picture of grace and forgiveness. The hurt became the healers. In walking the bridge, they built a bridge.

In the literal sense, it would be impossible to travel our great nation without the many bridges spanning the mountains, valleys, and rivers. What a great idea: build a way across chasms, gorges, bridgeniterivers, and roadways! Pretty amazing really: architectural marvels and works of art at the same time! Someone dreamed, someone crafted, and they became reality.

Sometimes bridges can seem a little scary and uncertain… reaching, stretching across the unknown. What’s on the other side? Will it hold up under the weight? What would it be like to stay in one place, routine, sedentary and not go beyond the usual, the known, the comfortable…
Maybe that’s a stretch…  What about the metaphorical bridges: Spanning the gaps? Narrowing the differences? Meeting on the other side? Connecting? Making a way? What about this:
bridgecross
John 10:10
 Deep water, troubled water, raging water, murky and uncertain water…A secure bridge crosses over and provides safe passage and deliverance.
So, yes, I am thankful for bridges: bridges that connect, bridges that create unity and passage, bridges that traverse the gaps that divide, destroy, or swallow life and hope and love and unity. I am thankful for people who stretch and link and hold firm to connect and bond and strengthen and unite. I am thankful that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Stood in the gap. Became a bridge: bridgewoodthe way,
     the truth, the life. bridgewooden
bridge5**Special thanks to April Knight, worship artist, for the beautiful sketch “Charleston Strong.”   Check out her talent at http://www.scripturedoodle.com and order the print.  🙂

Thankful For The Written Word

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   2 Tim 3:16-17


We have lots of i’s in our home: iPods, iPads, iPhones. All of our i’s have apps: games, learning, productivity, photo editing, reading… We have iBooks, Kindle, Nook, and school and regional library reading apps. FullSizeRender (1)It’s amazing really…all the devices combined can hold thousands of books, probably more than I could read in a life time. I also have several digital bibles and can switch back and forth between versions faster than I could ever flip the old fashion chapter index tabs. But…newer doesn’t necessarily mean better. While I appreciate the convenience and portability of these devices,  they definitely change the landscape of the reading experience. Swiping the electronic screen Processed with Moldivto the next page doesn’t have the same aesthetic sound and feel as the repetitive swish of a finger seeking the next page. Bookmarking feels incomplete. Electronic highlighting doesn’t feel like the old familiar act of blazing a trail through the sentences, drawing the most important words to the forefront of vision and memory.

While it’s convenient to download a book at home with the mere touch of a button, I still love to stroll the crowded aisles of bookstores, inspect the wares, flip the pages. I like displays that attract and please the eyes. I like books that entice with classy, well-designed covers. I’m always drawn to the bible display: bibles of every size and color and translation. I like leather bibles..the smell, the crisp pages, the words of Jesus emboldened red. Heavy. Weighted with truth, glory, and promise. I write personal notes, reminders, and whispers or shouts of encouragement in the margins and flip back through in remembrance during times of need and wondering. A finger here, a bookmark there, a scrap of paper, a church bulletin, an old picture…Searching for truth, for just the right word.

Not everyone is as fortunate. Some are forced to hide their word. They steal hidden, forbidden glances…then they hide it in their hearts. They risk all for the written word, the living Word. I am thankful that, at this moment in time,thankful I can write the word, speak the work, possess the word with no immediate fear. I can share the word, sing the word, frame it on my wall, write it on my doorpost, or even tattoo on my skin if I choose. There is power and remembrance in both the spoken word and the written word.

I’m also thankful for the teachers, scholars, and students of the word who have researched, learned, listened, and then taught the word..sometimes forging the written word into expanded narratives, challenging lessons, and thoughtful ponderings.

These are the written words I’ve been exploring during the last few weeks. giftsI am thankful that I don’t have to hide them, thankful they are readily available, and thankful for the weight I feel in my hand as I hold them and the lightness in my heart when I read them. bethmoorebook

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”       Psalm 119:105