Tag Archive: life


Glorious!

It rained this morning, 37 F degrees outside and everything wet, gray, chilly… In a word, it was dismal. I don’t enjoy weather like that. It can be depressing and make my whole life appear wet, gray, and chilly. I had to go see my doctor again – discouraging – about my back because SAIF – aggravating – said so. It just wasn’t a good feeling. Dismal, yuck.

Thank goodness life is not really like that. On the way back home, it was no longer raining. There was sun and blue skies. Clouds were still there, sure, and some of them were even gray, but there were light gray ones and dark gray ones and some so light they looked more white than gray. Some even borrowed a halo from the sun as they passed beneath it and the earth. All of this beauty encased the earth below, the upright trees winter-stripped, the evergreens proudly dark, the hills bedecked with vibrantly green grass. Everything glistened under that blue and white and gray sky as the water left by this morning’s rain caught and amplified the sunlight. Glorious! It was marvelously glorious!

And life is far more like that than dismal. God has given us many good things.

I Believe in Love

I have been painting a wall blue today. It’s a beautiful, deep, rich cobalt, so blue it’s almost purple, and it looks really good on my wall. It will look even better once I get the last coat on and it’s had time enough to cure. Painting walls is a familiar task. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to run my brush and roller along, shedding blue onto white, so I’ve had plenty of time to think about other things. Curiously enough, I decided to listen to Leigh Nash today while painting, and the album is titled Blue on Blue. I didn’t remember that until most of the album had played through. Funny how a mind works, hm? Many of the album’s songs talk about love. I’m sure that had nothing to do with my thoughts dwelling on love while painting.

Couldn’t be.

Pure coincidence.

😉

Love – in a state of reverie, I thought about love. The music, Ted Dekker’s Black, conversations with friends and family members, a coworker’s upcoming wedding, thoughts started as I moved from task to task at work yesterday, and who knows what all contributed to the thoughts drifting off the rhythm of my brush. I’ve been thinking about it. I’ll probably still be thinking about it tomorrow.

All these thoughts, some half formed or vaporous, intersected and coalesced into a single, strong, bold insight. I believe in love. I BELIEVE in love. I live for love.

I don’t mean a cute idea, a sloppy word, a nice sentiment, or even a verb. I’m not talking about ordinary love, like the love held for family, friends, communities, or a spouse. As wonderful as all of that can be, it is… inadequate. Insufficient. Pale imitations, all of them. Anemic shadows, too often selfish. These ordinary sorts are not enough, don’t last long enough, don’t fill me up well enough or long enough. They’re great, and I appreciate them, but they poop out. Those types of love get tired and stop, sometimes when my need for love is the greatest.

How about I Corinthians 13? Romans 5:8? Romans 8:38, 39? John 3:16? What about a love that never stops? That never quits? That gives? That is unending? That perseveres? That is transformative? Redemptive? What about a love that flows into and over, more than fills the need, straightens the crooked, and blesses the good? I believe in that kind of love.

That is how God loves me. That is how God loves you.

And it doesn’t stop there. The love God pours into me doesn’t have to stop at the edge of me, at my boundaries, changing only my life. It also pours into others. It can transform the love I offer from anemic to something more robust, something fueled by God’s love that can give more and go longer, something less concerned about me and more concerned about you. I can love others better because God loves me.

In that kind of love, I believe.

For that kind of love, I live.

I believe in love.

The Goodness of God

I’m afraid that I was far too distracted this week by things like fresh, Oregon strawberries to give much thought to another post on brokenness. I’ve got one still brewing, but it’s not quite there. In the meantime, I poked around my blog and couldn’t find something that I most certainly have meant to put up, even though I’m recycling an old post from the Well. It’s the post I wrote when my belief in God’s goodness coalesced out of the faint hope and intellectual void where the Spirit of God hovered over the deep of my soul. I had been struggling, trying to reconcile the idea that God could be good with the reality of pain, limitations, and the crappy things people sometimes do to each other, and I had a completely unexpected revelation that changed my heart. Man, through nothing I did, the light came on for me, and here’s my attempt to express it:

August, 2005

I woke up this morning thinking about one place, one time. Ever said that? I have, especially at work when I have too many people wanting me to be doing too many things in several different locations all at once. It’s really frustrating when all the needs are valid and more or less immediate. Makes it really hard to prioritize. “I can’t do that right now. I can only be in one place at one time.”

What I realized this morning is that my limited ability to be present applies not only to my body, but also to my soul – my heart, my mind or intellect, and my will. I am pretty small, and I can only live in one place at one time. I can only live for one thing at one time. I’m trying to think how to explain this. I woke up knowing something, but I’m not sure yet just what it is I know.

See, for several years, my life’s purpose has been to love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul, mind and strength. Jesus said that was the greatest commandment, and I figured if He said it was that important, that was what I wanted to do. I had no idea how that would work. There are so many good and important things in life, but God is telling me He wants my all. He says it over and over throughout the Bible. He must be first. I’ve had moments where I’ve resented that (and I’ll probably have more moments like that, too). I mean, if it were another human being who wanted that kind of attention, I would think they were being totally selfish. How could God not also be selfish in saying He wants it all?

I think what I realized is how kind He is in demanding everything. I am small, my resources are limited, and I am only able to live in one place for one thing at a time. Life, with all its problems, pains, people, loves, and answers – it is much too big for me. Life is at this point entropic (entropy, according to Merriam-Webster online, is “2 a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder). It takes who I am and all I have to offer, my heart and soul, mind and strength, and reduces me to a “state of inert uniformity,” to a dead nothingness. The entropy effect within me is hugely magnified every time I choose to contribute my energy, to seek my validation in something besides God, to worship an idol. There is no living to be had from this life. It takes more than I have.

God’s not being selfish in demanding everything. He’s offering to die so that I might live. He knows that left to my own, life will kill me long before I die, especially when I give myself to that which resembles life. By demanding everything I have, He’s ensuring that my life is preserved for release to abundant living and not to entropic living. If you want to save your life, you have to lose it. God is love. No greater love exists than a man lays down his life, and when He tells me, “I want it all, Rebekah. If you want to live, I have to take it all,” that is love speaking. Hm…

As I sat down to write this, I had Nichole Nordeman’s “This Mystery” album playing. The first song up was “Please Come,” and the chorus had this to say. “There is room enough for all of us / Please come / And the arms are open wide enough / Please come / And our parts are never greater than the sum / This is the heart of the One / Who stands before an open door / And bids us, ‘Come'”

God’s not stuck in one place at a time like me. He’s got room enough, His arms are wide enough, His heart is big enough, and He says to please come. I think I’ll take Him up on it.

CPR

I’ve had a couple of opportunities in the last week to practice CPR. One was expected. That would be today’s card renewal, and, no offense to the instructors or the AHA, it was boring – a definite non-event. That’s how it should be. You really don’t want too much excitement at a routine renewal course.  After all, you’re working with dummies, and the idea is to practice and perfect technique.

The other opportunity was an event with lots of excitement. I was working, and we had a new patient come in. Things happened fast, without warning. The patient was fine – the patient was not, and we’re suddenly involved in resuscitation efforts. I mean, the patient had literally been up walking and talking 15 – 30 minutes prior. Things seemed well in hand. I’d left the room and gone down the hall to help other patients only to have to turn around and run back thinking, “Oh, no! What happened?”

It was a well attended event, with representatives from multiple departments and disciplines. I bet at least 40 people showed up to help. Lots of people were in the room. More waited outside. The noise inside was incredible at points, people shouting over the clamor as we fought to get ourselves organized and accomplish our tasks. I was part of the chest compression team, which was an energetic assignment. Unfortunately, resuscitation was not successful. We had to stop, let the patient go, and help care for the patient’s spouse. The spouse, right before leaving, said, “You guys sure tried hard.” We did. We tried very hard.

As I stood in line waiting to do chest compressions, I couldn’t help but think about the renewal class I had today. I’ve done the renewal many times. I knew it would feel very different from the focused chaos that occurs at a real event, and I started to compare and contrast. Renewals are boring. You’re just working with dummies, inanimate lumps of plastic and rubber. Far as I know, dummies don’t have relationships. They don’t have loved ones sitting behind watching you try really hard. Dummies never drew breath, and there’s something faintly ridiculous (and sometimes frustrating) about trying to give them rescue breaths. Dummies never had or have heart beats. You can lay your head down on their chests and listen for as long as you like, and you’ll never hear one. They don’t miss it. You won’t, either. At the most, for a renewal, you’ll have 3 people participating in a resuscitation practice. It’ll be something like an instructor and 2 people working on a dummy for the practice. It’s pretty calm and controlled. In fact, it’s difficult to get people to take it very seriously. There tends to be a lot of dummy jokes! Dummies are also forgettable. You don’t bump into people later and discuss how CPR on the dummy went. Well, maybe if you heard a REALLY good dummy/CPR joke, you might, but otherwise, no.

And then you have people, the real event and why you go to BLS (Basic Life Support) renewal classes. Someone had breath and now does not. Someone’s heart is not beating. Help is needed! The need is emergent, the call goes out, and staff drops what they’re doing to run to help. I did. I ran. My body started putting out adrenaline, and my feet flew quick and sure as I responded. I’ve heard some people say that they love that adrenaline rush, and that’s part of what keeps them working where traumas and resuscitation efforts are more common. I thought about that, too, while I stood there waiting. I thought it over and rejected it as my motivation. That rush is a good feeling, but it’s not enough. There’s something more there. I thought about it and thought about in the last couple of days, until I realized how privileged I felt to be there. “Privileged!” Yes, that is the word I was wanted.

Despite the hardship involved (and it is hard, make no mistake – it can be very physically and emotionally wearing), it is a privilege. Think about it. If someone is in need of CPR, it is probably one of the most significant moments of their experience. They are in profound need of assistance, and relative strangers show up to help them. How is not a privilege to be able to show up and try to help someone in desperate and immediate need? It is a burden and part of my job, ’tis true, but it is also a privilege. What makes it even more amazing is that it’s a group of people. It’s not just me, overcoming my fear and weakness and selfishness to respond. It’s a bunch of people, leaving stuff behind to gather around one person’s bed and work as a team to preserve that one person’s life. Should efforts fail, the group tends to mourn the loss as well. Curiously enough, one of the people in my renewal class today was present at the real event earlier this week. He remembered the patient and talked about it. The patient – that person – was not forgettable. That patient’s presence and absence was felt. We couldn’t help, and now someone’s family will never again hear that person’s voice or heartbeat. It’s worth grieving for them all. Again, how is this not a privilege?

Perhaps the most important difference between practice and people is that in real life, there aren’t any dummy jokes. People are too busy demonstrating that they care about other people, and that they are there for that person who is in need. To be a part of that… to get to respond… to say yes… to sacrifice and show up is most certainly a privilege.

Happily Ever After

I was gone more than I expected to be last week, so I didn’t get a post up. Can’t really say that I’m sorry, though. I got to go visit my friend Steph, which was lots of fun. Then I spent Saturday making sure Carey got to her CBEST test. After the test was over, we went snooping all over the place. We had lunch at The Pink House in Independence. I can’t say I really liked the place. The food was decent (I had a nice, fresh salad), the service was less than fabulous, and the price was too high considering 1 and 2. It wasn’t terrible, but I would not be excited about going there again. Once we finished lunch, we found a used bookstore called Secondhand Books. We definitely had a good time in there. I found an old copy of a Doctor Dolittle book! Anyways, all the being gone was good, but it meant not much writing. I suppose I should plow back into my story!

There I was, in awe over the amazing love of God. I’d been so cynical about it, chalking it up as a fairy tale or a deal simply too good to be true. I’d strongly resisted accepting that “fantasy” as truth, which made the experience of acceptance all the more disarming. I was undone, and I have to say that “in awe” seems inadequate to explain how I reacted. Goodness, there’s only five letters in those two, little words to express my relief and excitement and joy and gratitude and sudden urge to drop to my knees in worship of this God Who loved me first. The biggest problem with dropping to my knees was that I couldn’t jump up and down. It was astounding. I was so happy, and I had lots of fun telling people about it. In fact, I’m having a lot of fun writing about it now. It’s been well over a decade, and I still feel a giddy rush from this memory.

You would think that, having fallen in love and accepted a rescue, and that having experienced the fantastic true love of God, this fairy tale of mine would progress to the age old line, “and she lived happily ever after.” It’s a good line, is it not? It’s how Bilbo wanted to end the story of his adventures, happily ever after. If I were writing my story, I’d like to end on such a happy, reunited note, because it seems like my story had reached a pinnacle there. It was really, really good.

But I’m not the Author, so my story progressed. It went on. I found out that love changed everything, but it changed nothing. It’s a riddle, love is. Just because I’d learned that love will love without its beloved (in this case, me!) being required to care doesn’t mean that I knew much of anything about love. That lesson changed everything but nothing. I didn’t wake up the next morning magically made by the power of love into a perfect person with a perfect life. I still had to work. I still had a family in shards. I still had a huge amount of personal brokenness. In the middle of my messy and difficult life, here comes love, and instead of a fluffy, soft “happily ever after,” it made my life harder.

Yes, harder. Sit with that for a moment. I’m saying that love made my life more difficult. Is that really the way it’s supposed to work? It doesn’t sound like a very good fairy tale or very happily ever after, but that is how it’s worked for me. Harder, because love changes everything, even though it changes nothing. Harder, because love opened a whole, new vista of challenge. I was loved. It was amazing, and it was an experience I wanted to share and to offer, but I did not know how to love other people. In fact, a lot of my life experience had taught me far more about the dark side of the Force, hate and fear. Harder, because hate and fear do not get along very well with love, and my soul got to live in the middle of their war. Love is not ponies and butterflies and rainbows all the time. Love did not instantly make my life easier.

In many ways, after my initial euphoria, love disappointed me. My disappointment was not good (matter of fact, it was dead wrong), but I did feel it, and it did motivate me. I think, though, I’ll leave that can of worms for my next post.