Within Reach

My parents' swing... where I grew up

My parents’ swing on the screened-in porch… where I grew up

It happened in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

My friend said it happened to her when she visited the beach after a long absence.

I was expecting it to happen at the beach too. But for me, it was when I stepped out of the Wal-Mart in my hometown.

All of a sudden it hit me, that heavy pounding and wave of nostalgia. And the tears came.

The combination of the soft night, the gentle winds, the mild weather, the early evening dark blue sky– and the people. It wasn’t about the people around me, as I listened to the hum of folks in the parking lot, but because of the people at home.

How can I ever know if this is the last time I’d be seeing my parents? One of them or both of them? How do any of us know, for that matter?

We don’t.

As they stood at the edge of the driveway and waved goodbye, I knew there was sadness behind the smiles– mine and theirs. I live 850 miles away.

Yes, it is true we live far apart. But are we out of reach? No, we are not.

Yes, it is true that we’re far from perfect.  But are we out of Jesus’ reach? Absolutely not.

It is true we fail and make mistakes. It is true we fail and fail again. It is true that we need to ask forgiveness and grace, again and again and again.  It is true that dysfunctions follow us and we perpetuate them.

But are we, any of us, out of reach of healing and Jesus’ grace? Absolutely not.

Is it too late? It is never, never too late. It is never too late, and we are never too far from Jesus’ reach.

I collected myself,  turned on the car and drove back home. I was home, if only for a couple of days, and they were there, within reach. And I didn’t want to take that for granted.

And if you are fortunate enough to have loved ones within your reach, hug them.

***

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday prompt “Reach”. Click here to read more. 

 

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A Letter to My Younger Self

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Well, here you are, younger me. Look at you. I wish I still had your younger skin.

You will graduate high school, then college, then get married, get a job, have some kids… a basic sort of plan for most folks. Life holds some very pleasant things in your future.

But if you look underneath the surface, you will discover something. Your life ahead is not going to go as you planned or imagined. Now, don’t get scared. It’s just that some surprises loom ahead that you cannot, or did not, foresee. No, they will not be enjoyable. You will be hurt. You will cry in your pillow. You will cry out to God. You will walk through some dark places. At times, you will think you are the only one in the world going through that particular hardship.

Remember this: you are feeling what all other human beings, created in the image of God, experience: pain, loneliness, suffering, loss, anguish, confusion, frustration, grief.

Remember this: you are not alone.

You will not be able to avoid some of these difficult times ahead. But, I want to tell you something that is going to help you. See those bumps in the road ahead? They are Jesus’ hands. He is holding you through them all. Don’t neglect to see His hands. Those hands are bruised and pierced, because He wanted to carry that burden for you. You drew closer to Him through those challenges.

Go to those older and wiser than you, and ask for advice. Tell them your situation, your dilemma, your problem, your question—whatever it may be. Talk to more than one person; talk to several. Don’t rely on your own wisdom. Don’t live on an island. You need other people around you.

Pray over it. Pray, pray, pray.

Then, pray some more.

Nobody ever said they prayed too much. So go ahead – make it your goal to try and pray too much.

Don’t hide from the truth, no matter how difficult it might be. Make sure you know the difference between safe and unsafe people. Don’t let unsafe people run over you. But don’t let safe people get away, either.

Be deliberate about making friendships work. They take time, effort, and heaps of grace. Be able to give relationships all three.

And another thing. This is really important.

You see, the thing I want to tell you, younger me, is to take risks. It’s not about the things you did. It’s about the things you didn’t do.

What fears hold you back? What busyness prevents you? What makes you say no every single time? Your life will be haunted by the specters of what you didn’t do rather than the things you did. So, go out and do them.

You are going to learn some things about God and what He thinks specifically about you and your life. I don’t want to tell you everything right now, but suffice it to say, you’re going to want to hear every single word.

This life is a gift. You aren’t going to like this cliché — but it goes by faster than you can blink.

Now go. Go and live your life. Give it the best you’ve got.

***

What would you tell YOUR younger self? I’d love to hear- please share in the comments below.

This letter was written for The High Calling prompt: “A Letter to My Younger Self”. Click here to read other letters, or to submit your own. 

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Tell

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Only one more year is left.

One more year. I have your lifetime of memories stored away, and you have your own memories of the past years until now, and we share many of those same memories. If I could go back through the years, I know what I would do and say differently. It’s not that there is guilt or regret — though I have indeed made mistakes — but a longing for more time. The years do fly by.

So with this year that is left, the next twelve months, I am resolved to fill in the cracks: the words not spoken, the many words not spoken. The many things I have left to say to you.

Nothing else is as important—outside duties can wait. Other noises, other requests, will surely beckon for attention.

It is bittersweet. I am genuinely excited and happy for this phase. It is what diligent parents plan for: the launching of their children. I eagerly anticipate what the future holds. But I will miss you. And all the words that you have spoken, the words that you will be saying, the memories that will become a part of you that I will have no knowledge of. It is fine; it is the way it is meant to be, and it is good.

But until then, I hope to tell you all that I have not yet told you, all that I need to tell you, words that have yet been unspoken.

***

This post was written for the Five Minute Friday prompt, for the word “Tell”. The rules can be found here. Click here to read more or to add your own five minute writing piece. 
***

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Fried Green Tomato Heart

Fried Green Tomato Heart

The outside, crispy, fried, like onion ring
The inside, tangy meat and juicy sweet
Dinner fare of southern peasant and king
All, at dignity’s table, dine and meet
Cloth-covered picnic tables, drink wine, sing
Raise arms, clink cups, spin tales, laugh deep, tap feet.
Under shady pines–it’s where they taste best
In picnic summers, delectable fest.

Those southern fried-grown, they’re all taught to know
From Alabama’s deep innermost heart
Is from whence this secret knowledge doth flow
Where humble green debuted, made its first start
A secret kept, prepared, wins best of show,
Tethered to land, may she never depart.
If stolen, then summoned, she’s called back home
And guarded, protected– subject of poem.

Now if it’s the homegrown should try to leave
‘Twill be summoned back to her native land,
Won’t make it past Kentucky, rolling green –
Where she’ll be stopped– nowhere else loved as grand,
Cause in Alabama, she’s truly free.
The Appalachians themselves lend a hand,
They move aside, divide, letting her pass
Till she nestles down; sweet Bama, alas.

And the Alabama folks, they all know
To leave a spot empty on dinner plate
For the humble and proud green tomato
To settle down, and live, beside her mate
Fried green tomato hearts really can’t go
It is their destiny, ultimate fate
To reside beside where they’re meant to be–
Smack dab between ribs and sweetened iced tea.

***

This poem was written for the Tweetspeak Poetry prompt calling for sonnets. Actually the above is not really a sonnet, but rather closer to an “ottava rima”. Hope that’s ok. I had fun with the subject matter. 
And  a bit of trivia I learned: fried green tomatoes are thought to have originated in the Northeast and Midwest, and among the Jewish community! Pretty cool, huh. I always thought it was a southern invention, but according to what I’ve read, that is probably unlikely.  Anyway, if you have a chance to try a southern fried green tomato — go for it. It is surprisingly delicious. 
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Unclaimed

 

Unclaimed

Dreadful when green waters
Expel their contents, spewing
Onto fields nearby,
Curled in fetal position–
Failure
Forsaken in passionate youth,
Or anytime–
Untidy.
The sun shone
It always does–
Illuminating innocent faces
Waiting in some corner
At the edges of the day
Begging to be noticed
While the rest search calmly online.
Why can’t they fly.

***

This poem was written using W.H. Auden’s poem “Musée des Beaux Arts” to create a “found poem”  at www.tweetspeakpoetry.com. Click here  to read other submissions or to submit one of your own.
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Filled With What?

Iraqi child in refugee camp.  Photo credit: unicefiran, Flickr Creative Commons

Iraqi child in refugee camp.
Photo credit: unicefiran, Flickr Creative Commons

 

I read about it in the news. You have, too. The places where chaos and confusion and persecution have erupted.

I am thinking of our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, and how an extremist faction has taken over and is filling the people with fear.

One day, you are living; the next day, you might die. Just because of what you believe.

Young children who were once full of hope— their lives remain uncertain now.

They stand on top of a hill, surrounded by a menace equivalent to anyone’s worst nightmare, filled with trepidation.  What will become of them? A valley’s fields are filling with the blood of those who are dying.

Where love reigns, so does freedom. Where tyranny reigns, fear runs rampant.

And the scariest thing of all, is that I recognize it in my own heart. Hatred. It starts with me. It starts with one heart. One person, one neighbor, one word, one grudge, one remark, one action that multiplies and hatred spreads. My own heart is capable of that. I can be quite full of it, too.

Each one of us has a decision to make.

It starts with us. It starts with me. There is a cure for hatred. Change like this can’t be fulfilled by any political ideology, government, social agenda, or cultural shift. Change like this can’t happen simply by taking away guns, weapons, or extremist propaganda. No, because you see, we still have our original hearts.

This kind of radical change? It starts with the emptying of one’s heart, so that Jesus can fill it with himself.

Full of myself? Full of the world? Look at the news and we can see where that gets us.

Full of Jesus? That’s what I want. That’s what we need.

***

This post was written for the Five Minute Friday prompt, “Fill”; and so happy to join Kate Motaung in her first week taking over the FMF community. My mind can’t process much else with the current horrifying news– not that it’s been any different in the ages; evil has been with us, as well as these atrocities. To read more stories written for the prompt “Fill”, or to submit your own, click here. And pray for those in need. 

 

Posted in Fear, Five Minute Friday, Hope, Jesus, Life, Persecution | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Casting

 

Casting

Watching waves crest and sink
Surfing down summer’s summit
They cast time-worn nets
Catch fleeting dreams before they slip and enfold
into deep waters–
Before they meld into sandy shore
Pulling out enough for the current day
They sift through the granular bucket-list
Of final plans
Before gasping for air.

***

This post was written for the Tweetspeak Poetry prompt using “fishing” as a metaphor for life. You can click here to read more or to submit your own.

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