The Night Heron

grey heron reflection on body of water

Photo by Leigh Jeffreys

She said what she first noticed was that images were spinning around her frontal lobe like those old 1950 children’s lamp shade night lights. As the lamp would spin around different nursery rhyme stories would glow in the dark. This is what she noticed first.

These scenes of life from childhood to ancient-hood would spin in her mind but then she would immediately forget what she saw. She said it was tremendously frightening at first.

She said with in a few months the the children started coming more often. Telling her what she should do more often. She just smiled and ignored them and worked in her garden. She managed dozens and dozens of tulips and daffodils around her large home built with field stones.  A beautiful home that once was in a country meadow but with human progress was now in the middle of a large city neighborhood. She said she loved to prune the bulbs and separate them each year. She used her little garden mat for her creaky knees and wore the hat which was her Mother’s. She said her Mother bought the hat in China where her family were missionaries until the Communist kicked them all out of the country.  The hat was perfect for long days in the Texas summer and was constructed so well that it looked as good as new instead of forty years old.

I would drive by her house every day on my way to work or to the market and everyday she could be found in her garden. I often stopped to chat.

One day we were talking and she said, “you know children can never know their parents young. That is why it is so hard for them to understand them as adults. They have never seen me run a relay race like a gazelle or fight with my sister. They have never seen me with skinned knees and pigtails. They surely cannot picture me as a lovely teenage girl going on her first date much less enjoying a healthy sex life at least until they were born! I also think they have forgotten that their Father always brought me tulips and daffodils our wholes lives together.”

As fall approached I would see her out there tending the bulb garden with her head bent over and her knees on her mat. It gave me a sense of comfort I think.  Then, of course, that inevitable day came when I did not see her for a week or so but had been too busy to stop by. The next week I saw a for sale sign in the front yard and stopped.

I was surprised when a nurse aid let me in and I knew this must be a bad sign but she was actually looking quite spry. I noticed when she stood up that her back was a tiny bit bent like trees whey they finally wear the shape of the wind. We sat together in some worn but comfortable chintz chairs by the front window. The gray-blue light of winter slanted through the stillness. She said, “Death’s cruel pluck is coming.” She was right.

By spring she was gone. By summer the children sold her house and the lot behind it. The new construction destroyed every single tulip and daffodil. All the lot taken up by a McMansion. They didn’t tear down the beautiful stone house but to me tearing up the garden was the cruelest act. I wonder if the children had no idea what it meant to her. I wondered why they did not see the hours she labored and loved in that garden. I wondered a lot of things.

The last time I saw her she talked about how the night Heron with it’s silver soft plumage was the most beautiful in all the marsh. She said she that the Heron had been visiting her each evening in the shadows of dusk. She said she was stuck in a memory of growing up on the Bayou of Houston and couldn’t remember a lot of things about being an adult.  The last thing she said to me with a gentle smile on her face was, ” thanks for coming to visit me Mama. I will see you soon for good.”  I just smiled and told her goodbye and thanked her for the beautiful tulip and daffodil garden.  She waved and I was gone. She was gone too.

Every time I drive by the property I go through a run of emotion from anger at her children for what seems carelessness to realizing I am not their judge. I feel sad that the beautiful tulips and daffodils no longer dance there in the breeze. I remember her smile and think of the Night Heron. I picture her in heaven with her Chinese hat on bent down on her knees with her mat working in God’s garden.

You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of the aged, and you shall revere your God. Leviticus 19-32

 

Reckless Endangerment

photo of child reading holy bible

Photo by nappy

 

Reckless Endangerment is a law that states “wrongly recklessness of wanton conduct that is likely to produce grievous harm or death to another person.”

I read an article recently that a young lady is being charged with Reckless Endangerment because she pushed another girl off of a sixty foot bridge and caused her to be severely injured. According to the article Reckless Endangerment is a misdemeanor which carries a monetary fine and possible time in prison. I do not believe the one who pushed the other intended injury, nevertheless she did cause injury.

What stayed with me the next few days was the sobering thought that as a follower of Jesus Christ I must be diligent in my words and deeds as His Ambassador. I fear any Christian’s speaking “out of context” or just plain “lie or twist the truth”  may do so at our own peril. There are many false teachers that I am aware of today because of social media. I am also sobered at the words of Jesus himself when he says that it “would be better for a millstone to be around your neck and you drown than to lead any of these astray.”   

Jesus warns those who are Shepherds of his people (and religious leaders)  strongly about misleading others in any way away from the simple truth that “those that believe on His name and that he is the Son of God shall be saved.”  We cannot add to Jesus or take away from Jesus. John the Baptist preached the simple act of repentance and humbling ourselves to the One whose sandals he was unworthy to tie…

However, there are those called by God to shepherd and lead and teach in the context of the Body of Christ.  I  believe there is  accountability like no other if or when we speak for or of God wether we speak in large groups or just to a spouse or our children.  I am reminded that Jesus said in a field of healthy wheat there is also growing weeds that look just like the wheat  in the same field and when the harvest is brought into the threshing floor the fake wheat would be separated from the real wheat and destroyed by fire.

Over fifteen million women follow other women speakers, Bible teachers, and preachers on social media…this tells me two things. One is perhaps these women’s spiritual study needs are not being met in the local church and secondly, how do they know who to follow or does that matter?  It is reckless endangerment, in my opinion, to teach that gay marriage is a holy ordinance of God. It is also reckless endangerment to let a man who has sexually molested  children and/or women be leading anyone. Another reckless teaching is that if you are ill and God does not heal you then you must have sin in your life! (Hello Job’s best friends), and one of my old favorites, which a young woman actually told me this week, she was told that if she doesn’t have sex with her husband every single time he wants to she is sinning against God. Reckless endangerment!

I think about this in my own life and take a posture of being down on my face before Holy God and somehow relaying to anyone any Word of God incorrectly. I tremble at the thought.

That is what concerns me as a teacher, mentor, writer, Mom, Grandmother, and wife. If I am expounding to anyone on God’s Word I am not playing a game and teaching little cute sayings or formulas.

The wonderful Reverend Billy Graham and my amazing Grandfather, Dr. C. E. Autrey, always said this about their preaching.  They never made a statement in a sermon that could not be prefaced by these three words, “The Bible says…”

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.  2 Peter

Tin Roof Rain

selective focus photo of obalte green leafed plants during rain

Photo by Bibhukalyan Acharya  

The sound of a tin roof rain in the spring makes me smile

I would sit under it and write in my diary as a child

 

The waves lapping the shore in the hot summer days

I would lazily lay beside them as the Texas sun would blaze

 

The symphony of the marching band in fall

The smell of bonfires as Autumn breezes call

 

Sleigh bells ringing and the laughter in our home

I would soak in all the love my heart can hold

 

I have grown older now yet those sounds are still sweet

Now my grandchildren’s laughter bring a new heart beat

All of these sounds are the symphony of rest

And of all of the sounds I love stillness best

 

For it is in stillness that I hear all the other sweet sounds

Where the music of my life ebbs and flows around

In the stillness is where I hear the voice of God say all is well

and I thank Him for the music of my life

 

 

 

 

The Feast of The Fowl

I saw the angel standing in the sun and he cried out so all heaven and earth and under the earth could hear, saying…Come all you fowl in the heavens to the feast of the Great King and eat upon the flesh of captains and kings of this world!”   Revelation 19

flock of birds

Photo by Alex Fu 

 

All who hear open your hearts and eyes!

Not out of fear or dogma but for His name’s sake

He will execute perfect love and mercy!

They who think they are wise but are enemies of The One

who is Holy and Faithful and True be aware!

His name is Faithful and True

His name is The Word of God

The King of Kings is His name

His eyes burn  with the white flame of justice

Many crowns are upon his head

He  will judge those who hate him still!

The sword of His word will judge in perfect righteousness

 All the fowl of the earth

will feast on their flesh on that day!

 

I like stillness best…

turned on grey table lamp

Photo by Dorran

 

It is the end of the day and evening twilight has gone. It is that time when quiet lay like a mantle of fresh snow over my world. It is that moment when I seek rest for my mind and soul and prayers of thanks for this day are said. Of all the wonder this life brings as I grow older I have come to love “Stillness” best. Stillness when I rock my grandson to sleep or one of them tells me in child like whispers of faith an imaginary story or how they see the world. Stillness when my husband lay beside me and we read our books and hold hands. Stillness where I collect my thoughts, my dreams, my joy, and my sadness and I string them like beautiful pearls and give them back to God. In stillness I feel His peace and protection over my daughters and their families and dear loved ones in my life. Stillness where I let grief and hope arise together like an entwined tapestry and lay them at the feet of Jesus, the One in whom I put all my trust. Yes, I believe it is fair to say that in getting older of all the wonderful sounds of life I have begun to love “stillness” best.

Southern Comfort Nights

full-moon-moon-night-sky-53153.jpeg

June bugs buzzing round the front porch light

hot sweet humidity on a southern comfort night…

Smell of sweet drugstore perfume

just waiting for a boy to notice or amuse

So innocent was the Muse…

Texas summer nights not far from big city lights

all the stars in her eyes on sweet southern comfort nights

 

An artist and a poet

beach candle candlelight close up

Photo by Pixabay

I don’t know what you found after our childhood

Did love transform your dreams or did you have to choose?

 

Do we really know between the longing and the real?

I think of you often and am warmed by your gentle smile.

 

I hope you found a girl and some laughter.

A place to warm your heart through dark cold disaster.

 

Life is but a song we sing to touch others

An artist and a poet, a sister and a brother, a moment in the sun together

Lover’s Curtains

photo of beaded accessories

Photo by Artem Bali

It doesn’t really matter when

I pull back the curtains and see you again

It will be two-sided loving

like it’s always been

Come on in my lover and friend

 

There is a wonderful wildness in a true loves heart

once it starts the rhythm won’t stop

do you feel it baby,

do you still feel it too

When I pull back the curtains and come visit you?

 

 

“You cannot find the way of the Cross. Jesus must lead you there…” Martin Luther

mountains nature arrow guide

Photo by Jens Johnsson

Oswald Chambers says “The Cross of Jesus Christ was the greatest and most profound collision of God and Sin”. In my sixty-three years of life I am still often astounded how I cannot grasp all that The Cross of Jesus means to those who choose to follow him. For you see it is a choice. Jesus never pushes himself on people because He knows that to be his follower there will be a cost.

In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Meditations on The Cross, I found myself pierced in the heart at my lack of true discipleship. Oh, make no mistake I am a born again child of God, regenerated and adopted into the family of God through Jesus’ blood shed for me however, having knowledge of that and thoughts and plans of my own on how that should go and how that should look I am learning to abandon.

In Bonhoeffer’s book he quotes Martin Luther and this quote absolutely “gutted” my spirit and has also transformed my idea of what following and obeying Christ means…I really don’t have the words to express what I have realized.

The Martin Luther quote, “things must happen not according to your own knowledge but rather immerse yourself in the abandonment of understanding and Jesus will give you true understanding. You cannot find the way of the cross. Jesus must lead you there like a blind person. Not the work you chose for yourself, not the sufferings you think up for yourself, but what comes to you contrary to your choosing, thinking, desiring, that is where you must follow, there He is calling. There you are the pupil, there is where your teacher, your Savior has come and is found.”

“So, this Great Collision between God and Sin, this collision absorbed by the heart of God is what the Cross of Jesus is. The world shook, the foundation of hell and death were defeated forever.”  Oswald Chambers

 

What the Cross is NOT is an act of martyrdom, in the sense that there is no “defeat” on Jesus’ cross. Only victory with the greatest price paid that eternity past, present, and future has ever known. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the questions of both. Nor is the Cross of Jesus something that “happened” to Jesus. He came for this exact purpose when he made His covenant between the three persons of the Godhead to become flesh and dwell among us.

Oswald Chambers says, “The Cross of Jesus is not “a” gift from God rather it is THE Gift from God! The Cross of Jesus is the literal act of God’s Holy judgment on Sin.”  Most Christians are familiar with these words but I tell you when I pondered on Martin Luther’s quote above regarding Jesus leading me like a blind person to His Cross, bearing my own cross of sin, selfishness, and vain knowledge I was undone!

In an ongoing study but now a  conclusion to this small putting together of words that cannot satisfy what I am trying to say,  The Cross is not the horrible end of a pious life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ. Every call of Christ leads to death of self with the promise of eternal life in Him. You cannot know the way of the cross. I cannot make myself a disciple of Christ with my own knowledge, my own pursuits. It is only in following Jesus to His Cross that we will know the “Power of His resurrection” and eternal life. Lift up the mighty shield of faith for there are battles daily in this world but Jesus the God/man Redeemer of all is leading the way!

 

Oh what a Collision of God and Sin, my sin happened on the Cross of Jesus. The Cross of God. Oh my soul rejoice for the Joy of my Salvation has been restored!

 

(Credit to Oswald Chambers and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, and the Holy Bible.)

 

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