Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: photos (page 1 of 11)

This Much

Sometimes it’s the things I’ve known longest, the things most taken for granted, that break me widest open…

Like there, opening arms as if to a long-lost friend, pausing with abandon-joy to savor the song that is the sea– the crashing sound of surf, the salt on the breeze, the endless blue.

His words come out of nowhere, His tone utterly casual. But His eyes twinkle.

So, you know how much I love you?

No, how much?

This much.

Standing on the edge of this expanse as endless the circumference of a circle, my heart gives way, before a truth I already know.
He loves me, this much.

And the salt in my eyes then doesn’t come from the sea.
Or does it?

All Is Enough [in Ninety-Six Words.]

Out of the blackness of night, and the wonder of the morning, this thought–
All of human fullness is emptiness. Still, we have the audacity of inviting God in, to inhabit some corner. Or even three corners.
The Holy God is far too great, far too deep, far too beautiful to fit in the corner.
Holy God looms too large to fit in all eight corners of three-dimensional infinity
But then this miracle. When suddenly no space in my small heart is reserved unto myself; reserved for my use…
It is enough. 
All becomes enough.

Notification Center, and the 5 Questions [Do I Love Jesus More?]

I figure my phone deserves to rest at night. So, unless I’m “on call” for someone, it slips into airplane mode at or around 2100.

Unremarkable practice.
Albeit, the implications of this simple habit have recently opened my eyes to a stubborn and surprising reality, and caused me to be confronted with this question I’m now passing along.

– – –

There are a good many factors that go into making a day great. And also a fair few that can ruin a good start. I’ve found one of them. It’s those first 60 seconds after the alarm sings…

I reach for my phone; sigh all content. Blink, blink, blink away the last of sleep. (I was only half sleeping.) A swipe of the phone sweeps Waves into memory, until tomorrow this time. Another swipe and the little machine reaches out to the invisible, to start downloading the day.

Do I?

If I’m brave, my feet are on the floor before it starts to buzz. Notification Center all alight. I have friends on every inhabited continent, so in my world it’s always day somewhere. Maybe they liked my last photo on Instagram?

That right there is where it starts. I can predict with almost unerring accuracy the sense and sensitivity at my disposal in the day to follow. By who I check in with first.

It’s such a little thing. 
Yes. But these little things are pledges of allegiance, of which we’re sometimes quite unaware.

And anyway, don’t knock little things.
(Bullets are little things.)

– – –

The 5 Questions. (Time for a self-test.)

1. At the start of the day, which comes first: Facebook Notifications, or an hour of Scripture? 

2. At the breakfast table, does the prayer come from a heart actually full of gratitude, or does it sound suspiciously like yesterday’s?  

3. At school, which drives harder: Desire for grades, or desire for God? 

4. At home, which seems sweeter: An hour of entertainment, or an hour of intercession?  

5. In bed, which lingers longer: The frolic of the day, or thoughts of heaven?

– – –

I’ve learned a day is worth too much to lose, by reefing through notifications before I’ve read my Bible. And not because my notifications are my enemy. Because at the end of the day, my priorities are making a statement to myself. 

So, I won’t anymore. And I’ve found, I no longer care to. I’d rather meet God first, declare to Him and to myself that in Him is my greatest pleasure; would rather let the whole world wait, make notifications come and stand in a line at attention for an hour, while I take my time.

Oh, and it’s not that I don’t care. If you sent me a text at 0200 this morning, I can’t wait to read it.

I still love Jesus more.

Australia in Retrospect [This is My Confidence]

The highest heights are often to be found in the least expected places…
Least expected, that is, to a world quantifying success with finite formulas.

I’ve been to the heights. And not standing on a stage before thousands. Nor on some glittering crest of conquest. (As high as those honors are…)

One thing is always the same. I’m always shorter on the highest heights… By the distance of heel to knee.

PC: James Tregenza doanddare.org

This time, it was on a dusty bit of ground surrounded by benches, throbbing hearts, deep attention.
I have never climbed higher. Never seen the world wider than I saw it then. Never looked smaller in my own eyes. Never felt closer to Heaven.

No surprise.

To those who have found eyes for higher glory, though the beauty of the high places always surpasses our dreams, it is never entirely unexpected…

“As long as I live, I will remember his words– 

‘…Mostly, I’ve met God properly.’

That broke me wide open As though standing on holiest ground, I was filled with a smallness; a trembling… How is it that I am even allowed to touch what is this holy?“*

Though every memory fades at least a bit eventually, my wonder will never cease.
Nor will love for new friends with a beautiful foreign accent.
Nor will firm faith that we’ll meet again, if not on this round earth, then inside pearly gates.

“Hey– remember when…?”

Yes, I remember.

morning stars: checkout | PC: Jasmine Tregenza

Before it was over I had the opportunity to try to crunch the essence of 40 pages of worship notes and days and days of prayer and pondering onto 5 minutes of film. 

This is my confidence.

morning and miracle bend
later: snowy mountain living
friends in Victoria

*journal entry, January 20, 2014

Christmas in the Family

We watch the world go by at speed limit, all in two rows, shoulder to shoulder as if we were connected there. Because we are connected there. And hearts glow like the stars outside, and mouths move and out comes one joy, then another.

Youngest sister dodges sleep; little head leaning light, little hand on my arm. Pretty as the ice-coated night. The rest discuss the favored Soprano during Messiah, (the first one in red, please) the old Tenor who stoops more than he did last year– and we hope he has many more years in the Methodist choir. (He, our general favorite.) 
We giggle re-dwelling the funniest antics on the rink, discuss the performance of the less experienced (stellar), decide whether or not to spend the balance of the evening making bagels in the classic country kitchen warm as summer. That is, if the power is actually on at home…
We stop where the wires are down across the road, turn around to find another way home. Shout “Thank YOU” out open car window to the utility men who’ll be here wrangling icy copper until daybreak and beyond.
And once again, the holy joy that makes a day a holiday is wound around this beautiful gift, family. 

We don’t deserve it. Them. But here we are, loved, loving…
– – –
And right into the middle of this warm-heartedness this word sinks like a cold dagger– 
And not that He was… (He was.)

But that He did.

That He walked away from the adoring, from everything and everyone familiar… That He left companionship. That comfy spot between beloved shoulders… The little hand on His arm, the little head, the perfect sleepy face, the warm chatter, the laughter at the end of an unblemished day, He left it. 
He told them to scoot in to fill the gap, to be the pillow He’d been. Stood up and walked to the gate, swung it open, waited for the click, walked way into the universe to spend His first Christmas all alone.
So we could have Christmas at all.

This I Can Do

Meander is a good word.
I’ve gone to answer a silent call unmistakable. Over two fences and down a sandy draw.
Wherever my gaze wanders, my feet follow. From rock to creek to giant anthill and back.
These are the best hours of the day, and they belong to God…

But you know, it is most often in the very cradle of these moments, –these hours that slip away into eternity leaving behind them a quiet deep and peace so sweet– it is in these selfsame that I experience the worst agitations, and the deepest discontent.

Because on the heels of every happiness comes the agony that is the reality of another’s pain.
Someone said love and pain go together. How right they were.

Every time I taste the sweeter sweet, I suddenly start up, all taken by this wild desire to distribute.
And that wouldn’t be so bad, if every starving soul would actually take it!!

Maybe that’s why I pace. From creek to anthill and back.
From joy to yearning and back.

Finally, this:

The very best you can do to bring the beautiful hungry to realize the fullness of joy that is in Christ,
is to be constantly realizing that joy yourself. 

You seek. They’ll find. 

Believe the Impossible?

“Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations. . . He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.”* 

See, that’s the essence of triumphant faith to me. And the reason why Abraham received the impossible.

Because he believed the impossible. 
Hope against hope.

You’ve heard perhaps that “God will be everything we let Him be…”?

Maybe God can’t work what’s impossible, because I only believe what’s reasonable.

*see Romans 4

Triumph [Like a Pearl]

It is the triumph of the Christian faith that it enables its followers to suffer and be strong…

To maintain a grip of steel, then willingly give.
To love, and lose, and dare to love again.
To believe in promises while relinquishing the right to personal claims.
To accept tears as glittering gifts.

To believe that I am perfectly loved, even when suffered to drink anguish.
To perfectly love what (Who) I don’t understand.

It is triumph.
To suffer softly. To remember that His feet are washed best with tears. To remember He has never once made a mistake. To remember there is a reason I am trusted with every sorrow.
To remember His name is made great when His children love Him anyway.

–  –  –

Now it’s my turn. My turn to stand in the bottom of the grave and help tuck in the treasure. Me thinking this is the worst kind of personal loss– watching some of “my people” lose something beloved. We work in silence. Wind blows and dust flies, and just like her name, around a speck of a thought layer after layer of luster is laid, while I contemplate Love.

I remember the last group ride; remember my turn on the brilliant beast while the trusted friend worked a kink out of her older sister. They’re both gone now, the Diamond and the Pearl, sister jewels black as stellar space.

Like a little boy about Christmas time my mind scratches at the cold blast of circumstances has build on the windows– the windows of my heart. The boy might be wondering the price of the Christmas Lionel caboose. I’m looking for the same thing I always look for first. Searching for where love might be hiding its best, right about now.

Silent and strong as always, friend-more-like-brother works on the other side of the cavernous hole, till the job is done.
Our girls, out little sisters; they’ve lost their friends, also sisters. (is that what makes us family?)

Later, after thoughts and words and prayers and tears have finished their work for the day, what is left is a lesson worthy of the gift through which it came.

But of course; Faith doesn’t mean that if I believe hard enough, pray hard enough, I’ll love the outcome.

 Faith is believing I’m loved, regardless of the outcome.

Thanks girls. For all kinds of beautiful memories, and for standing up tall and graceful.
And trusting Merciful God. Again.
And thanks friend, for letting me love her too.

My Everything

Stars swim outside windows high. Like pinpoints of light on ripples of water. Through water?

He hangs up the phone. We know what it means already.
Nobody calls at 0200 for no reason. And seldom for a happy one.

Anyway, what follows prayers in the dark are these words burning like fire.
The reason I love anyway–

“Every beautiful thing you have ever been given to love has been given first for this purpose: 
That when the hour of sacrifice is come, you might have something to put on the altar.”

I see in my mind’s eye the young faces of the friends to whom I gave those very words months ago; feel this resolve of mine to love turning to steel again.

“What we do, we do for Christ. Only Christ.
And for Him, we give away our everything.
Because He is everything.”

A Gift Called “Together”

We heave and breathe and pour sweat, and bump fists.
And we chant audacity (in the form of “oh yes you can!”) and mouth corners upturn under flaming cheeks. And we cut another minute off the mile, add another mile to the course.

We flop down in green grass and laugh.

And I realize that what I once said would never be, is.
What I always said I’d do only for the sake of relentlessness, I do now for the love of the doing…

That changes everything, you know?

I soak up blue sky and run fingers through grass while we stretch; listen to the student of strides give us the latest science; quip that we need a team dietician.

And running isn’t anything like it used to be.
It used to be heart-pounding, step-sounding solitude where the only one there to believe I could was myself.

But it isn’t the love or the running that strikes me so deep.

It’s that together word.
That’s the gift.

Apart, some are fast, some are slow.
Others never try. Never know what they’re made of.

Oh, and don’t get me wrong. There’s a place for solitude. I was born a loner, after all…

But I’ve been given a gift I hope to spend the rest of my life passing on to people around me who’ve never tried. Or who’ve quit believing.

And I dare you to do the same.
To be the same.

To the lonely soul; To the trembling child; To the one who wants, but is afraid to dare; To the one who would, if one soul would care–

I want to be together.

Because together, everyone gets stronger.

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