Chase Fireflies


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Feathers, Friends, and Maggots

I woke up at 7 too giddy to pull the covers back over my head. I’m almost embarrassed to say why. Cause I was psyched, like a kid waiting for Christmas, to see birds. Yep, egg-laying vertebrates with wings and beaks:)

The kids and I trekked to the Aviary today. And it was fabulous! We listened to stories, created pieces of art, and fed a 12-toed chicken out of our palms. We went nose to beak with Elvis the penguin, soaked up random bird factage (Rainbow Lorikeets always travel in pairs…hmmm…good principle?), and fed small birds large rocks (well, that was Adden. I caught the little man before we had a tragic bird homicide.)

But the highlight of the day had to have been the maggots. Well, that coupled with Selah’s courage. My shy daughter volunteered of her own accord to feed birds in front of a large audience. This entailed me holding Selah as still as I could, squirmy maggots in our palms, and swooping birds flying in out of nowhere. One winged chap even chose to perch on her hand for a couple of minutes. I think I was probably beaming.

Anyway, if you’re local and you’ve got little tykes, head to the Aviary! The building has some kinda weird configuration going on, you’ll need to camp out with a bagged lunch somewhere (they don’t have seating for that sort of thing), and it’s a bit pricey. (I would suggest scouting around for a coupon. We saved $8.50 that way:)

Besides birds, our day ended with a great dinner and conversation with some new friends (new for me, old for Paul) who happened to be visiting from out of town. We indulged in Primanti’s and walked around Ikea (without spending a dime – even better.) Our kids adored theirs so much that a pink bear was just recently named Lexi.

Incredible day, feathers and all.


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Shame

Shame takes on many forms, doesn’t it?

That memory you just can’t shake
The silent addiction
A vacant left ring finger
Ugly words
Stolen purity
Debt piled high

For me, shame was written all over my body.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve ignored warnings about the sun. I grew up going to the beach every weekend that I could – to read, surf the waves, and soak up the warmth. I life guarded and taught swimming lessons outside for years on end. I tanned to get ready for prom, just like any other high school senior.

And for me it was more than getting a tan. I hated who I was without one. I could barely stand to look in the mirror. In the winter, I was one of those tan out of a cream bottle kinda people. You know, the rusty orange type. And then there were bronzers. I used them too and they were nasty. My face was a summer tan, my neck was a winter white, with a distinct line marking off the seasons. Yuck.

At 34, I’m paying for it all. Biopsies every 6 months, stage 2 melanoma, and umpteen moles lobbed off. I always go in for routine checkups and they find just one more problem spot. Next week I go in for another excision of a precancerous area on my arm. It’s a “hotspot for Melanoma,” as my dermatologist says.

Anyway, I used to get all worked up over all this. Worried that I’m harboring cancer somewhere in my skin, worried that I wouldn’t see my children grow up, worried for my parents’ sake, worried that I wouldn’t get to grow old with my best friend.

I can’t lie and say these are never concerns anymore, but they certainly aren’t keeping me awake at night. The more I know of God, the more I know that He is good, and the more I am learning to accept His goodness – in whatever form He chooses to reveal it.

It’s not ironic to me that I was reading Psalm 73 when my dermatologist called last week. Verse 26 reads, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

“My flesh may fail, ” and that it has. “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

While I was processing the latest results, a fleeting thought almost found residence in my soul. “Your skin tells a story of your shame.” The words were ugly and heartless and cruel. Immediately my eyes welled with tears. Sure there’s shame in that I hated myself and I was desperate for the approval of others and I didn’t know my worth in God. Sure there’s shame in the addiction to outward appearance and the blind acceptance of our culture’s obsession.

But that’s not the story that’s read here. No sooner did I hear words that cut and condemned, I heard another take on those scars. In a quiet voice, God said, “Your skin tells a story of your Savior.”

My scars may have spoken of shame, but not anymore. Now they tell a story of redemption. Of God creating a new life within me that no longer seeks its own. Of God restoring beauty to a girl who couldn’t stand to see her reflection. Of God healing wounds that were far deeper than what the eye could see.

Shame only serves to perpetrate and oppress and annihilate. But Jesus came that we may have life and live that life to the fullest expression.

My scars now tell a story of Jesus. And His is a story worth telling again and again.


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Awakening

Found this poem the other day and fell in love.

i will not die an unlived life.
i will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
i choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
i choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom
goes on as fruit.

~ by dawna markova


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All Things New

Like any Momma, I am crazy about my kiddos. For tons of reasons, but one being that they make me slow down. They help me to see things with their eyes, on their level. And with them, ordinary life is touched with wonder.

Today we saw:

A bird busy stuffing too much brush in her puny little beak.
Perennials poking their heads up through the mushy ground.
Pink buds in mid-sprout coloring the trees.
A dog flying through the air to retrieve a ball. (To which Adden responded with much applause.)

The sun blanketed us with warmth and the coats got ditched real quick. We tricycled and ran and sang and slid in the mud. Adden’s giddy laugh was contagious, as were Selah’s new discoveries of the world in our own backyard. After a long, drab winter, spring is sure welcome round these parts. Not only welcome, but necessary.

Necessary cause I need to see God making all things new again. The visual of spring is dynamic. It’s necessary to know that He creates and He reconciles. He forms beauty again out of the dirt. He takes a skeleton of a tree and colors it with life one more time. “The old has gone, the new has come.” The dead has gone, the life has come.

It’s necessary for me to know that I can be made new. Old habits can change. Patterns of wrong can be made right. Tucked away dreams can be pursued, with the vigor of that dog today retrieving a tennis ball – tail waggin’ delight, sprinting after one target, breathless with anticipation for what lies ahead.

Spring is just around the corner on our calendar. But in Christ, there is always the promise of spring no matter what day of the year; there is hope of new life, yet again.


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Living With No Applause

Love this quote by Henri Nouwen:

“Perhaps we must continually remind ourselves that the first commandment requiring us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind is indeed the first. I wonder if we really believe this. It seems that in fact we live as if we should give as much of our heart, soul, and mind as possible to our fellow human beings, while trying not to forget God. At least we feel that our attention should be divided evenly between God and our neighbor.

But Jesus’ claim is much more radical. He asks for a single-minded commitment to God and God alone. God wants all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul. It is this unconditional and unreserved love for God that leads to the care of our neighbor, not as an activity that distracts us from God or competes with our attention to God, but as an expression of our love for God… We might even say that only in God does our neighbor become a neighbor rather than an infringement upon our autonomy, and that only in and through God does service become possible.”

The jammin thing is that Henri’s life speaks these words. Once a theologian and professor at a prestigious university, Henri gave up honor and accolades to take care of mentally disabled people in a home. He read them stories, bathed them, cut up their food, repositioned them in their chairs, folded their laundry, held their hands, and helped them in the bathroom. These individuals wouldn’t have known they were being served. They may have not even said thank you.

I wonder if the humility of serving kneeled him closer to Jesus. Often I think my vision of service is too limited, too narrow. It’s dishing out lasagna at the homeless shelter, it’s teaching a lesson for children’s church, it’s listening to that girl crying on the other side of the phone line. It’s what other people can see.

Sometimes I forget that serving God is also scrubbing my bathtub, working my tail off at my job when no one is there, and praying on my couch. It’s putting a Tinkerbell band aid on a scratch, it’s clipping coupons and cooking dinner, it’s getting stuck in a slide with my kids. It’s folding endless laundry (and wow do I appreciate my mom more after having kids!), it’s remembering a birthday, it’s holding a hand. It’s what other people can’t always see.

God never marks off our serving to designate what is service and what is not. If I am living in God and for God and through God, then I will live to serve Him, whatever that means. In God, the most mundane tasks and the ordinary routines can carry a weight of significance. No one else may see what we’ve done. There won’t be applause or recognition or even a thank you, but there is still an audience of a breathtaking God, who has been worshipped because we have loved.


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Global Food Crisis

One person in seven goes to bed hungry every day.
One third of the world’s population is malnourished.
There are 25,000 starvation – related deaths every day.

And I complained about the price of cheese Sunday.
Perspective is a powerful thing.

What we can do:
2. Donate here.
4. Blog, facebook, talk to spread the word.
5. Become a Compassion advocate.