tables

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system:

  • an organized set of doctrines, ideas, or principles usually intended to explain the arrangement or working of a systematic whole 
  • an organized or established procedure 
  • harmonious arrangement or pattern

There are systems in place which govern our lives.

We may not be aware of how many established systems ground us.

Many are not of our choosing like the traffic system full of

stop lights and rules of the road.

Others we decide how we would like to arrange our

time and space:

make the bed or don’t,

drink coffee or endeavor to  be caffeine-free,

partake in daily breakfast or obey stomach

pangs by mid-morning,

exercise regularly or not.

These daily tasks are part of a routine, a pattern

which makes up a life system helping to

bring order and rhythm to our moments.

On Saturday Carl and I sat across from one another at our table.

He had showered after his Saturday morning basketball game,

Caleb had bid farewell to a sleepover pal and I slept as long as possible

and made the bed 🙂

We sat with cups of coffee and tea.

I tend to need more stuff and scattered before me were

a Bible, a study, a journal,

a few other books and lots of pens.

Carl had the huge book you see pictured above.

theology: the study of religious faith, practice, and experience;
especially :  the study of God and of God’s relation to the world

We have sat at this table hundreds of times.

We have consumed countless meals but regularly

we have come to this

table to spend time in God’s word,

to be anchored in our faith,

to find guidance,

comfort,

to learn lessons

and to seek truth.

When I snapped this picture, Carl was unaware because

he was immersed.

He was recalling and recounting his theology.

He was allowing himself to sit before God and

gather his system of beliefs at eye level.

Because some days hope seems a farther reach

than a week ago.

A week has passed since Carl’s sister Vickie died

so swiftly and without a whisper of warning.

We sat at the table to recover our systems and cling

to our theology.

The system we have surrendered our lives to is belief

in God,

the Creator,

the Sustainer of life

and the glue who tightly adheres all our crumbling bits.

We have learned to keep our hearts and ears open this week

and discovered abiding comfort.

It’s been found in the “crowd sourcing” of Facebook.

We’ve seen it in the way family and friends love us in their

own special blend of thoughtfulness.

The pages of Scriptures where we landed

these past days have encouraged us that one day Christ will

wipe away every tear and there will be

no more death,

no more caskets,

no more sickness

and no more crying.

(One day.)

We heard words declared from a video describe the

sounds of the cries of death in a hospital.

We remembered.

(God knew.)

Last Sunday we exchanged our church seats for ones in a hospital

but this week we resumed our  pew dwelling  and these were the

first words uttered by our pastor:

“This week, you might be facing a scary time.

It could be the day before a memorial service or a graveside service…”

God knew sitting in pews could never protect us from last Sunday.

But He promised to remain no matter where we sat,

be it a table,

a pew

or even a hospital.

So we rose from our pew

and sidled up to the Table filled with the knowledge that

Jesus bore all our sufferings.

We chew and sip at the Table’s edge because He

is acquainted with sorrow and joins us in our aches

and pains.

Each table has become a place where God hears the

splash of tears upon our cheeks and dispatches

His comfort and often it is through others.

We all have systems.

Whatever system you have in place,

I hope it is effective when life quakes.

I am realizing it is very simple,

there is belief and disbelief and each

is a theology.

Whatever your theology,

I pray it brings comfort

and hope in any season.

This week has shown me when

hard events come we still brush our teeth (good thing),

we make our beds,

we make French toast, steal an extra

piece of bacon, pet the dog and

clean up our messes.

Mostly.

We also hug and kiss a little more.

We say I love you and catch ourselves when

we realize our system has been to rush past

each other in a blur so instead

we stop,

capture one another’s eyes

to affirm our affections

and glory in our mutual comfort.

 

words matter

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On Friday, Caleb had the opportunity to take part in the team competition

at the Oregon State Chess Tournament.

Before each round, once the players assume their position behind

white or black pieces, they allow parents to assume their own positions and

take pictures of their players.

With some coaxing, I was able to get Caleb to display a smile and

as I was snapping his photo

a coach from another team walked up,

looked from me to the two opponents

flanking the chess board and then his gaze returned to me.

While shaking his head he said,
“Oh, that’s going to be a tough one! But it will be alright.”

At first I didn’t process what he said or meant.

It happened so fast.

As he was patting his hand on my shoulder, I realized

what he was suggesting.

By then it was time to take our seats and let the chess play begin.

Thankfully this man’s comments were not heard by Caleb.

I sat in my chair a bit rattled and sent out a quick text message

to family telling them to pray because Caleb was going to have a tough match.

Why did I send up a smoke signal?

I took the words of a stranger who possessed zero knowledge about the match

in question only his assumptions.

I took his words and branded them to my mind, my heart and my son.

I took his words and made them factual.

Guess what?

Caleb won the match.

Of the two rounds he played on Friday,

he said his first match had been the easiest.

The second match, he found himself in trouble.

His opponent had him in check several times.

He recounted how he decided he was going to

turn the game around and he did.

He was patient and believed in himself.

I am not sharing the fact that Caleb won his first match

to prove the man wrong.

Or even to brag.

I share it because I want to illustrate how easily and quickly

stray and unfiltered words can penetrate my mind.

Has this ever happened to you?

I want to have a broader shield over my thoughts and heart.

In fact, I want to be more like Caleb.

As we were driving home from the tournament, I  reluctantly told him

the story of the man and his off-handed remark.

Caleb asked me if I went up to the coach later and told him

he had won.

I said no.

I wanted to tell him off but I didn’t.

He said,

“Mom, you should have told him who I was and

that I am a good chess player.”

He’s right.

Sometimes I forget.

I forget why we named him Caleb.

Caleb means faithful.

We named him Caleb because of  the Caleb in the Bible.

Caleb was one of a group of spies tasked to survey the land promised to

Israel.

The majority of the spies returned with reports of being terrified

because ‘there were giants in the land.”

But Caleb and Joshua believed God was giving them the land

no matter the obstacles placed before their eyes.

We wanted our Caleb to believe His God could

accomplish big things.

I shouldn’t be surprised that he believes big.

He has been faithful to work hard in chess and has

set goals for himself each year.

His faithfulness (and the faithfulness of his coach Richard) are

the reason he was able to stare down an opponent without fear.

Words matter.

The words we say.

The words we hear.

Let’s make it our aim to say words which bring

courage and don’t discourage.

Let’s determine today when we hear a word designed

to defeat, instead we will remember who we are and not

how someone desires to define us.

Otherwise we will always find ourselves in checkmate.

Remember who you are.