dot by faithful dot

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I arrived to this space with an apology for not writing.

Except that would not be accurate, I am always writing.

I write in my journal and on random slips of paper,

jotting notes in the margins of books and tapping sentences into my phone.

Words arises from the steam of my shower or the soft indent

in my pillow before succumbing to sleep.

Sometimes my thoughts compose a post while driving to work.

Perhaps I should curb this practice for safety’s sake.

Often I will open a notebook and find scribbles and arrows,

circles and sentences all in CAPS.

As I scan the page, a grin will pass over my face

and at the top of the hieroglyphics I will usually

write “this became the blog post” and fill in the title.

Somehow parts jotted all over the paper

became a map that directed the way to a published post.

My mind has felt like one of those pages of scribbles.

The exception being many of the dots are without

connecting lines.

There are a half-dozen half-written pieces in my

draft folder.

They may or may not ever see the light of a computer

screen other than mine.

For whatever reason, I can’t seem to finish the majority

of my writing.

I can’t figure out what to make for dinner.

There is lonely dirt by the fence where my

sunflowers usually ascend to the sky.

I can’t seem to finish a book. (Ack.)

Although I plan for the drought to end this week.

(I started reading this book on the road last weekend
and it is giving me so much to think about as a parent.)

My mind has been swimming with work,

a daughter graduating from college,

middle school decisions

for our son and a steady stream of bad news.

Somehow the joyous mingled with the sorrow

siphons away anything extraneous.

It has bothered me,

I have fought it and

been frustrated when I can’t concentrate

on a litany of pursuits.

Then I reflect on January, when I chose words

to help guide my year.

Be faithful.

Elisabeth Eliot’s constant encouragement

was to

“Do the next thing.”

Two sentences which will remind me

to breathe and take each aspect of

life one by one and as it comes.

Are your dots connecting?

Do you need to just keep faithfully

walking into the places laid before you?

I will work.

I will celebrate.

I will mourn with those who mourn.

I will listen and not look away.

I will cook.

I will write.

I will read.

Sometimes I will simply just be.

Most of all I will be faithful.

Today it meant pressing publish.

*****

Alright I did read one sweet book awhile ago which could be finished
over a weekend with a bottomless frosted glass of iced tea…
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.
Enjoy.

 

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.