Untamed

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The lake is a beautiful place, but wild. So wild, I asked Kyle, just the two of us working together, cutting down Prickly Ash, searching out patches of Poison Ivy – I asked him, “Do you feel like a pioneer?” He nodded. Yes. This land of ours untamed. Later we’re building fires to burn the rubble, one up top, the other down toward the lakeshore. “Are you sure this is safe?” I asked the question moments before the wind picked up and I’m using his baseball cap as a futile bucket to manage the flames.

Maple runs up the path and back down in a fraction of the time it takes her middle-aged guardians on multiple trips. And I’m trying not to think about Grammy, and how will we ever get her down this mountain to enjoy the water? That dog of ours is all kinds of joyful mangy. Wet from swimming, black from cutting a path through the ashes of a burned out fire. It’s a holiday weekend, and Grant and Nils join us, and Nils’ muscly friend, strategically recruited. There’s a boatlift and dock sitting shore-side, and we’ll need some brawn if we’re to have any fun.

Later Grant and Kyle are up the hill taking advantage of a neighbor’s outlet for blowing up tubes, the rest of us taking a breather in the boat on the lift. Maple’s back and forth and next thing we know she’s swam out too far, energy spent from a day of frenzied frolic. We try to lure her into the boat, but she’s tuckered out, so Nils jumps in to give her rescue. And it’s not until he’s saved the dog, and waded to shore for the basket of towels, he discerns his error. iPhone zipped into a pocket of borrowed swim shorts, and Oh, that’s no good. I hear him say it more than once.

The boys are tubing and I’m consoling my left-out pup, when I fetch my own cell-phone from the pick-up truck where it’s been safe and dry since our morning arrival. There’s a text from my mom, an update on a week-long story, no good either. My baby brother and his heartbreaking drama, and I call my mom, but I have no words. God can do things we’re not expecting, and we’re all of us asking for a miracle of supernatural proportions. A man and his wife and precious baby, broken.

Sunday morning I sit on my porch swing enjoying so much peace and quiet. There’s something to be said about a house built and a yard tamed, and I wonder if it’ll ever be like this out on there on Green Lake. I pray for my family, start with my brother. My mom and my dad. So many years and so many prayers, and we need a miracle today. I say this to God, and I know He can do it. Order from chaos, it’s what He’s been doing from the very beginning, and there’s no reason to think He’s not doing it now.

And I can’t help but wonder what it was like when He first created. Before it was broken. Before the Prickly Ash and the Poison Ivy. Before you had to worry about tics giving you Limes Disease and annoying mosquitos carrying who-knows-what. Before brothers with babies numbing their pain with their grown-up bottles, and Mamas and Daddies hearts ripped to shreds with their impossible decisions. And I keep on praying the prayer that’s never failed us. God, I trust you.

The lake is a beautiful place, but wild. It’s why we loved it, and why we chose it, and someday, maybe, the place will be tame. Tame enough for family to come and kids to play and parents to rest. But even then there’ll be plenty that’s broken, and like my friend Sheryl says about her own home, nestled in trees overlooking the river. You know it’s not Heaven. No not Heaven. Not yet.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:1-5

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(in) Love

Luke & Ali

Love is the silver bullet. I said it without even thinking. Or thinking out loud more like. Church staff gathered around tables, talking about outreach and the gospel, and how it’s not one-size-fits all, and yet. It is. Sort of. Isn’t it? One size, or one thing needed, and it’s Jesus who said it. Love.

Last summer Luke came home from working at camp and you could see it written all over his face. How he’d met this girl, and after all those years of him trying to explain what IT was, we could tell this time it might be different. He was different, no question there. Lost in his thoughts one minute and giddy the next. Even the dog could tell something was up. This kid who’d been saying, “I don’t love you Maple,” somewhat joking, somewhat not, now turning soft. And of course, we find out later she’s sending him pictures of puppies in texts – and this is the way it is with love.

Her name is Ali, and she’s got my boy’s heart. Got it last summer before it was official. Before they could exchange anything more than polite conversation without breaking the rules about dating at camp. And I just found out a couple of weeks back, chatting over dinner at another camp wedding, how it was at the last possible minute she took that position at Eagle Lake. How on a whim she’d picked Excursions. Not at all what she’d planned for her summer, and hearing it now you can’t help but feeling quite certain about divine appointment and a Master plan.

So for an entire summer my boy watches this gal out of the corner of his eye and he bides his time and he holds out hope. And it’s just a week or two before he moves back home and she heads back to school, we get this phone call. There’s a girl.

Of course, it’s not too many months later and we’re all thinking it’s not just a girl, but there’s a pretty solid chance this is the girl, and if you’ve been paying attention you know it’s true. Kyle and I remembering our days of countless road trips back and forth between Minnesota and Illinois, and these two could have financed a private jet for all the airfare spent on long distance dating. A school year of FaceTime and online movie nights and rerouting itineraries to include Colorado layovers, and finally it’s here. Another summer.

Another summer at Eagle Lake Camp, only this time they won’t be breaking rules about secret love because it’s no longer a secret and it’s no longer forbidden. Not with that diamond there on her finger, catching the mountain sun. Shimmering its message – this girl is taken. Luke and Ali. Engaged. Promised. Luke and Ali in love.

So yesterday I say it out loud, and I’m not even thinking about Luke and Ali, but sitting here now I know it’s true. It’s LOVE. The silver bullet. Love that’s got a boy nearly willing to forsake eating steak because of the convictions of a certain young lady, and that’s just one of many examples. It’s easy to see what love can accomplish. Moving mountains and such.

Which is right where it happened. On a mountain. It’s where he first saw her face and it’s where he fell on a knee and he asked her the question. Will you marry me, Ali?

And it’s where she said yes to a boy and his love.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:35

God-Dreams

G & K Hawaii

(G & K in Hawaii @kianagrantphotography)

Over the years I’ve had dreams. Some the waking kind, a lingering fancy that can’t be shaken. Others have been the dreams of sleep. Fewer in number, but deeper in meaning. It’s occurred to me lately, these dreams tell a story.

Two nights past I didn’t sleep. Allergies or insomnia, or a head-cold being passed around this family. I wasn’t troubled. Not worried or stressed, in fact quite the contrary. I was content as baby, just fighting sleep. (I’m not really sure as I write it now, that last sentence makes any sense. Thinking of my grand-on-the-way and the discontent sure to keep new parents up for the night.) But alas. This was me. Tossing and turning and trying not to wake my snoring husband, who also wasn’t the cause of my lack of rest.

So I thought about dreams. All night it seemed. Remembering this one and that, savoring the wonder of how they come true. Like a story I’m living, but haven’t written. Every one a dream of God. His. In me. I know this now, because of how they’re transpiring. Better than mine, His dreams taking shape.

I want to go to seminary, write books, and enjoy my grandchildren. That was a nighttime dream. Sound asleep, He asked me the question. “What do you want?” And I answered. Three times, like Peter, if I can use the example. No hesitation, clear in the morning, and I remember it still. Profound in its impact, because I believed it. He gave it – this dream.

It was late summer of 2012. Nearly six years now. I’d been in a season of prayer and learning. All of my writing. The Covenant Story and Life in His Name. I was going back to school. Bethel Sem. This dream, not new, but coming true. I’d be there with Grant, mother and son, paths crossing on our dear old campus. I want to go to seminary. The first time I’d uttered this dream, the boy was a toddler. Years of waiting, now finally happening. I want to write books. Already written. Those stories I’m still pursuing today.

So there I was, not sleeping, remembering dreams, and how He answers. How years before Bethel, He’d already done it. I’m in God’s seminary, and He’s my teacher. A half-dozen years or more, and now I can say this. HIS years of learning were a million times sweeter than any classroom, and that’s not to say I’m not truly grateful for my time of schooling. It’s just that His dream was better. His dream came true.

Every dream He’s ever given has been that way. I remembered as I lay there and I laughed in the dark. How as a senior in high school I’d answered a question about dreams for the future, and I’d said it like this. An amazing husband. A happy family. And I’d like to direct a choir of boys. What?!! I’m totally serious. A dream of a BOYS CHOIR, called the “Agape Singers.” (How 80’s is that?) And not for the first time I think about my boys who are singers, and the dreams He has given, and ONLY HE can do something like that!

As for the amazing husband, let me pause for a moment to linger on this. Snoring aside. Better than amazing, the man is my soul-mate. A term sometimes scorned, but it’s the best way to explain it – to say we are ONE. It’s what I was thinking just hours before, as we sat side-by-side on the shore of Green Lake, basking in sun and a dream coming true. Both of us speechless in light of His giving, two hearts united, and He knows our desires. He doesn’t withhold them. A houseful of boys and all kinds of crazy, years of not knowing if we’re coming or going. Placing family on His altar, and trusting. Believing. And now. Sitting here awestruck, listening to quiet. Surrounded by beauty. White pines, and Aspen, Bald Eagle flying over our heads. We can hardly breath as we pray and we ask it. Can this be from YOU? Your dream, too?

Because let me honest. We’d have dreamed it different. Two years ago, or three. We’d dreamed of escape. Our own little refuge. You’ve read it here if you’ve followed this story. BUT HIS DREAM SO MUCH BETTER. Enjoying grandchildren. God’s dream of family. What do you want? It was the part of my answer I wouldn’t have given. Not on my radar at all way back then. But He knew. He knew it! God’s dream for me was in every way better.

Generations. Grandkids. An adoption story. A dream with our parents. Pop and Grammy, and it’s their dream, too.

One more story. Another God-dream, several years back. He’d become my Counselor. My Holy Spirit, transforming my thoughts and giving me vision, for a future with DAUGHTERS. The wives of these boys. And once again He used His Dream to rewrite my story. My own thoughts were broken. I’d believed a lie about women, and not being wanted, and I’d told myself this. They’re not going to like you. These daughters-to-be. And that’s when it happened, God’s gentle Spirit, said NO – stop that thinking. I have something better. And He helped me relearn it. He altered my dream.

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.
Psalm 89:1