A Few Positive Moments

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If you’re at all like me, you’re holding your breath, waiting for all of this to be “over.” I cannot forget the description from a conservative friend who told me he believes people on his side of the aisle would “crawl on their bellies over broken glass” to get to vote for their candidate. I feel the anxiety increasing in my body. Every time I see a poll, or a reference to a poll, or hear a conversation about a reference to a poll, the anxiety notches up. It’s like there’s a vice squeezing my chest, tightening a quarter turn at a time.

So it’s time for a breather.

local community and my book

There are good people doing good things. People I have just met in my community work hard, work to exhaustion, to serve those considered least among us. I met such a person just tonight. We had a presentation and discussion about my book–yes, it was the first stop on my international book tour, possibly the last, which, granted, would make it less international in nature–and the discussion far exceeded my hopes. A funky community of people who love Jesus, seek justice, and want to live by grace shared with one another tonight. Many of us had never met before. We were all masked and practicing social distancing and I had forgotten how great it is to meet people who are sincerely trying to love their neighbors.

“But how do you love your enemy, when you’ve made up your mind to do it?” one young guy asked. Dang, is that a great question!

I don’t know if I’m going to make it as a writer–I’m sure trying–but Friday night was the clearest I’ve grasped how pastoring and writing can overlap, or maybe how I can pastor as a writer. Also exciting, I made connections with several people here who advocate for and support our local immigrant population. I need to join in this work. One woman who pours herself into this, a long-time friend, told me “We need to have twenty more of these discussions. I’m going to get the people who need to be here.”

Good reports on the book: one guy told me he’s going to finish it and then give it to his daughter, “who will devour it.” Another asked for copies for both a good friend and for his pastor. Really hope I don’t get him kicked out of church.

This is one of my favorite responses:

Man you have really got me thinking. I think I’m at about chapter 8 or so. Even someone like me who has been a churchgoer for 76 years has room to learn and grow.

I need to keep expanding the circle I’m reaching. But I’m tremendously encouraged by the responses I’ve gotten from those who have read it or are reading it. My goal in writing it was to encourage and help and I’m hearing it’s doing that. Good job, little book! Getting people to think is a bonus.

hiking and breathing

Today, we took a hike up Ingall’s Creek, which has become a family favorite. We drank in beauty and I brought home enormous leaves that speak of fall. With each step I felt like I was expelling anxiety and breathing in peace. We had some hilarious moments when trying–and failing–to take a selfie of the three of us and we discovered it took two of us to work the camera.

Am I peaceful now? I’m more peaceful.

The days are about to become very short and cold. I will hike in snow and rejoice that I still can exercise when temperatures drop below freezing, but I am a wimp and winter is my fourth-favorite season. Nonetheless, today, glimpsing a touch of snow for the first time this year, I remembered how beautiful these mountains I love will be when they’re covered. Especially for those of us who battle harder (let the reader understand) when we have less daylight, focusing on the small joys, the simple pleasures, and the goodness that a fourth-favorite season brings becomes a lifesaving choice. Today’s hike was a moment of grace and sanity in this season.

disc golf and tin cup

Have you seen the movie Tin Cup? I’m guessing no. Kevin Costner plays a semi-retired, more than semi-washed-up professional golfer. He can hit a golf ball a mile. I clearly remember a friend railing on this movie when it came out because he insisted that long drives are just one small part of golf and this movie makes driving out to be the whole thing.

My point is, I’ve realized I’m a disc golfer like that. No, not like an actor who is really good at playing one role, regardless of what movie he happens to be in. I like long drives. I’m a not-great putter. I’d say I’m decent at approaches but truthfully, the courses I get to play here don’t have enough long holes to test that. But the other day I was out for a round and threw my tee shot, which I instantly knew I had released too low to have a chance at an ace. And I said “Dang!” before the disc was ten feet out of my hand. And yes, it was too low to have a chance to go into the basket…but it had perfect trajectory and break and got a little loving skip at the end and ended…leaning against the basket pole.

Custom Disc Golf Frisbee Leaning On Target Basket Innova Samsung Galaxy S7  Edge Case By Fanshirt - Artistshot

That’s not “Dang!” Or if it is “Dang,” it’s in a very different, grateful tone. So then I just had to laugh at myself. I think I can attribute this attitude to the fact that I play almost exclusively by myself. I run after nearly every throw of any distance. I run to the next tee. I’m basically out for a run that includes stooping to pick up discs. And sometimes exclamations in response to shots. It’s especially amusing because trying to ace a hole is risky–if the disc is at basket height to go in but misses, even barely, that means the disc will fly past, sometimes a long way. Depending on the layout, flying past can be bad, anything from out of bounds to, on our hole 9, in the street (which, yes, is also out of bounds). Were I competing against someone, I’m sure I’d be more invested in a near-perfect drive for a drop-in, can’t-miss birdie.

halloween party

We had one trick or treater come to our door. Literally, exactly, one. We had a party here instead of going out. Afterward, Kim declared this not only a success but a better idea and questioned why we would ever go out in the cold when we can stay out and have a party? Kim does not like the cold.

We had a blast. We dressed up (I lamest of all, because I had my attention elsewhere, silly me), we created monster-themed foods, we used dry ice to make the punch boil and steam, and we used our industrial strength wagon to give my four-year-old nephew “hayrides,” which really was filling the wagon with leaves and pulling him around the cul-de-sac. He loved it.

Aria dressed as a vampire and I’m still a little unsettled when I look at her. She really got it right. She did not scare either my four-year-old nephew nor my six-month-old nephew, because they both know how much she adores them.

But the coolest part of the whole evening, for me, was when four-year-old Ein was told they had to go but he could first have someone read to him–and he chose me. Those are the small graces that keep me alive. I should say, these are the small graces that make me alive.

Take the blessings where you find them. Let the encouraging moments be more than a moment. Breathe in the cold air and let it fill your lungs.

This, too, is grace.

5 thoughts on “A Few Positive Moments

  1. Derek Murphy

    This is about Something like faith, and is my hearts reaction in the light of Scripture.
    3rd Nov 20’
    Yesterday morning i got up as usual to make a pot of coffee, set up ready to do what has been my habit for over 25 years, which is to read The Scriptures first before anything else. The day before i had just finished Ecclesiastes and so yesterday was due to start reading SONG OF SONGS, as I again read from cover to cover, GOD’S LOVE LETTER to HIS PEOPLE – THE SCRIPTURES.
    As I was all set to read I glanced across at my pile of books in my closet and picked up a book that had been delivered a couple of days ago, a novel called “Something like faith” written by Mike Rumley-wells, i was drawn to start reading it at around 8am and i did not put it down until i finished it at 8.30pm. During the time i was reading it i experienced in my heart, thankfulness, Joy, pain, grief, praise, worship to name but a few, this as i read what was a love story built upon a desire to experience the fullness of love in the way GOD has planned it. I spent big chunks of the day crying as I read the words that spoke THE TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL to my heart.

    This morning i started to read ‘SONG OF SONGS’ but didn’t get past the first five verses.
    THE BIBLE is a book about THE LOVE OF GOD to HIS people, it is about HIS relentless, redeeming pursuit of HIS PEOPLE, not because of nothing other, than HIS COVENANT LOVE, a love that will not let me go, a love that will present HIS PEOPLE spotless before the THRONE OF GRACE, a love that will allow none to be missing of those who HE has called.
    As i read “something like faith” GOD spoke to my heart ‘THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE’ and as HE was set forth as THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, the darkness of man’s world was clearly evident, the folly of man’s ways in rejecting GOD’S way, of being in pursuit of pleasure rather than being in pursuit of GOD.
    THE TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL buried under the layer upon layer of lies that are designed to keep us in bondage as opposed to TRUTH, which is DESIGNED to set us free.

    An S.O.S – is a cry for help, and is also short for SONG OF SONGS.

    These are THE WORDS written in my notes this morning from –
    SONG OF SONGS
    1 v2-4
    Let him kiss me with the kisses of HIS MOUTH,
    For YOUR LOVE is better than wine.
    Because of the fragrance of your GOOD OINTMENTS,
    YOUR NAME is OINTMENT poured forth.
    Draw me away, we will run after YOU.
    THE KING has brought me into HIS CHAMBER.
    We will be glad and rejoice in YOU,
    we will remember YOUR LOVE more than wine.

    As i meditate upon these three verses of a book that is so deep we can never get past putting our little toe in apart from it be revealed by THE SPIRIT, yet it is possible as M.H says to swim in the depths that are found only in THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
    As HIS CHURCH does that, as individual believers do that, feeding at THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE, at THE WATERS OF LIVE, there will be a coming together of like minded people filled with THE FATHER’S LOVE, and when THE FATHER’S LOVE is in THE FATHER’S HOUSE, the prodigals will come home.
    Recently i have stated that my feelings of bereavement have not been so much a bereavement of the loss of the one on earth that i loved the most, but the bereavement of the lack of the experimental knowledge of CHRIST in what we call church, THIS DEEP, DEEP LOVE that flows from CHRIST and into HIS CHURCH for the building up of the body in love, that she might be to the praise of HIS GLORIOUS GRACE.
    The grieving has not really been that GOD has taken her from me, though i miss her everyday, but rather that because of my blindness, the professing churches blindness caused by losing our focus on THE FATHER’S LOVE, i continually failed to love her who i so wanted to love with all my heart, and that she should might die wondering if i loved her or not, as opposed to her clearly seeing in me THE FATHER’S LOVE.
    The novel i read yesterday depicts the BRIDE OF CHRIST, it depicts in Paxton as a type of CHRIST who is watching and waiting as HIS BRIDE seeks THE PURE LOVE Of GOD, keeping herself for that PURE LOVE, that NONE OTHER CAN GIVE.

    Oh the deep deep love of JESUS, vast unmeasured boundless free,
    rolling like a mighty ocean,in its fullness over me,
    Underneath me all around me, is the current of THY LOVE,
    Leading onward, leading homeward, to my glorious rest above.
    Derek

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