Friday, October 29, 2010

Cracked Earth

Texas summers bear down harsh on the land.

Hot gusts blow across parched earth. Deep fissures have no discernible end, as if they might lead into the center of the earth. Low twiggy scrub dots the valley floor here and there, while a few stunted live oaks stand resolute against summer’s furnace. Where I stand today, cracked earth greets my gaze in every direction.

"Cracked Earth" B. S. Wise

I turn from the scene, remembering other seasons during which this place has fed from a stream running through it, when the oaks have stood a little taller and a lot greener, and a restorative breeze has kissed my face.

In those seasons I had a garden over there, on the banks of the riverbed. A low stone wall, now crumbling, still outlines the plot. Beyond the wall, an orchard bore fruit of all kinds, each in its own season. The trees remain, though badly damaged by neglect. Along the near horizon, a low line of foothills reaches skyward to define the boundaries of this place.

My heart sinks at the dismal picture of drought before me.  

Could anything restore this to usefulness? I briefly consider abandoning my location in search of another, just over that ridge. Perhaps a new beginning elsewhere would offer less work than restoring this place to its earlier condition?

But even with a despairing heart, I know the truth: a new beginning would require just as much work, and more. This place feels familiar, and includes my history with it. Best to work with what has already begun here, in this sanctuary of my heart.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives a blessing from God. Hebrews 6:7 NIV

This description does not refer to the occasional flash flood that can sweep across the valley. A single heavy rain does not erase the kind of deep scars that crisscross Texas clay at the end of August. Rather, this description refers to the presence of many misty rains, coming gently and consistently all through the growing season.

Brother Lawrence, a humble seventeenth century monk, also acknowledged that evidence of spiritual drought does not disappear after a single restorative prayer time, but that frequent interaction with our Creator will create a spiritual thirst in us for more:

In order to form a habit of conversing with God continually, and referring all we do to him, we must first apply to Him with some diligence; but after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it [that habit] without any difficulty (The Practice of the Presence of God).

Sucking in a deep breath, I set my face again toward the valley. This is my garden, my responsibility to tend. I sink to my knees, raise my face and my hands toward heaven, and pray for rain.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

God's Whisper

I thought I heard a whisper, but maybe I just imagined it.

For years, I have been out of the habit of regularly conversing with God. Oh, I acknowledge him in my life, but perhaps I am not the first to find that talking about God and talking to him can all too easily become two separate things.

Once we lose sight of that essential close conversation with God, it takes a little work to get it back. I think God waits to see how serious we are about returning to him.

Then I spent the month of September writing a series of Bible studies for a deadline. For six weeks I spent nearly every available moment of nearly every day, pleading for God in his grace to reveal what I should write.

By the end, I had begun to redevelop the habit of conversing with God continually; and I began to thirst for more.

One night last week, I even thought I almost heard him whisper.

Unfortunately, along with this spiritual reawakening, I also began to develop the habit of spending every available moment glued to my computer. I started reading some amazing blogs that challenge me in my spiritual journey.

To add to my tech overload, I got a smartphone. Now I don’t even have to sit at my desk; I can check my networks from anywhere. I can also read my Bible and make my shopping list on my phone.

Reading the Bible on my phone has been awesome. As I fill my mind with scripture, I am slowly feeling God’s presence more and more. Writing a prayer list on my phone has also been awesome. I am remembering to approach the throne of grace with confidence.

But as with any of my manic obsessions, computer time can turn into too much of a good thing. My family has been suffering from lack of my attention. My messy, dusty house tells the story. And I know it.

So perhaps it was just my guilty conscience that night, whispering to me:

Give your days to your family.
I will give you time to write.

But I suspect God really did whisper to me, for starting the next morning, family matters have demanded all of my available time. My daughter didn’t feel well enough to go to school one morning. But she felt well enough to be getting underfoot, so I took her to school 2 hours into the day.

  • 2 hours later, the nurse called me to come get her and her 100.8 fever.
  • The next day I took her to the doctor, to find out she had a virus called pleuritis: inflammation of the lung lining, which causes the lungs to rub uncomfortably against the ribs.
  • The day after that I took her to the allergist, to find out she has no antibodies against 40 common foods. This is positive news, but somehow each of those events consumed my days.
  • The weekend became consumed by spending time with extended family.
  • The beginning of this week became consumed by simply cleaning my house and organizing closets, getting rid of old things we don’t want or need anymore.
  • Each night I have been busy or so tired I have followed the kids to bed.

And somehow 8 days have slipped away since God spoke.

But instead of feeling beaten down, I feel refreshed. The Bible in 90 Days challenge still nurtures me; the “Unlock the Bible in 30 Days” series still inspires me; and surprisingly, breaking from writing long enough to prioritize my responsibilities to my kids and my house satisfies me.

All this "cleaning house" helps me feel I am removing obstacles that interfere with my ability to hear and receive God's presence. As I seek him for strength to assemble a Bible study series, I feel like I'm getting more and more in tune with his voice again.

I am almost to the point where I can hear him whisper.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Of Blooming and Planting

Last October, Louisiana Neighbor (my garden muse and educator in all things "Southeren") delivered to me a small white plastic bag of nondescript roots, with the simple instruction:

Just stick them in the ground--anywhere--and see what happens.

I stuck a dozen bulbs in the ground, mostly along the front edge of my front flower bed, and forgot about them.

This past weekend, as I left my front door on the way to church, a splash of red caught my eye beneath the tangle of jasmine vine creeping up the brick to my left. One of the spider lilies bloomed!

Of course I immediately spun around to examine the planting locations of the other eleven bulbs. Nothing.

But ONE has bloomed. And it continues to bring such joy to my heart, even if it only remains for a handful of days.

Freelance writing bears some resemblance to these lily bulbs. One can nurture a dozen ideas and submit them to the world for validation publication. Maybe one will survive all the weather, soil and watering conditions and grow to maturity.

For in the moment that one idea blooms, the writer receives validation, and inspiration to plant more ideas. Each bloom brings the writer one step closer to becoming an author.

After delivering a five-part Bible study series on Judges to an editor a few weeks ago, I have been encouraged to find a few more bulbs and stick them in the ground. Just to see what happens.

Where are you in the writing process? Have you collected any bulbs? Found a flower bed in which to plant them? Have you stuck them in the ground? Or perhaps you have received blooms to inspire you? Keep at it!

On today's to-do list, I will plant another bulb. Share with me, what is your next step?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Drink Deeply :: Unlock the Bible

A new series begins to weigh on my heart: Unlocking the Bible. I draw up an outline, begin to assign topics to days. Of all the things I know from experience (cooking, gardening, marriage, parenting, crafting) and about which I aspire to share the wisdom I have gathered, this process I know from training. I am fortunate to have been educated in the method of Bible study. Yet the words squeeze out drop by drop, their release constricted, as I wonder:

Is it time for this, Lord? Dare I speak for you? 
The answer comes as a whisper to my heart: Drink deeply from my well. What you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45, NLT).

My desire to share this subject grows into a sense of urgency as I realize (so late) its timeliness. A social network contact sends out a plea: “Does anyone know a good systematic Bible study? I can’t afford Bible college.”

I point her in the direction of some good published Bible studies, and share the name of my personal reference book on the subject of Bible study. I resolve more strongly to write this series. Yet the more I want to write, the more I feel the need to stop and drink deeply.

I pull out my copy of a slim volume, The Practice of the Presence of God. I drink from the musings of Brother Lawrence, and feel refreshed.

Now, Lord?
Drink more. Be like a tree planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Your leaves will never wither, and you will prosper in all you do. (Psalm 1:3, NLT)

I gather the rest of my applicable books from the reference shelf. Time to build the credibility of the words I have already begun to set down. I page through each book, hearing echoes of my college professors as they repeated certain phrases throughout the course of my education, and I realize the scope of what I propose to relate. This terrifies me. I remember all too well the words of the apostle as he addressed the roles of believers within the church.

“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1, NIV).

Lord, I don’t know if I can do this after all.
Drink from my well. Abide in me, and I will abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me (John 15:4, ISV).

I attend to my children, the dishes, the laundry, the grocery list. I attend to my husband, respectfully turning my focus toward us-centered activities.

I wait, and drink from the well.

Each time, he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT).

While waiting, I turn to the foundation of my faith. Today’s reading in the Bible in 90 Days Big Gulp Challenge brings me to Deuteronomy, in which Moses addresses the children of Israel one final time before his death and their crossing into the Promised Land. He begins from the beginning and retells the entire history of the nation of Israel, showing God’s faithfulness to his chosen beloved. Moses points them to a future bright with promise, and gives many stern warnings to be faithful.

Lord, help me to be faithful to drink deeply from your well before trying to share your living water. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight (Psalm 19:14, ESV).

The upcoming 30 day how-to series on Unlocking the Bible will begin November 1. What do you think? Does the number thirty sound like too many points for a how-to list, or not enough?

Friday, October 15, 2010

How To Unlock the Secrets of the Bible

I have been thinking of writing a how-to series on studying the Bible. This literary tome comes across a little intimidating, even for those who grew up hearing stories of David and Goliath in Sunday School.

My experience has taught me to release the fear and simply open the book, trusting to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to direct my reading and understanding. My education included a study of biblical history, literature, continuity, and languages (well, not the actual languages, but I do know that the scriptures were originally penned in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek).

Yet I must confess a little secret: the book continues to intimidate me. Just as with jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool, I have to pause and mentally gather myself each time I open it. All too often, this leads to a lack of reading. And those who don’t read it do not experience its transformative power.

The first step of this hypothetical how-to series for unlocking the Bible should keep it basic and simple, don’t you agree? I think I’ve got it right here.

How To Study the Bible, Step 1: Just Do It.
Seriously, just sit down, open it, and read.
  • Need a place to start? Try reading a Psalm a day. Or a few verses in Proverbs.
  • Need a book? Check out You Version online. It's free, and you can even access it from your mobile phone! I will tell you, this is the secret to my success this time around. I have chosen to read the New Living Translation.
To help overcome that pause in myself, I have decided to dive headlong into the pool and attempt to read the entire book in 90 days. I would call this more of a Big Gulp than an easily digestible study, but I sit here optimistic that it will help build the pattern of reading that God can use to transform me.

Today I start Day 12 of 90, already in Numbers 20. By the end of Day 15, I will have read through the entire Torah, the first five books. As I read, I highlight random verses, copy them to a notepad, and add a quick note of: “Well this is odd” or “I love how these two things happen close together!” But that kind of interaction can also wait for another day. I certainly don’t wait until I feel scholarly before plowing into each day’s reading; the whole point of Gulping is to give myself permission to just read. For now, the important thing is to get over the pause, and crack the Good Book open.

What are you waiting for? Go read a bit, then come back and tell me what you found!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I took Cupcakes to a Twitter Party

Last night I had the most fun of all my years in blogland. I attended a Twitter Party with an unknown number of new friends. The #goodwork Twitter Party consisted of a whole bunch of people throwing vaguely connected comments into a shared window. We discussed pie, blogging, miners, and possibly a few other things that would only seem funny to one who had been there.

Wait. Pie?

Oh, yes. I took cupcakes to a Twitter Pie Party. I thought they made a nice addition to the table. And do you know what? Nobody complained. Since we were sharing, I also enjoyed someone else's cherry pie very much.

But seriously.

The group of people attending the Twitter Party with me are part of a community of writers and bloggers known as The High Calling. From the website: seeks to create opportunities for Christian leaders to encounter God through new media tools for the transformation of daily life, work, and our world. Christian leaders are in all aspects and activities of daily life—including home, community, leisure, as well as occupation.

Essentially, followers of Jesus work at sharing their faith in Jesus through the medium of, well, social media. My High Calling profile tells me I have been part of this community for two weeks, one day. Had I known sooner it existed, I would have already joined.

While I don't talk about it every day here, I do feel strongly that every word I write has a higher purpose than just entertainment or journaling. Underneath everything I say and do, lies a desire to break open God's truth the best I know how, to present it in a way that draws a reader closer to that truth.

My new High Calling friends talk about their faith and family with such intelligence and grace. I fancied myself full of intelligence and grace until I met them. But they inspire me to work harder, to seek God more earnestly, to refine my own thoughts until they begin to contain more of God's intelligence and grace.

Colossians 4:6 says, "Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone."

This is the High Calling of my written work. I am glad to have found a community that shares this calling.

Oh, and the cupcakes? They were for my birthday today. Not many of them made it past the Twitter Party (I had to eat for lots of people), but that's ok. I have been promised that I don't have to make dinner.

Happy my birthday to you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Learning Opportunity

My little suburban plot continues to grow. I could say it thrives, but gardening in Texas still feels more like chipping away at a block of stone than the pastoral earth-working experience I remember from hazy childhood days in Ohio. More accurately, I would say this plot lives.

Determination wins this battle, coupled with a stream of hope. The words that come to my mind over and over this year say, "We learn more from our failures than we do from success." Two seasons a year, I have the opportunity to try new soil amendments, irrigation techniques, planting strategies, so I can someday feed my family a meal or two without having to go to the store.

I grasp for the discipline my garden requires of me. I determine to apply its lessons to other areas of my life: parenting, housecleaning, seeking God. Failure does not make me a terrible parent, a miserable housekeeper, a wayward child of God.

Every mistake simply gives me further opportunities to learn. Please, Father, let me never come to a place where I have nothing left to learn.

What failures have taught you the most?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Be Prepared for What?

We checked out that amazing opportunity on Wednesday night and I was relieved to find that my dream had not fallen in front of me after all.

My current status quo continues unthreatened.

Dream Averted

However, an interesting thing happened this week as I was thinking about moving to the country. I began to research what God’s word has to say about being prepared.

I expected to be validated in my search for a place to set up camp in the country, build up my pantry, retreat to my roots, and prepare for the (zombie) apocalypse. I really did.

I did not validate my theory.

Check it out:
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me...” John 14:2-3

“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”
1 Corinthians 2:9 (quoting Isaiah 64:4)

The one doing the action of preparation in these verses is actually God. He is preparing a place, a home for us. No mention of expectation of action on our part. But here is something about us and preparation:

“If a man cleanses himself from [ignoble purposes], he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21

Oh, wait. That’s about God again, preparing us this time.

One more try:

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2

Hm. That’s still not about us being prepared for whatever apocalypse might befall us. It’s about preparing ourselves to spread the word of God patiently and carefully.

Then I am reminded of another passage. One that has comforted me at various times throughout the years. One specifically about not preparing, at least not in the sense for which I was seeking support. Jesus spoke these words during his famous Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 6:19-34:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

But seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

What I see in these verses tells me that God will take care of the details, of the preparation of our home. Our eternal home, yes, but our here home as well.

What I see reminds me to focus my preparations on the truly important:

God’s kingdom.
God’s righteousness.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.”
2 Timothy 4:2

He’ll take care of the rest.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prepared to Follow Your Dreams?

If your dream suddenly landed in front of you, would you eagerly scoop it up and take it home with you, or would you have to stop and wonder, "Is this REALLY the thing I want?"

Our long term plan for years has been to buy land in the country and build a self-sustaining ecosystem for ourselves. Maybe not to the extent of spinning our own thread and making our own clothes, but definitely with the eye of becoming self-sufficient as much as possible. Storage cellars, garden, chickens, (have I mentioned the 25,000 gallon water cistern I obsess over?), and whatever ways we can come up with to store energy.

I suppose the desire is rooted in the same place as our silly fixation with the zombie apocalypse. We want to own ourselves. We want to live close to our roots. And by roots I mean original life before all the technology we invented to make life easier, that ended up making life incredibly complex.

This plan has always been framed in terms like, "Someday. In ten years. Maybe five years." Then something came up this week that has me thinking furiously. Could it be time to grasp that dream? 

Suddenly I feel myself backpedaling. I am not prepared for this!

  • How does one go about living 20 miles from the grocery?
  • What about the internet? I think I could give up hot water before I could go back to dial-up Internet.
  • I also feel pretty strongly about plumbing in general. Flushing toilets, washing machines, purified water. And I did not really mean what I just said about hot water. That is a pretty important piece of technology.
  • Oh yes, and roads. Those are pretty important after a Texas sized rain.

So, while I want to go back to basics, I need to be clear that I could not go too basic.

A friend of mine just escaped country life a year ago. I texted her the other day, saying: “QUICK! Remind me all the reasons you hated the country life! I can talk myself into it, but I need to know I also considered the not-so-fantastic reasons!”

Her reasons (slightly amplified, but she will attest this as true):
  • Driving.
  • Driving.
  • Driving.
  • An Inconvenient Store = you may get the thing you forgot at the grocery, but it will cost almost twice as much.
  • Not the Whole Truth = no newspaper delivery on dirt (or sand) roads.
  • Nasty water, unless you dig your own well.
  • Manure smell.
  • Dirt.
  • Dirt on the car.
  • Wear and tear on the car.
  • Driving.
  • Schools, church, post office, library... you don’t realize how much you use those services until they are all ten miles (or more) distant.
  • Small town, small minded people.
  • BUGS!
  • Emergency response time much slower b/c FD and Sheriff are volunteer jobs.
  • Driving.
  • Dirt.
  • Driving.
The other reason she saved until I called her the next morning, and I found it the most compelling reason of all: the kids. She wanted her kids to have community. That does present a serious kink in my plan, because I want that for my kids, too.

And yet . . . I can’t get it out of my head. The country is burning a hole in this suburban girl's heart. I want a water well, an orchard, a barn . . . and I don’t know how long we have before the zombies come!

What's up with all this zombie talk, anyway?

Today I am curious, what would you do if your dream suddenly presented itself to you? Would you be ready to sell everything you had to pursue it? Or would you have to step on the brakes, reconsidering all the implications and other things you would have to give up in order to seize this thing?

Would you be prepared?

Be Prepared: Zombie Theology

What exactly is a zombie?

According to World War Z (Max Brooks' meticulously researched, definitive guide), it all starts with an out-of-control virus. Once a human has been infected by this particular virus, he or she experiences brain death, followed by reanimation and an unquenchable need to consume living flesh. Zombies are unintelligent, incapable of planning, motivated solely by the need to gratify their one desire. They never tire, and the only way to stop them is to completely destroy their brain.

What if we think about sin as a virus that infects the citizens of earth, causing them to steal, kill and destroy every good thing? We could easily crown the Father of Lies, King of the Zombies. This king has mesmerized the human population into following after pleasure and gratification, with no discernment.

We could easily think of the zombies as us vs. them. All the people we like, as opposed to all the crazies.

Yet the more I think about it, the more I see a world all around me full of zombies. We all suffer under the curse of the zombie, struggling against our inborn sin nature. The Bible says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way...” (Isaiah 53:6). Sheep just follow whatever leads them, wherever it goes.

The good news is that when Jesus came, he called himself the Shepherd, the one to seek and save those lost sheep: he came to pull us out of Zombieland and restore us with a new life. It turns out there is a cure for zombie-ism after all.

“I have come so they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

The zombie apocalypse starts to sound more plausible, doesn't it? Fortunately, I know a secret. There is a cure, it is free, and there is enough of it to go around.

My attempt to “flesh out” a zombie theology represents my chronic search for God’s truth hidden in every corner and side road of life. I know it’s rough treatment; I have seen this topic handled with greater finesse on another blog I read recently. I cannot for the life of me find that post again today, however. If you have additional thoughts to share on this subject, I’d love to read them. Just post your link in the comments, otherwise I might end up hosting the first-ever zombie theology blog hop!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Be Prepared: The Zombies are Coming

Are you ready for the Zombie Apocalypse? I am not quite ready yet. My personal goal is to have a 25,000 gallon water cistern and water treatment system. After that, bring it on...

A few years back, my brother-in-law (Coach) gifted the family with a book called World War Z, a memoir of the Zombie Apocalypse. The novel is told as if it were true, from the vantage point of someone collecting oral history of the 15 years since civilization packed up and went to hell in a handbasket.

I found it both disturbing and bizarre.

  • Then a few zombie movies enjoyed successful summer releases.
  • The expression, “Braiins!” entered the family vernacular.
  • The hubby and kids began to obsessively play Plants Vs Zombies on his iPhone.
  • People began to dress as zombies for Halloween.
  • Coach taught my baby how to roar to scare away zombies.

A few months ago we went to visit Coach and found he also has the companion guide to World War Z: The Complete Handbook for everything you need to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.

The familiar seldom seems as bizarre as the strange. As the idea has grown familiar, the Zombie Apocalypse (henceforth ZA) starts to seem reasonable. Certainly no harm could come of preparing oneself for it, just in case.

Recently I have begun to discuss the ZA with friends and strangers alike. I get strange looks, but as I explain myself, the expressions change to understanding, and more often than not I leave the conversation with another believer.

Why do I care whether they believe? Because we need to be prepared! Also, I need to identify essential people for a team: live together, die alone and all that.

So far my discussions have turned up a friend that grew up on a farm and knows how to slaughter and dress a chicken, and my ob/gyn who coolly told me he has already worked out an emergency radio contact plan in case we suddenly experience catastrophic communication failure. He just bought a ranch outside of town and has plans to open a clinic after the apocalypse. Before we spoke, he described himself more as a survivalist, but now he totally understands what we are working toward.

I pick both of these for my team.

In all seriousness, the idea of the ZA seems to signify something that touches us deep down inside, where fears lie buried in uncertainty. Everyone resonates with the idea of planning ahead for the possibility of civilization decline. Uneasiness about the political climate, economy, weather, and more creates this vague sense of needing to become independent of the culture on which we lean so heavily.

In good news, people have been preparing for the end of the world for millennia. We just add our lives to the list of those who understand that this age will not last forever and want to be prepared "when it all goes down."

  • Later this week, I will address in greater detail the connection I see between Zombies and the life of a Christ follower. There is one.
  • Also, I will share more about our ongoing adventures in the search for perfect spot for our own Zombie hideaway. Because rural South Central East Texas isn't middle of nowhere enough.
  • Naturally following that, I will chat about home. What is your home like? What feels like home? Why are we always searching for someplace more like home?

I think this first week of October will be fun around here. It could involve my very first video blog entry. And if you're really lucky, I might even look up a recipe for something to fuel us up while we fight off the Zombies together.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Matter of Perspective

A few nights ago I embarked on a late-night walk with my beloved. As we swung around the neighborhood circle to face the northeast, we noticed the gibbous moon rising, an enormous bowl of light just cresting the trees.

The moon looks so deliciously huge when it first rises. This has always impressed me as some kind of nature's magic: if only I could reach a little further, I could pluck that peach from the heavens and feast until I burst. I was taught as a child that rays of the sun bend as they pass through our atmosphere, thus creating this "Moon Illusion" that the moon appears of a larger size on the horizon.

Then a year ago, I learned that I was taught wrong. The moon actually stays the same size, even in appearance, from its rising to its setting. The Moon Illusion exists only in our minds.

The difference is a matter of perspective. 

Do you believe me? Next time you see the moon on the horizon, hold up your finger and blot it out. A little later, when the moon appears small while high in the sky, hold up your finger again. Does it take the same size finger at the same distance from your eye to blot out that orb of light?

The moon looks huge when close to the ground, because it shines close behind trees, buildings, mountains, whatever lies on the horizon. Up in the sky, with no points of reference, it definitely looks like the "lesser light."

With no points of reference, we fail to grasp the magnitude of the sky. 

The plains of Texas offer a seemingly unlimited view of the nighttime sky. That sky sets a wildness in my heart and births a longing in my spirit, for something bigger than I can comprehend. Sometimes I catch myself wishing I could run and jump onto the moon before it clears the treetops, and ride it high into the heavens.

I get caught up sometimes in my own personal Really Big crises. My problems rise like the moon, huge and obvious and impossible to turn from their course. They seem to blot out the rooftops of my neighbors' problems; the swaying trees of global unrest. Today it was a car that gave up the ghost, and a semi-traumatic trip to a giant new grocery store (Honest, sir, I did not intend to drop that jar of queso on my foot; it was sort of stuck to the coupon taped to the jar I pulled out for my basket... Would you happen to have a paper towel so I can wipe this cheese off my foot?)

Eventually my problems get put into perspective. They rise into the impossibly huge sky where they belong.

And suddenly, they look so small in that vast universe of God's grace.

The problems don't change size, but my perspective certainly does.

Next time I find myself with a rising problem that begins to dominate my spirit, I am going to remind myself to send it rising on its way, into the sky where God's version of the Moon Illusion will shrink it down to size.

The photos in this post were actually taken the same night I was looking at the moon and thinking about the size of the sky. Darcy, a blogger I follow, happened to have a "Shoot the Moon" assignment, and posted her photos the next day.

Darcy is posting photography tips every day in October, aiming to share her hard-earned skills with anyone looking for a little photographic improvement. Go check out her blog and her lovely photography by clicking the images above or the button below:

life with my 3 boybarians