Saturday, March 8, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
It's the theme of the prolific Ted Dekker's newest book, Water Walker, of The Outlaw Chronicles.
It's one of the central themes of the Gospels.
And it is one of the central themes of our lives, whether we traffic in its presence or absence.
From the Old English.
Completely. To fill back up. To make full.
Give. To bestow. To grant. To entrust.
The willingness to fill the wrongdoer's cup again, to pour into them, to let go.
I know the virtues of forgiveness. I've received it. For the words I shouldn't have spoken, for the thoughts I shouldn't have had, for the fights I shouldn't have picked.
I've given it. To the girls who beat me up...twice...at the bus stop in fifth grade. To the dance mom who didn't want my hard of hearing daughter in the same class with the other 'normal' four year olds. To the trusted friend who turned. To those who have caused big hurts and big doubts and silent tears.
But when I look at it again, when I taste of the word in its subtle nuances and when I feel its quench in parched places, I realize.
There are lurking deserts in my pools of grace.
The big events, the ones that called for expansive mercy, they seem to still be bathed in grace's eddy.
But the dry patches. They are there. They dot the surface like isolated islands, pitting the calm.
It's the thousand little things.
The irksome irritations.
The nagging disappointments.
The subtle annoyances.
The barbs held in reserve.
The grit of unforgiveness that roughens the soul and irritates the eye of the heart.
So I wash anew. I pray open the floodgates and I confess. Absolution comes flowing through the cracks, it spills over the banks, it bursts from the places I have held it back. It churns and immerses and swirls. It fills the subtle fractures that have slivered my For Giefan.
The waters settle. The tide quiets and the surface stills. For now, I gaze upon a translucent sea. Days will come when new challenges will rise up out the waters, raw hurts, fresh temptations for retaliation.
But for now, the water is calm. The water is complete.
Grace becomes so solid I can step out onto its gossamer surface.
And I walk on mercy water.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
That handsome white-haired guy up there in the middle?
That's my dad's best friend.
They were rocket scientists together.
My dad led a fascinating life and he was surrounded by fascinating people.
Particularly Al McDonald.
If his name sounds familiar to you, it might be because of this:
It was Al McDonald who was the engineer who refused to sign off on the launch of Challenger in January of 1986 because of his concerns about the freezing conditions at the launch pad and the impact those conditions could have on the Shuttle and its boosters.
Tragically, his agonized apprehension was well-founded.
He and my dad's friendship ran deep, ran decades, became brotherhood. His stories of his and my dad's years of working together, playing pranks on each other and fellow co-workers, of driving through crazy weather conditions to get to the lab can quickly get my brothers and me worked into side-splitting laughs. And his heart-felt conversations about the support and solidarity he and my dad shared in the days after Challenger and through the changes in the rocket industry inspire us about the power of friendship.
Al's fascinating and in-depth book about the Challenger disaster is called Truth, Lies and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, published by University Press. In addition to hardcover and paperback, it's recently been released in Kindle format (you can find Amazon purchasing information here). He also speaks across the country on his experiences in the space industry and the critical importance of integrity, ethics, leadership and safety in business and exploration (click here to visit his website).
Growing up in the rocketry and space community was the stuff of my and my brothers' childhoods. We spent many an hour standing on dry lake beds, waiting for Shuttles to land and for rockets to be tested. We went to school with astronauts' kids and sonic booms were daily percussions in our neighborhood as the sound barrier was broken each day by test pilots. It was our normal.
It's now that I realize how unique 'growing up space community' really was.
When Al arrived for my dad's memorial, my brothers and I all scrambled over one another to run into his arms. His humor and love and tears and laughter and integrity, so highly valued by my dad, are much beloved by my siblings and my mom and myself. To reflect on the amazing people my dad called friends and who called my dad friend reveals a spectacular legacy, a community of star gazers, engineering dreamers, voyagers who made the galaxies their seas.
William Butler Yeats wrote, "Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends."
What a blessing to share in that glory.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
I was so blessed this weekend to speak at the Highland Lakes Women's Retreat on the northern edge of Highland Lakes region deep in the Texas Hill Country.
It was a sweet, refreshing time and everyone was so welcoming.
Between speaking sessions, I had a little time to enjoy the sunshine and walk down a few of the paths in the property. I headed toward the shoreline, to take in the dramatic vistas and the quiet.
As I walked under a warm February sun, interesting markers began to show up along the path. There were signs that listed rules for being in the water, what kind of flotation gear was required, what kind of behavior was expected while on the water.
But the shoreline was still a long, long way off.
There were marked paths for accessing the beach areas, paths that suddenly dwindled and lost their mark in to small fields.
Central Texas has been dealing with a severe drought and the lake levels of many area lakes have dropped significantly. Topography that has been hidden underwater for many years is now exposed. Beaches and lake access areas are now far inland. This particular finger of the lake looks more like a small river, the houses that used to boast a shoreline access now high above the new banks.
As I rounded the curve of trail, I saw something unusual. Peppered across the rolling hills were building structures, open on the sides, roofs sagging, perched at odd angles and in various states of disrepair.
They had originally been anchored at convenient spots in the water, hubs of boating activity, floating garages where ski boats and kayaks and pontoons could tie up after hours of fun in the sunshine and water.
Once the lake levels began receding, the docks were left marooned in a dry sea of weeds.
And there they remain.
Without water, a boat dock cannot fulfill its purpose.
Just like a believer in Christ.
Our faith gives us a structure and purpose, to be beacons of gathering, to be places of launch, to mentor and love and guide people to dive into the waters of life and faith. But sometimes, we allow the dry conditions of the world around us to sap us and then we fail to return to our source of Living Water. We begin to feel dehydrated of joy, dried up. We cling to the structure we know, but that structure, without water flowing through it and around it, becomes an aimless legalism, a boat dock from which no vessel can launch.
So close. Yet purposeless without water.
I stood for awhile in the warm sunshine, looking on those lonely boat docks, listening to what I was being shown. Those docks were within easy sight distance of the current shoreline. But their anchoring kept them tethered to dry places.
I want my anchoring to be in Christ, to be firmly attached to where He is, to where He moves, to where He goes.
Anchored in Living Water.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
I'm really not going to write post after post about all the events of the last few weeks.
But there's just a lot of treasure that was scattered there among the shipwreck that was supposed to be our holidays.
So much treasure.
And I feel compelled to bring it up from the murky depths of a sea of sadness and let it sparkle and shimmer as it should.
That picture above.
That's my Jessica. My sister neighbor. My running partner.
My friend who, just a handful of days before Christmas, flew through an ice storm to come to a city she'd not ever visited to mourn a man she'd never met.
She met us at the chapel and I ran into her arms. And my kids ran into her arms.
As I spoke at my dad's memorial, she sat quietly on a back row.
For a man she'd never met.
For my daddy.
How do you thank someone for helping carry your hurt when they don't have to, when distance and ice storms and holidays are more than a legitimate reason to continue with regularly scheduled programming? And instead that someone drops everything and comes?
I don't know how to thank her.
All I can do is surface with the precious treasure of her devotion, hold it to the light, and say, "This. This is friendship. This is bearing one another's burdens."
"This is love."
Two of my friends from my Tulsa book club and church, JT and EC, came with their husbands, four friends I hadn't seen in years.
Just to celebrate my dad.
And to cry with me.
My darling LC left her Christmas celebration with her grandbaby early, to hug my neck and celebrate my dad.
My aunt and cousins left at dawn to drive on frozen highways.
My dad's best friend conquered flight delays and cancelled planes.
The man my dad mentored for years found a flight into a city several hours away and drove through the night.
My precious Hanson clan showed up in mass and cried and laughed and hugged and mourned and loved.
My in-laws, couples who have known my parents through my in-laws, my mom's Bible study group, my parent's incredible neighbors, my brother's in-laws, my brother Dave's Friday morning Bible study guys, his amazing Band of Brothers of faith...on and on and on.
And the phone calls and texts and messages and flowers and donations from loved ones far and wide, all who made us feel so loved and thankful.
What a sparkling, golden abundance I hold in my soul's hands, washed in tears and clutched to the heart.
Thank you all.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
That's my precious daddy up there in that photo, tending to his tomatoes a couple of summers ago.
I love that picture.
For those of you who follow my blog, Facebook, etc., you're probably already aware that my dad passed after a brief but mighty battle after having received two medications that are not supposed to be co-prescribed.
And yet were.
I'm sure my writer's heart will process many of those final days' events through written language, but I don't know if those writings will find their way to my blog. I just don't know yet. It's all too recent and intimate and surreal.
It made the Christmas season just....weird. Very weird.
As we moved through the hospital and the ICU and the lobby and then through the stores and businesses as we made plans for my dad's memorial, it seemed so odd that Christmas decor was garishly everywhere. I actually found myself, five days before Christmas and one day before my dad's memorial, in a store thinking, "Why on earth are they playing 'White Christmas' in here?"
And then had to darkly laugh at myself.
A store playing Christmas music at the holidays. Of all the nerve.
It just didn't seem like Christmas.
And yet it was.
Watching my brothers and my mom as we navigated those last horrible, beautiful, wrenching, inspiring days at my dad's bedside, I could not have felt more pride and awe and gratitude for my family of origin. My dad was achingly courageous, my mom was gorgeously strong, my brothers tender and tough. My tribe. My people. My blood. Shattered. Scared.
Four days before Christmas, we held my dad's memorial.
In the middle of an ice storm.
And the next night, we had our Lyles Christmas.
And the next night, we had a fly-by Carr Christmas.
And the next day, Christmas Eve, we said goodbye to all the extended family and drove back to ATX.
And the next day was Christmas.
It was Christmas. But it wasn't Christmas. But it was.
In all the best sense of the season, it was very much a holiday filled with tremendous memory, love from friends and family, care, heart and kindness. And we experienced with fresh, tear-filled eyes the hope that our faith brings, the belief that an obscure baby born to an obscure girl in an obscure town in a dusty Roman outpost gives us purpose and the promise that this life matters and leads to eternity.
In that way, this was a most specific and pure of Christmases for us.
It was a Christmas with a lot of tears.
And a lot of joy.
And somehow, miraculously, a lot of laughter.
We didn't get the Christmas miracle we wanted.
But we did get a Christmas miracle.
Joy can still flower, even when it seems dark.