And God Spoke through Peacocks and a Cable Guy…

 

Peacock Blue by StacyJMT

 

As I awoke this morning, my thoughts filled with a certain dream of mine. Not the singing-the-National-Anthem at-a-Dodgers-game in-your-skivvies kind of dream. The goal-in-your-heart kind of dream. The one that fills your waking hours, and sometimes seems as unlikely to occur as the Nation Anthem solo.

This was a morning when the dream seemed far from being achieved…mostly because of my own shortcomings, as I see them. It can take a long time to wait for a dream. After a while, waiting becomes the status quo; and it begins to seem as if the dream will never be anything more than its name.

I turned over to take up my Bible for morning meditation. As I did, my eyes fell on a Dasani water bottle on my nightstand. Sunlight filtered through the semi-transparent label, catching my attention with a beautiful blue-green color. I had a passing thought that it would be a lovely color to use in one of my art pieces; then picked up my Bible, said a prayer, and opened to a random page.

Nothing is ever random in God’s universe. I found myself looking at Ezekiel 39:8: “It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of.”

A little ripple of shock, followed by excitement, went through my heart. The Lord had heard me, and was telling me that my dream would come true. It reminded me of the Daily Word devotional for this date–”With God, all things are possible.” Even if I couldn’t see how.

So I arose and went about my day. Who knows—maybe, somewhere ocean-deep in my heart, I didn’t really believe my dream would come true. In any case, God must have thought I needed a clearer message. So He sent me peacocks.

Peacocks. Four of them.

I live in the Central California coast—like, in a condo, in the middle of an area that has streets, industry, homes. No zoos. No aviaries. The wildest bird I’ve ever seen here was a white dove.

But today there were four magnificent peacocks taking a leisurely stroll across the deck outside my window. All I could do was stare at them. Peacocks.

With beautiful Dasani-blue feathers.

I watched them, bemusedly, till they disappeared. Who knows where they came from or where they went.

A few minutes later, a cable guy knocked on the door. On a Saturday. And we don’t have cable. However, our DSL is coming up for renewal, and we’ve been thinking of changing to cable. That has been my job, to research the services, and discover which company and which plan would give me the bandwidth speed I need for video conferences. I’ve been distracted with this—I’ve been fretting about it, trying to figure it out, worrying that I wouldn’t get it done in time, doubting that it was even possible to get faster internet where we live.

Suddenly, there was the cable guy on my doorstep. He gave us a flyer that had every plan we could possibly need on it. Told us that they would be installing cable in other condos around us next week. Mentioned that there were no contracts to worry about, no installation fees, no prime-time slowdowns of service. Just effectively answered every one of my questions, dispelled my worries, and took the matter out of my hands, giving me exactly what I hoped for.

Peacocks and a cable guy.

When something that unusual happens, I can’t help thinking that there must be a reason. Within moments, it sank in.

With God, all things are possible.

I may think this dream of mine is way out there, too impossible to come true. But so are peacocks in a condo complex. I may think I need to work extra hard, earn my dream, be worthy enough before it can come true—do a whole litany of tasks before I can have what I want. When all along it’s really a gift of God’s grace, which He will lay on my doorstep at exactly…the right…moment.

Dasani blue. Whenever I see it, I’ll think of peacocks, a cable guy, and God’s clear, eclectic voice speaking to me on a sunny Saturday.

With God, anything’s possible.

Even the unlikely.

 

Photography by Stacy J-M Taylor

 

The Three-Letter-Word

 

There is a subject that has been heavy on my heart for many months now. A recent, feeling post by Jesse Loop has reignited it to the point where words are starting to flow out of my heart and through my fingers.

It’s the subject of the “three-letter-word.”

Brains are whirring. I know, mine did. It’s hard to come up with a foul word that only has three letters. A word that makes you wince inwardly at the mental picture it brings up. A word that leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you think of what it means, and how it is used. A word that many people try not to say in polite company. Yes, that bad.

And mousewords is gonna say it on her blog.

God.

The very thought of God has become detestable to many…because of the way He has been portrayed by those who call themselves His people.

Sexual abuse in the name of God. Child abuse in the name of God. Emotional abuse, spousal abuse. Racial discrimination. Religious intolerance.

Too often, the result is that the victim of abuse recoils from the God whose name was used in the justification of unconscionable actions. Others who witness such abuse and discrimination are disgusted by many so-called “Christians.” The righteousness in their souls shrinks away from being associated with such a “God.”

And people are driven away.

So what do I think when I hear someone say that the actions of others have caused them to turn away from God? Do I think, “You’re doomed.” “You must be a bad person, or you couldn’t say that.” “You better repent pretty fast, or there will be hell to pay (literally).”

No.

When someone turns away from God, my heart cries. Not because of the hellish doom they are facing.

Because of the incredible love they are missing.

And God the Father of all cries with me.

The “sinner” is not the person who has been hurt and has turned away from the thought of God out of revulsion for what has been done in God’s name. The sinner is the one who claims to be a Christian, and yet would do something to harm the body or spirit of another.

The damage may be done out of selfish interests, or out of misguided good intentions. Either way, the result is the same.

One is driven away…and that’s not the one who needs to fear for their eternal soul.

So how do I know this? God said it. When one looks at the Bible, words on paper, one finds a very different perspective from what is often taught by people. Clear the air of complicated prose about damnation, and read the words of Jesus. Among many teachers of God’s law, Jesus was not a popular fella. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them,” the teachers muttered.

In response to that, Jesus told four stories. Stories of ones who had been lost from the fold, missing for some time, caught up in wild living, or consumed by the love of money. In these stories, Jesus portrays God as He is—One who understands the ways of the world, and does whatever it takes to rescue the lost ones. No condemnation from God—He rejoices at the return of the ones He loves.

Which is to say, everyone.

Those who considered themselves experts on God sneered at this perspective. What Jesus said in response to them still holds true today, for anyone who turns the name of God into a three-letter-word.

“You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”

Those of us who call ourselves Christians, and those of us who have been hurt by ones claiming that name, all need to remember this.

God Himself is really a four-letter-word.

Love.

 

Night of Stars

 

Night deepens. The world sleeps in quietude. Balmy air moves softly–carries the gentle sound of waves touching the shore somewhere beyond.

Humanity stands in the silence, and reaches outward. Soul yearning for what is as deep and real without as what is within. Yearning for purpose, explanation, identity.

Eyes are drawn to the night sky.

The panoply of sky answers in return.

The Pleiades sparkle with ephemeral grace. Sisters, blue diamond jewels on black velvet. A string of precious gems, the garland of queens. Glowing with the ageless wisdom of forever, the peace of eternity. Quiet eyes shining bright with secrets unknown. Hung in the sky as a reminder of the innate beauty of femininity; the inheritance of royalty as daughters of Creation’s King. Beauty to be worn with exultation and fearless joy. Placed in the universe to shine, to glow from the light within. A priceless gift to be treasured by any to whom it is entrusted.

Orion watches over them in the towering night sky. Heroic symbol of manhood, kinetic with action, purest depiction of strength. A very Son of God. The imprint of the Creator is his form. The most beautiful mysteries of the universe dwell within him, shine from him. Expressing hidden fathoms of knowledge, awaiting discovery. His shape spreads across the panoply of sky like that of a man mountain. Overwhelming beside the delicacy of the string of sisters. Yet armed as protector. Strength that rules the night; nobility and kingship that evoke admiration. Honor that saves.

Painted into the canvas of the night by the hand of God. Knowing that yearning within the human soul would draw the eyes upward. Aeons before the question was asked, God answered with stars. Here is the identity of humanity. Grace and strength. Beauty and mystery. Wisdom and knowledge. Thou art made from the stuff of stars. See thy face in the rapture of the heavens, and know that it was painted by the hand that ignited suns at time’s birth.

Know that you are holy.

And your inheritance is as the sons and daughters of Heaven’s King.

 

Bound to Overcome

I’ve had a lot going on in my life, thoughts, and goals just over the past couple of weeks. Not much would show on the surface—but between my ears and behind my eyes, the world is a different place. Maybe because I’m different inside. I know it’s been building for some months now—like the Lord is putting together the puzzle pieces of my life, one day at a time.

This is something I’ve been hoping for, aiming towards, for most of my life. I had an epiphany at age 17, suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my career and life, and started working towards that. A few years (ahem, be polite, don’t run over to my About page) and several setbacks later, I had not progressed very far past those goals. Make that “visibly.” Between the ears and behind the eyes, the world was quite different. But looking at my life from the outside, at a casual glance, not much of that showed through.

For the majority of my young adult years, I lived most of my life inside my head, between my ears, and within a few walls. I was a homeschooled highschooler (personal choice). When I graduated, I was tested at a college level, so I chose to postpone college and dive into the dreams I couldn’t wait to dig at. I spent the next four years living at home with my family, attending business seminars, reading voraciously, and pursuing an advanced art education through studying others’ works and writings. In other words, I homeschooled myself through college, after all.

In the meantime, I was writing. Writing fiction novels and graphic novel scripts. I was drawing, drawing like crazy throughout my days. Doing character design for my graphic novel series, studying comic book publishers so I would know the one I wanted to plug it to. I had my sights set on the independents, because keeping my rights was important to me–I wasn’t writing for the present, I was building the foundation of a future. So I could wait a little, sacrificing present income opportunities in order to invest in a bigger future. For that “income,” I started my own Amway business and did freelance artwork, to tide me over while I wrote. How did that go? Well, let me just say I’m grateful my family let me live at home.

Some of my lack of success was caused by the fact that I was incredibly shy and introverted, trying to build a career in very extroverted fields. But I had that dream—I thrived on inspiration, and let it fuel me forward, even when the shyness made it almost painful to do so. As I look back now on the person I was then, I wonder if I could have made it work, despite my weaknesses? But at the time, I didn’t get the chance.

During my teens and early twenties, my family and I spent ten years as caregivers for my grandparents. My grandmother had dementia, and eventually forgot who we were. My grandfather died unexpectedly from a sudden onset of cancer. There were other hard situations we were overcoming as a family then, too. I learned many things, and grew a lot between the ears, behind the eyes, in those years—things that would never show up in my resume or bank account. They delayed my dreams. But they made me stronger, bolder. Partially because, once you’ve been hurt in certain ways, you stop being afraid of certain things. You lose some sense of self-preservation…you kind of don’t care what happens to you. So you get braver, and bolder.

I moved on with my family (my choice, turned down a graphic design job to do it). I looked at life as a new opportunity—I felt set free from the hurts of the past, and felt I could finally begin achieving my goals for the future. But anyone who thinks they can emerge from an emotionally abusive situation and hit the ground running is deluding themselves. It took a month-long bout with pneumonia and a dance with a nervous breakdown to teach me that.

And yet…I came away from those days, and emerged into a patch of brighter light. Suddenly I was free to return to my dream, and I did, with my whole heart. Back to the writing, back to the drawing. Back to the quibbling freelance work to bring in a bit of income while I lived with my patient family, too; but back to filling my days with creativity and excitement, and plans for a big future.

Enter carbon monoxide poisoning.

This was a setback that not only invaded its presence upon my goal plan, and delayed my dreams yet again; this monster literally stripped me of the ability to achieve my dreams. I forgot my stories. I lost my words. My hands forgot their skill and learned a new weakness, a new tremor that would forever mar my drawing. I was one year away from publishing a fiction novel and was beginning to draw the final draft of a graphic novel when I had to stop, and teach myself how to write and draw all over again.

Starting all over, yet again. When obstacles keep blocking your pathway, over and over, and you have to stop, and start, and stop again, you have a tendency to get tired. When you keep falling face-first into the mud, it gets very hard to see the way ahead. Dreams and faith and hope will carry you far, through many hard times…but Discouragement can be a towering monster. It can overshadow everything. When things get so very dark, the light seems to fade away, and you begin to feel that the darkness is all there is, all there ever will be anymore.

Yet the light is still there—the light of dreams, and hope, and faith. It’s just being obscured for the time being. Somehow, someway, you have to climb up out of the mire and walk past that beast of Discouragement. It’s the only way to see light again. Oh, it tries to walk with you, mark my words—does its very best to keep blocking the light. For me, I actually began doubting the dreams I had held for so many years. I began to doubt the worth of what was between my ears, behind my eyes. And that’s a tough situation, because that was all that I had left in me. Without the dreams? To my eyes, if the dreams weren’t real, then I was nothing.

Enter God.

Not that He wasn’t there the whole time. Until I stand before Him at the end of this life, I probably will not understand the whole meaning behind everything that is in my past. I see glimmers, I get a few things; but some of the “whys” escape me. Somehow I’ve managed to cling to faith through it all. But then again I wonder—is it really so hard to cling to One who is gripping you in an embrace that will never let you go? He’s been there with me the whole time. And now, just when I felt like I couldn’t pick my face up out of the mud one more time, and would lie there and drown in darkness…it’s as if He’s saying, “Let’s turn the lights on.”

I can’t explain it. I don’t understand it. Something has changed. Maybe it’s me. Yes, I’ve been working…imagine trying to scale a sheer mountainside by only using your fingernails. Yeah, that’s how I’ve been working the past couple years. So yes, I have all those years of work that must have been building to something. But they never led anywhere, to my thinking.

Until now. Something has changed. Something is different. Between my ears, behind my eyes, it’s been a long journey. It’s been…violating. It doesn’t feel like there’s much of anything left of me inside…just numbness, blankness, tears. Tears that flow easily at times. And fear…the inheritance of so many years of living life in the shadow. Fear that crouches and waits for the merest weakness to show within me…so that it can snatch my new life away from me. And fear upon fear, I am afraid that it has the power to do so.

But then I realize…there are arms around me. Strong, mighty, powerful arms. There is a vengeful love washing over me, shielding me, forgiving me the weaknesses that make me despise myself. Someone is holding me fiercely, saying the He is carrying me on through. Past the mire that threatens to envelop and smother me. Past the dark beast that wants to claim me. Carrying me forward to that beautiful light, which has been there waiting for me all along. He’s taking the emptiness between my ears, behind my eyes, and filling it with glorious things that I never dared to dream of, and can hardly comprehend. The dreams of my future.

And something is telling me that my future, at very long last, is here.

I’m sorry for the long blog post…but I think I’m moving forward on a new journey. And I must have needed to travel light.

What Am I Thinking?

I’m new to Twitter—only discovered it last month—but already I’m realizing what an amazing tool it is.  Not only to help me meet interesting people, or keep in better touch with the ones I already know; not only to expand my realization of the world and current events, or to give me an outlet for burning off some of the plethora of minutiae-related thoughts that skitter through my brain every day. 

Not only all that, but one of the best things about Twitter is that…it…um…well, hm. 

What was my point again?  I’m fighting this cold tooth and nail, but it seized my thoughts.  Oh, wait—yes.

One of the best parts of Twitter is being able to track my thinking.

Many thoughts run through my head on a minute-by-minute basis. The sunshine sure does look pretty today, makes me feel brighter inside. I hope @susanreynolds is doing well, my heart is heavy for her but my faith is in the Lord’s healing power. I’ve seen Him do as much for others I know. Thank heavens for peanut butter, it really gives me a boost…and the two heels of bread aren’t really so bad together, it makes it kind of like a sweet roll. Oooh, Tree 63′s playing “Look What You’ve Done,” it’s soooo totally awesome. Those lyrics—I wonder that so often myself. What a pretty melody. Okay, I really need to get working on the book—I need a final target date by February, and that’s a lot closer than it seems. Been a couple months since I sat down and wrestled with it, since I’ve been working on the art and charity things. Wondering how I should start—I want to do a word count and recap, but feeling the pressure, wonder if I should fire in with writing first off? No, recap would be better, probably—get a big look at it, “see” it all at once—where it should go, how it should be—I remember working on my sci-fi book five years ago, just being able to “see” the entire thing all at once…not that I knew what all was going to happen, since ideas came as I worked along; but I could see it. It was clear. No matter how I try to push myself to be normal, sometimes I just wake up and realize what it’s like to have brain damage…it’s not the same as it used to be. It’s all furry in my head…I have to squint to see the stories now. LOL, I need brain glasses. Ah, that would be coffee. Coffee’s here, bless my Mom for bringing it in. Love my family—every one of them. But Lord, I wonder when I’ll find “HIM” and we can start a family of our own. I just know my brain will be better, come that day…not being unrealistic here, I just know. There’s something about happiness that makes everything clear. You can think with your heart, not your grey matter. I probably shouldn’t start thinking about that…I get too sobby. But it’s my heart, what should I do, lock it inside so that it can’t feel anything? Numb it like my nerves after the CO poisoning? I get into that habit sometimes…I’m so used to trying to control wild emotional swings after CO, that “emotion” has become something like “headache.” When you get a headache, you take something to make it go away. My body does the same thing with my emotions nowadays. The minute I start feeling something in my soul, my instinct wants to quickly “take an aspirin,” so to speak, to make it go away. Be strong. Steel the heart. Calm down. Think of something else. By all means don’t break down. But heartfelt longings aren’t the same thing as a mood swing. You’re supposed to feel, you know. You need to. So okay, back to square one: Lord, how do I make my day mean something? How do I not wind up wasting time bobbling around aimlessly…okay, aimlessly, that struck a chord. Write the goals down…keep following the plan. “This is my desire, to go deeper into You,” Tree 63 is singing right now, this very moment. “I am always in your heart. I am not my own.” Whoa, Twitter update, @susanreynolds is out of surgery and in recovery…bless the Lord, Hallelujah, as Tree 63 happens to be singing right now. Oh, no, don’t sing A Million Lights right now…Lord. Sob fest. No, wait, don’t turn off the heart, right?? Just grab a Kleenex. Sigh. Yeah, I knew it, crying. Blink, gulp, take deep breath. What was I thinking again? Oh, yes—oh, that melody is so pretty—I was thinking of Twitter. I read through my month’s worth of—Twitter update, @hackerjay, my baby bro, 6-foot-some-odd hunk of guy, but all baby brother to me. :-);-) Leaving work now, it sounds like he has Christmas Vacation. We had Christmas at Thanksgiving with him—wondering what he’ll be doing for Christmas Day? Gotta remember to ask. If not for IM and Twitter, I’d never know what’s going on with my siblings. :-):-) Ah, and there’s @war2d2, other younger brother, chiming in with “Merry Christmahanukkwanzaka everybody.” hehee. We’ll see him and his wife right after Christmas…oh, dang, I still have to get presents for them. Twitter update—good news about @susanreynolds! Praising the Lord wholeheartedly for that. Okay, back to the thought of Twitter…except I just thought of my book….man, I need to get going on that. I just know it will flow when I sit down and do it…get over that hurdle of facing it. Always does. Man, that will be exciting when it’s done! Will I even know what to do with myself when it is??? Uh…yeah…yes, I will. :-);-) Good Lord, there’s so much to do….writing, website, promotion…okay, yes, that voice inside just said “and WORKING,” bless it. :-):-) That means, GET BACK TO WORK RIGHT NOW. Okay, that reminds me what I was posting about to start with…Twitter gives me a way to track my thoughts in print so I can see what I need to change to make better use of my time, and make improvements in my life. Moment by moment, thought by thought, it’s hard to see the big picture. But when all those thoughts and moments are strung together, they weave a pattern and begin to make some sense. It’s not really my pattern…the Lord has a plan that He’s making. I can’t see it minute by minute…well, that’s not true, yes I can. I know the visions He’s given me for what’s in store for my future…I get too focused on my own failings and weaknesses, and don’t see that He can handle it, He can make something beautiful out of my screw-ups…I just need to keep moving, to work at it. But then I get so afraid…I feel so helpless. I don’t know where to go or what to do…

 

And that’s when all the words stop.

 

And He just embraces me in His love.

 

And He tells me everything’s going to be all right.

 

I’ll see it when it gets here. Like Tree 63 is singing: “Something invisible has become so beautiful.” And it will be more beautiful than I can possibly imagine.

So now I’m going to get back to work. And I’ll start thinking again.

 

But a little more quietly now.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.