Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Looks Dead...



Has your winter been harsh? 

I think there are many of us in the U.S. that can agree that this last winter was pretty stinky. Whether you live in the east, south, north or west, we all saw weather conditions that just didn’t seem right.

Recently a writer friend challenged me to describe my winter here in Colorado. Words such as bitter, desolate, never-ending, bleak, dark, and stark came to mind. 

Those words seemed flat, so I tried to include more descriptive words to add some flavor. Freezing, ferocious, soaked, unyielding, gloomy, dismal and forsaken seemed about right.

“Wait,” she said, “those sound more like words of mourning than words of winter.”

“Is there a difference?” 

“You tell me,” she answered.

Little did I know how she was leading me to see how my winter season was really the winter I was feeling in my heart after losing my mom.

Life changes.

April 1st is the time to begin pruning back the dead stems of the rose bushes in Colorado. So I headed out to clean out my front garden and clip off all the brown withered stalks of my roses as well as clean out the dead foliage of my lilies and peonies. 

Snipping away I found new rose shoots appearing many places. Some were at the bottom of the bush, some along what looked like dead branches. It was a reminder to me that not everything that looks dead remains that way. 

Much like me. What a tough winter it has been. My mom died on December 21st, the first day of the season of winter and my heart entered a desolate time of its own. Since then the struggle to just move ahead has been challenging at times. But with the onset of spring, I remember that there is new life. New life for my mom and the promise of new life for me.

Over the past couple months I have been asked to talk with people about science and faith and how they intertwine. Getting to share my passion has been a good distraction for me. Then last week when I was thanking our pastor for recommending me yet again for the same topic, he said, “Well, it is your ministry.”

I was totally taken back by that statement. My ministry…

I never really thought about it like that. An interest, yes. A passion, of course. But a ministry? Huh. 

Then I started pruning those thorny bushes out front and saw those new shoots. It was a reminder that though winter this year was the roughest I’ve ever seen, new promise is revealed. Yes, I need to trim away the dead parts of me…the hurt, the pain, and the consumption of chocolate (because all the chocolate in the world won’t bring my mom back), there are still parts of me that come back anew. 

I shared so many things with my mom. And I thought the science and faith passion we shared was one of those dead branches that needed to be pruned back, lost forever. But no. What looks dead does not always remain that way. 

What an appropriate lesson for me to learn this week as we enter the holiest time of the year, the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. What looks dead WILL NOT remain dead. 

Amen. 


I am grateful to the Lord for such a visual reminder in nature…in science.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

God is Everywhere





I remember learning as child that God was everywhere. Wrapping my head around such an idea at a young age was pretty impossible, especially since children demand everything to be  tangible. I sat for hours trying to figure out how God was in the closet and if He was, why he didn’t get rid of the monsters that I just knew were lurking in there. 

Even at school we talked about it. I had one friend who went from flower to flower, bending down, squinting one eye shut and staring with the other asking, “God, are you in there?” From the playground we’d watch passing cars from behind the chain-linked fence, and once in a while someone would say, “Maybe God’s in that one.”

It was a contemplation that we just couldn’t wrap our heads around. Until one day. In December. Maybe it was because we were so cold that our brains were shivering all the ideas together, or that we were learning about the birth of Jesus, but one friend, Julie said, “The reason God is everywhere is because the whole world is in His tummy.” Aha! Finally. Something that made sense. We all took to drawing pictures of an old man with an earth smack dab in the middle of his abdomen. 

I know that I breathed easier that day. I could finally put that mystery to bed. Later I asked Julie how she had been so brilliant in her conclusion (we were so smart I’m sure I used those exact words…) and she just looked at me and said, “Well, if your mommy can carry a baby in her tummy, why can’t God carry all of us in His?” (see my footnote.)

Catechism 101. Done. 

I look at that today and think, “Wow, Julie, you weren’t that far off.” Why?

1.      Genesis 1:27 says that we are made in God’s image. If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know that I take that verse very seriously and I have many takes on it. I will be expanding on some of those very soon, but for now I’ll give you one example. Deep down in the very depths of us, in our DNA, amino acids come together in three’s called codons, and those three’s combine with each other to define our genetic makeup. Our God is Trinitarian, so at the very center of our creation—we mirror Him.
 2.    The one thing we need to survive in this world is water. Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water, and two-thirds of the human body is water. Water aids in cell division and generation as well as every aspect of our being. It hydrates us more profoundly that we realize. And a water molecule contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, reflecting once again the Trinity—Our God.
3.      Every living thing needs water to survive and everything in the world was formed by water. We read in Genesis 1 that water was there AT creation (vs 2). And Genesis 1:9 tells us that water receded to form land. We know from science about glaciers and even how rushing rivers formed land masses such as the Grand Canyon. Water was instrumental in God’s creating. And it still is. (Funny, but with all the talk about the differences in science and faith, we can’t seem to see they fit perfectly together as they did during creation.)
4.      God carries us each and every day, just like a pregnant woman. Sometimes we think to ask for His presence, sometimes we don’t, but just because we don’t ask doesn’t mean He’s not there.

So now in my contemplation I see that Julie was right. God is bigger than us. He is bigger than all of creation. And yet, He takes the time to be with each of us, individually, and in our own unique way. 

I go back to Julie’s image of my pregnant mom. How much more would we experience God’s love if we imagined Him caring for us as loving mother cares for her unborn child? Completely, unconditionally, and continually. Hmmm. Just take 3 seconds and picture that. Ahhh…




Footnote: It seemed my mom was always pregnant, but then again I am the oldest of eight kids. In reality she pretty much was. She told me once that if felt like it too! And to be honest, that’s how I picked her out of a crowd as a child. I looked for women, then scanned for the amazing red hair, then I looked to see if the woman was pregnant. Bingo! Worked every time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pain with a Purpose



It’s been a while. I know. 

And so much has happened. Too much for a single post. 

I lost my mom in December. December 21st at 7am to be exact. While my parent’s clock chimed the Ave Maria, my mom breathed her last here on earth. And it has been hard. 

Not for her though, she finished her task, her journey, and she is receiving her reward. But for the rest of us who remain, there’s been a hole. To fill that emptiness seemed wrong and for a long time I wanted it there…I needed that void there. I just didn’t know it was in the wrong place. 
 
Many of my friends have told me that there is this “club” for those who have lost a parent. It’s not one they knew they joined until it happened, but it’s a club that welcomes everyone because the rest of the members know what that chasm feels like. 

My mother was very patient with me when I would share any new found science or faith tidbit that I thought was important. I’d talk through my ideas until they were well formed and sometimes those discussions helped mold my posts. 

There was one science idea that had special meaning to her. You can read it here, but to summarize, it was the examination of research that showed from the time that a baby is conceived in a mother’s womb, the forming human sends signals to the mother in the manner of lymphocytes that tell the mother not to expel this new life. Those lymphocytes are sent continually during pregnancy and attach to the mother’s nervous system. Over thirty years later those lymphocytes are still found in the mother—same place—unchanged. 

My mother went through thirteen pregnancies. She had eight children who remained on earth and five that preceded her to heaven. We all knew they would be there to greet her and thank her for the gift of life, no matter how short it was on earth. We all felt it would be a wonderful homecoming for her, because she never forgot them while she was here in this life. 

That lymphocyte science that I shared with her had special meaning. It meant that it was okay to feel nervous when her children left the nest. It was okay to feel angst when they did things that may hurt them in the future. And it was okay to feel that loss and pain of those who never got the chance to be here on earth.

That pain and loss was real. It was not imaginary. It was not all in her head or her heart. It was actually a physical part of her. Each child, with their own unique footprint of DNA was attached to her nervous system and with that piece of God’s plan she was connected to them forever. 

So what of that hole that I have? I realize now that it is real as well. The science is obvious…her DNA meshed with my dad’s to make me. It’s not just the old age spots that I now see on my hands that I inherited from her or the cheekbones and smile that mirror hers. It’s the connection that we will always share. The physical connection of the DNA she shared with me that binds us and that no one can take that away. For me, there is a comfort beyond all words to know that. It’s a personal consolation. 



Now that I understand that chasm, I understand longing for home even more than I did before. My steps are more determined, my choices are more meaningful and my days make more sense. Even in her physical absence, my mother guides me. She properly placed that hole where it belonged…a longing for the heavenly home that Christ prepares for us all. 

I’m not saying the hole doesn’t hurt, it does. But it’s a pain with a purpose…the perseverance to get Home.

(That's my mom giving me my first birthday cake.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Come to Me


To be urged on. Called to. Beckoned…


Come to me.


We all long for that. To be wanted. To be needed. To be loved.

Sometimes we misplace that desire, finding diversions to fulfill that yearning. Those diversions feel safe for a while. Comfortable. But inevitably what is transitory, slips from our grasp. 

We search for meaning. 

That’s when we hear it.

Come to me…

Our heart skips a beat. There is a lump deep in our throat. Our breath is taken away. We want to answer.

Sometimes we hear the calling in a gentle breeze. We see it in the breathtaking beauty of the mountains. We feel it as we watch the tide ebb and flow. We smell it in the powerful scent of a gardenia. We taste it in the first sip of morning coffee. 

We know the call. We dream about it. But do we appreciate where it comes from?

When we are in awe of the stars at night, do we recognize the inexhaustible voice?

Do we see the ever renewable nature and understand where it comes from? 

Each moment is a gift. Each second 2.6 million red blood cells are manufactured in your bone marrow. That means that 3 billion base pairs in each cell are copied to the tune of 2.6 million times each second. That is an immeasurable present. That is an unfathomable event. And yet it happens each second of every day. 

I can appreciate the science of this intellectually. I can comprehend the body’s ability to do this academically. But when I try to understand why, if I don’t have an inkling that something else is out there—something beyond me—then I cease to imagine. It doesn’t make sense. No amount of evolution could have happened in the time earth has been here to accomplish such a task.

I’m not a strict Creationist either. I think there’s something else, something that makes sense with the realm of science and nature that explains it. And I think that eventually our minds will grasp that. But not yet. 

Why? 

Because we refuse the call.

Just as we wrestle with how gravity fits in with the other natural forces, we wrestle with the understanding of our physical being. Why? Because ultimately we all know that deep within our physical form, we are much more. And that doesn’t make sense.

Why? 

Because we refuse the call…

Come to me. 

There is a balance between science and faith. There is a home for both. The very ideas that are at odds with each other (because of our limitations) are the very concepts that need to be meshed together. If we decide to solve problems looking from Nature’s eyes, from the renewable, Everlasting Eyes, then we might be able to come up with solutions that make sense, that cure cancer, that unravel the depths of depression. 

But if we continue to have a myopic view of nature and pigeon-hole ideas because they are not material and we can’t hold them in our hands, then we will continue to be handicapped. 

So the next time you hear the call…

Come to me…

Follow your heart. 

The Everlasting is trying to teach you something.

Something of great importance. Something eternal. Something of Truth.

Because in the end, there will be no refusal. Your blood cells will stop making copies, your mind will fail and your physical being will cease.  

And you will be left with the call…

Come to me.