Sunday, October 30, 2011


I was awake at 3:30 this morning helping my littlest one untwist the blankets from his legs and resettle. On my way back to bed, I stopped and looked out the window to see if it happened to be snowing. The picnic table on the deck looked a little brighter than usual in the darkness. Was it just frost? I turned on the porch light – it was snowing!

I’ve been impatient for the snow ever since the last of the leaves blew out of our trees here. I love the snow. I got that from my dad. I married a man who loves the snow and we have children who love the snow. It’s a good thing I live in Alaska.

A few years ago, I found a children’s book by a man who has since become one of my favorite writers: Uri Shulevitz. The book is titled, “Snow” (which is why I picked it up) and honestly, I would quote the entire book right here if that wasn’t illegal in about three different ways. But I will tell you the story, because if you’re even a little bit interested, you’ll catch a glimpse of God as He passes through it.

The story starts with a grey day – grey skies over grey rooftops in a grey city. But one tiny snowflake falls and a boy out for a walk with his dog sees it flutter to the ground. “Snow!” he declares. Passersby on the street and his family at home all greet his exuberant announcement with squashing skepticism. It is, after all, only one tiny snowflake. And then there are two tiny snowflakes, but they melt when they land. The TV and the radio both have pronounced that there will be no snow. And then, my favorite part:

But snowflakes don't listen to radio,
snowflakes don't watch television.
All snowflakes know
is snow, snow, and snow.

And the story goes on as the snowflakes continue to multiply until the streets, the rooftops and the skeptics are all covered with snow and the grey city becomes a glittering white fairyland.

I have wondered, if I had been among the grownups passing by the boy as he looked up at a seemingly empty sky and shouted, “Snow!” would I have been one of the skeptics? With all my heart, I hope not. With all my heart, I want to live by faith and not by the grey that can be so much easier to see.

The Apostle Paul understood how much perspective can limit or reveal the colors that are there for those who will look. He was under house arrest in Rome when he wrote the letter we now know as the Bible’s Book of Colossians. Despite his confinement, he urged the Christians of Colosse to revel in the freedom God had paid such a high price to give them. He wanted them to stop listening to the rule-makers and the naysayers and start living by the faith that had opened their eyes to real life in the first place. Paul wrote,

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. (Colossians 3:1-2, The Message, emphasis mine)

It’s all about perspective.
I want the birds-eye view that comes through the lens of faith.

As I write this, the snow has stopped falling. The sun has burned a hole through the clouds and is pouring out onto the whiteness below. I would have liked a few more inches to fall. But if I look toward the east, I see some hint of dark skies and maybe the potential for more snow. I’ll hold out for it, snow-lover that I am.

Ambushed by a God who sometimes hides in a children's book,

(Photos from this afternoon's walk)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Swans at Dawn

I've been ambushed. Set up. Traps were laid and I walked right into them.

I was in one of those seasons of life when you feel like a sponge that’s been wrung out. And then wrung out again. And then wrung out one more time before it gets set out in the sun to bake into a dirty, hard, crumbly square.

And then…I took the bait.

I walked past a window one morning and the light on the trees outside was irresistible. I grabbed my camera, shoved my feet into my boots, yelled goodbye to my husband and children having breakfast and ran out the door and down to the river. My plan was to take some pictures of the sunrise over the water, but as I approached the boat launch, I saw them - Trumpeter Swans. Dozens and dozens of them – maybe as many as 50 or 60!

Trumpeter Swans are the largest bird in North America and are considered by some to be the largest waterfowl in the world. They’re huge. A very large male can have a wingspan of almost 10 feet. They’re graceful and majestic, and they’re known in life and lore as the symbol of loyalty and fidelity. They mate for life.

When I reached the water’s edge and could hear them flapping and splashing and clop-clopping their bills, it took my breath away. I knew it was God who had lured me out into the early morning frost, and He’d brought the swans to the boat launch (I’d been chasing them up and down the river for a week or more, but they always stayed out of reach of my camera).

He set me up!

I stood as deep as I dared in the muddy river’s edge, trying to get closer without filling my boots, and I drank. My dry sponge soaked up a pink and gold sky and gleaming white bird-majesty and the sounds of their final feasts before the long flight south. And I soaked up the smile on the face of the One who made it all.

I'd been ambushed by God.

There is not much meditation in my days. My days right now are full of frogs (rubber ones now that the real ones have vanished from the yard) and dirt, phonics, science experiments, laundry, diapers. I have two small boys. My nights are short and interrupted. Sometimes I don’t have the option to take an hour to sit in silence with God until my ears finally let go of the day’s noise and pick up His voice. Sometimes I do have the time, but not the inclination. Either way, it’s good – no it’s a lifesaver – to know that He is The Pursuer (and that, by the way, is what grace is).

Have you ever seen something so beautiful that it made you want to cry? You just walked into a God Ambush. Have you ever heard music that spoke to your very bones and shouted to them, “DANCE!”? Yep. It was a set-up. When the evening light slants just-so and you feel that strange homesick feeling, it’s Him. He’s calling to you. The God who made it all, who knows the secret of gravity, who knows the song the stars sing and who teaches the birds their path south and then north again – that God – He is after you. Pursuing you. Wants to talk to you and listen to you and sometimes even just to sit silently with you. He loves you.

The Song of Songs begins with a woman searching for the Love of Her Life. She just wants to be near him:

(Bride) Tell me where you're working—I love you so much—Tell me where you're tending your flocks,where you let them rest at noontime.Why should I be the one left out,outside the orbit of your tender care?

And that Groom, that man who loves her, he tells her not to worry, he’s making plans for them to be together:

(Bridegroom) If you can't find me, loveliest of all women,it's all right. Stay with your flocks.Lead your lambs to good pasture.Stay with your shepherd neighbors.…I'm making jewelry for you, gold and silver jewelrythat will mark and accent your beauty.(Excerpted from the Song of Songs, chapter 1, The Message)

I went out again the next morning to find the swans. I got up early and went to see if He’d bring the swans to river’s edge again so we could enjoy them together. And what did I find when I got to the water? A moose. A big, beautiful bull moose, standing in the middle of the river, drinking. He looked right at me and was unconcerned. Maybe he saw our Maker standing next to me.

Swans at dawn and moose in the morning.
There’s an ambush lying in wait somewhere with your name on it.
Are you on the lookout?
When you find yourself there, enjoy!

Ambushed by God,