ReThinking Lent – Day 36: Beloved

 

 

This one was easy….especially in light of the fact that just last week, my beloved and I celebrated 20 years of marriage.

Firefly Festival, 2012 © Stephanie L Brown

 

The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.”
My beloved is mine, and I am his;
he grazes among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
or a young stag on cleft mountains.
(Song of Solomon 2:8-17 ESV)

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ReThinking Lent – Day 35: Dream

I’m a few days behind.  I struggled with the word dream on Tuesday.  Nothing was coming to me.  Nothing was inspiring me.  Later that day, my husband and I received terrible news that one of our closest friends had died suddenly.

That night, as I drifted in and out of fitful sleep, a verse from Job just kept running through my mind:

…the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD… (JOB 1:21)

I dreamed that when I woke up in the morning and went downstairs, everything was gone.  All of our furniture and pictures on the walls….all of it.  It was just a blank slate of a house.

I don’t know what any of it really means.  I just know that our friend is gone and it feels empty.  Just like the house in my dream.

ReThinking Lent – Day 29: Water

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary.  20 years.  It’s so hard to believe.  One the one hand, it seems to have gone by so quickly.  On the other, I’ve been with this man for nearly half of my life.  I’ve lived with him longer than I lived with either one of my parents combined.

It was March 12, 1993 and I had just finished up my internship in San Francisco.  Lloyd flew down and we were going to drive back to Washington state together the next day.  He got off the plane with nothing but a bouquet of flowers in his hand and a toothbrush in his pocket and said, “Let’s go get married”.  So, we did.

If you’ve known us for any length of time, you know that we have a reputation for being impetuous.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called a family member or friend and said, “We’re moving!”  In fact, it’s become kind of a joke that if you write our address down, you’d best do it in pencil.  The other day, we were watching one of those DIY shows and somebody was talking about their “dream home”.  I told Lloyd that I don’t understand that concept (not that it’s bad).  I have just never had dreams about houses.  They are just buildings to me.

But the truth is, I never had dreams of  getting married and having kids either.  Oh, there were a couple of times that I tried writing my name with that guy’s last name attached, but it never sounded right and certainly never felt the way I thought it should have.  You see, I had this crazy notion that love was forever.  And, I just hadn’t ever really seen that happen in the lives of the people around me.  Except for my grandparents.  I remember the way my grandfather looked at my grandmother. I remember how he used to pat her butt and she would slap it away saying “Franklin!”, as she looked at me and my cousin and we pretended to be grossed out.  I wanted THAT.  I wanted a man that looked at me and treated me the way that my grandfather looked at and treated my grandmother.  Now that I am an adult, I know that my grandparents marriage wasn’t perfect — far from it, actually.  But, I think I’m in awe of it even more now.  They stuck it out through rough times.  Despite their shortcomings and missteps, they loved each other with an everlasting love.  And everyone around them knew it.

When I met Lloyd, I knew instantly that this was the person I wanted to spend my life with.  I can’t explain it.  It’s one of those cases of “when you know, you know”.   After our first “date” (which wasn’t really a date, but we were together at the same time and place and got there in the same car), I came home and told my roommate that I’d found the man I was going to marry.  She told me she thought that was fabulous but could I please call my boyfriend who had been calling every 10 minutes for the past 2 hours and let him know, too.

And yet, despite my certainty, we did not begin dating right away.  It was several months before we became a couple.  So, as it turns out, we were not all that impetuous after-all.  😉

Now, you might be asking yourself what this has to do with water.  Well, it wasn’t actually even supposed to be my Lenten post.  But, I looked up the meaning of impetuous this morning and this is what Dictionary.com had to say:

im·pet·u·ous / imˈpechoōəs/

• adj. acting or done quickly and without thought or care: her friend was headstrong and impetuous.

•  moving forcefully or rapidly: an impetuous but controlled flow of water.

Looking back, I don’t think we approached our marriage without thought or care.  Yes, it was done quickly, but it was something we had talked about for a long time (well, as long as you can talk about it when you’ve known each other just over a year).  Our families might say that it was done without care.  And, I admit that their hurt feelings were justified.  But, despite the fact that we were too young and too poor to get married, this was a guy that looked at me the way my grandfather looked and my grandmother.  And, I didn’t want to waste a moment not being with him.

As we’ve moved rapidly and sometimes forcefully through the last 20 years, our vows have been tested as we have faced the kind of trials that even the strongest marriages can’t endure.  And every year, as we celebrate this day, I think that there is no way that I could love this man any more than I do today. But, I do.  And, I believe that it’s because God has been our controlling force — not in a way that has left us without choices, but in a way that has kept us on our path — the path He has for us.


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For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

(Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

ReThinking Lent – Day 27: Happy

I struggled with yesterday’s word, happy.  My husband’s beloved uncle passed away after a long illness.  It just wasn’t a happy day.   Yes, we can all say that we are relieved that he is no longer suffering — and it’s true…we are — it’s still sad that he is gone.   Jerry was known for his smile and infectious laugh.  As I watched his siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews post their remembrances and pictures on Facebook yesterday, it was definitely a common theme.

Last night, as we had dinner together, we talked about Uncle Jerry to our son.  He had met him before but did not know him very well.  My husband told him about the person that he knew and loved dearly.  And, as I sat listening to stories that I’ve heard before, it hit me that without Uncle Jerry’s presence in Lloyd’s life, it’s unlikely that any of us would have been sitting around that table last night.

I did not get to spend as much time with Jerry as I would have liked.  But, here’s what I know:  He loved Jesus and he loved his family.  And, he was happy.

Tom Thomas, left; Jerry McCarthy, right.

Tom Thomas, left; Jerry McCarthy, right.
© Lloyd D. Brown 2007

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
(Psalm 84:5 ESV)

ReThinking Lent – Day 26: Ate

I’m a few days behind, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Day 26.

Our family attended Soma Communities in Tacoma, WA for several years.  We were blessed to be under the teaching of the amazing elders there and learned so much during our time with them.  I have been having a hard time putting into words their philosophy on eating and recreating as a gospel rhythm without plagiarizing them, so I’m just going to copy and paste what they have to say about it here.  They do a much better job than I could anyway.   It has completely changed my family’s view on what it means to eat a meal together.

We regularly eat meals with others to invite them into the community of God

Meals are a daily reminder of our common need for God and his faithfulness to provide both physically and spiritually. Our hunger and thirst remind us that we are not self-sufficient.  We have a need for food and water that must be met outside of ourselves. This physical need points our hearts to deeper spiritual needs–we have a hunger for intimacy, satisfaction, reconciliation, and more that can only truly be met by Jesus. He called himself both the Bread of Life and the Living Water–consuming him, taking him into you, means there’s a sense in which we will never be hungry or thirsty again.

Jesus called us to remember him and his sacrifice for us through a meal. When we eat together, we commune around this truth. We regularly eat meals with those not in our immediate family or circle of close friends, discipling them toward a life of dependence on God.

In the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, they had to make a decision of faith everytime they ate food.  Will we choose to trust God or choose our own way? God intended for them to face this choice, to exercise faith in him many times everyday–that opportunity to choose God was part of the goodness of the garden of Eden.

So as we eat meals many times a day, there are opportunities not only to thank God for our food but to thank him for Jesus and to commune with him, opportunities to let faith in Jesus affect everyday life.  There are few things we do more often and regularly than eating.  As we allow the gospel to change how we eat, the gospel breaks into everyday life and is proclaimed to those around us.

~Soma, Tacoma

 

Christmas, 2012© stephanie l brown

Christmas, 2012
© stephanie l brown

 

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:46-47 (NIV)