A VISITATION FROM LA MUSE INSOMNIAQUE

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By Lisa Huddleston

 

As frequently happens when one becomes of a certain age, I awoke at precisely 2:13 a.m. to find my mind at work and my body unable to rest. I tried meditational breathing, prayer, anchoring thoughts, but all to no avail. And then, as so often is the case, my mind began to write. Here are my offerings to La Muse Insomniaque:

 

 

imagesUNDOING ME

 

Is it possible to unweave this tight cocoon I have so protectively wrapped around myself,

To unspin the trap I have spun,

To carefully tease and pull apart each tensile strand of mirage,

To untangle who I am from whom I have pretended to be,

To awkwardly stretch cramped and aching wings,

To finally inhabit the spacious place into which I have been placed;

Is it possible to undo me?

 

 

And thinking she was finished with her assault, I closed my eyes to rest. But I still could not sleep, and soon discovered she had more to say on the subject (with humble apologies to Oliver Wendell Holmes and E.M. Forster):

 

 

images-2A SPACIOUS PLACE

 

From womb to tomb

The raw fear of hope

Wraps me into smaller, tighter spaces

But my soul and I need more stately mansions in which to dwell

Higher ceilings against which to butt our hard heads

Finally to break through

To a room with a view and

The space in which to stretch our wings

 

 

Finally, I slept. And, yes, I will need a nap.

LEADING THE DANCE

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By Lisa Huddleston

 

girl-dancing-rain_thumb255b2255dThe preacher (not mine) kept declaring that we needed to be a confrontational people. “We must confront the culture!” to support the kind of society that our nation’s founders intended and that, obviously, he believed, God also predestined. The Ten Commandments posted in every classroom. The Lord’s Prayer being said before each day of lessons began. “It’s time for the people of God to take a stand!”

 

And I wondered why it all sounded so wrong. Yes, I believe wholeheartedly that God cares about holiness. I know that our love for Him is revealed in our obedience to Him. But nothing felt right about this smiling preacher’s call to confrontation. In fact, I had trouble looking at him as his grin and his words seemed so at odds that they jarred against my brain.

 

My more liberal friends would say of course it felt wrong, because it was! Who are Christians to think that they hold the market on morality? To whose God should we pray in our preordained schools? Whose belief statements should we post upon our national walls? And, of course, the thinking part of me understands their objections—and frequently agrees. Who made evangelicals the arbitrators of holiness?

 

But it really was more than that. It wasn’t just that it appeared wrong to the culture against which I was being told to rage. It was that it felt as though it was also wrong in the eyes of God.

 

And Sunday morning God told me why that was: We do not know what God’s plan for the future actually looks like. We do know that He has one, and we do believe that it will not be thwarted. But our pictures and His may look absolutely nothing alike.

 

Think of the disciples. Who were they expecting when they found their Messiah? A warrior to overthrow all that was evil in their culture. A hero who would reestablish the order and the power and the legal system of their religion. One who would rebuild the temple in all its glory and authority. Instead—he tore it all down.

 

Peter struggled against this plan and was told to “Get behind me, Satan!” Judas fought God’s agenda and ended up selling his soul to gain what amounted to worse than nothing. All who encountered Jesus just couldn’t get where God was going with this guy, and I fear the same is true with much of the church today.

 

We rail against the culture. We pray for a return to the rules that were once the obvious signs of belief. We grimace and snarl and blog and speak hate through grinning lips—but we just don’t get it. And, in our defense, it is hard to get.

 

God is not who we make Him out to be. In fact, we do not make Him at all. He is the Maker, the Planner, the Only One Who Gets the Whole Picture. And I fear that to rail against the world around us may be in fact to rail against the Planner who is controlling it.

 

Yesterday’s sermon came from Acts 10:1-33. And as I did last week, I would like to share my pastor’s points:

  1. Being religious is not the same as being redeemed.
  2. God is at work in ways, at times, and in hearts you might never have imagined.
  3. Increased understanding follows loving obedience.

 

And to all three, I said, “Aha!”

 

Thank you, God, for clarifying what my soul recognized, but had such trouble articulating. My job is not to confront the culture or to judge the world or to tell others what they should be doing differently. My role is to trust you.

 

To borrow further from Pastor Jim’s sermon, Oswald Chambers said, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”

 

And with that I can wholeheartedly agree. I do not understand the ways of God. The stories I hear and read in the news are not the scenarios I would write if I were the great Planner of history. But I am not. And because I am not, I will trust the One Who Is.

 

I’m not sure if Pastor Jim closed the sermon with these words or if they simply appeared in my journal from my own conclusions, but I need to remember them.

 

Lean in and let God lead. It may not be the dance I expect, but he will not lead me astray.

TABITHA, GET UP!

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Mother and daughter walking arm in arm along trai

By Lisa Huddleston

 

Today’s sermon came from Acts 9:31-43. My pastor’s well-thought and well-taught points were:

  1. Follow Jesus’ example
  2. Depend on Jesus’ power
  3. Point others to Jesus

Clear, to the point, and well-supported by the text.

 

I sat where I usually sit. Comfortably snugged in between my sweet daughter on my left (with her sweet husband to her left) and my equally sweet husband on my right. We all heard the same words, we all read them on our various devices, and we all processed the points that were projected on the screen; however, we did not receive the same message. At least my daughter and I did not.

 

And here is where our paths diverged:

 

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity. In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs.

 

To cut this a little shorter, Peter was nearby so they had him hurry on over to see what he could do. The people figured Jesus had raised the dead, and Peter seemed to be following along in the healing business—maybe there was still time.

 

When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them.

 

And Peter actually did it! Following the good example and in the powerful might of Jesus, Peter told Tabitha to get up, and she did!

 

This became known in Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

 

And that’s where the sermon diverged for my daughter and me. She heard that “nothing can hold God back when He chooses to act.” And those were the very words our pastor spoke, and they were and are very true words. And my daughter is young and has big dreams and sometimes what seem like impossible aspirations, and she left encouraged and inspired and quite full of hope.

 

I, however, am not young, and my dreams have grown smaller and smaller, and I heard these words, “Tabitha served people however she could. She looked them in the eyes, and she sewed clothes for widows and blessed others with her needle and thread.” Okay, that’s actually a paraphrase of Pastor Jim’s words, but it was the gist of what I heard and jotted in my journal. Tiny dreams that still mattered. Sewing clothes for widows whose husbands had been lost at sea and who probably would have worn rags without Tabitha’s caring for them.

 

And both sermons were preached today, and both sermons were true. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

 

 

HIDE AND SEEK

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By Lisa Huddleston

 

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Depression is my hiding place

A dark closet into which I can dive

Sticking bare feet into someone else’s too-big boots

And tucking child body inside the fur-lined coat

That my mother rarely wears

 

They can look for hours

And call and yell my name

While I breathe into that dusty fur

Warming it with hot breath from my open silent mouth

The doors are opened and opened again

Not even one inch of myself is revealed

Making me shake with nervous laughter

 

Knowing I’ll never be found

Knowing I can stump them all

Knowing I can’t stay there forever

 

My stomach will grow empty

My bladder will grow full

My legs will grow tired of standing in those tall boots

My mother’s voice will grow angry and afraid

 

Something will make me leave my furry rabbit nest

And I will silently slip warm feet and warm arms

Out of their dark animal comfort

To tiptoe into the cold and prickly air of the too-bright day

LEAVING THE CHICKEN HOUSE

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By Lisa Huddleston

Here in Tennessee we are experiencing a rare time of ice and snow, and everywhere I look I see a picture-worthy scene–as those of you who follow my Instagram and Facebook accounts can attest. Sorry for the overload, but there is just too much beauty to keep it to myself. I see that others of you feel the same, and I’ve been enjoying your pictures of snow angels, icicles, sledding, and cozy food!

"What's this white stuff?"

“What’s this white stuff?”

Of course, along with all this loveliness comes the stress and worry of interrupted schedules and dangerous travels.

My musician son who was anxious to head home Monday to finally celebrate Valentine’s Day with his sweetheart has been stuck in Dallas. Naturally, he’s not too happy. Also, there have been countless accidents on slick roads, people have been without power, and some of us are just plain stir crazy (I won’t say who–COUGH COUGH). Even the chickens are freaked out and had to be coaxed with treats to step onto the new white carpet in their yard!

Venturing out.

Venturing out.

This unusual wintry event–and our chicken chickens–have got me thinking about an insight my daughter recently shared. She works at a rehab center where she gets to know many elderly patients, and one thing she has recognized is that everyone is going through whatever stage of life he or she is in for the very first time. Sarah says that reminds her to be more patient with people–some of us just handle change better than others. That’s kind, deep, and very true. And it makes me think.

Some of us see fresh-fallen snow and want to make angels; others of us envision every potential slip and risk and decide to hunker down for the duration. As usual, balance is best, and I’m reminded to try harder to see both sides as well as to give those who can’t just a little more grace.

Good stuff to ponder on a cold, wintry day as I sit by the fire sipping from a hot cup and listening to the dog snore.

Baruch haShem!

TENNESSEE WINTER

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By Lisa Huddleston

Gray days offer little obvious beauty

Nothing gaudy or over-bright but

Straw-colored grasses

Waving white heads and dancing in the icy sun

Are pure delight

Reminder of last summer’s bounty and

Promise of what will come again

A perfect moment frozen in a single glance of joy