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"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." I lived on the banks of a river . . . and it captured my attention. These are my observations about the parallels between my life...and the river.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Changing seasons

Time flies.

We get so wrapped up in life. We get carried along by the swift current of the river. Sometimes it's more forceful than others. Sometimes it's all you can do to hold on, much less enjoy.

Change comes.

Seasons change. Things change all around us. Sometimes we are just the observer and the change doesn't affect us. Sometimes it touches us to the core of our very being, and there's not a single thing we can do about it.

Except hold on for dear life. And pray that there isn't a set of waterfalls around the next bend.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The River rushes on

Wow, I just reread my last post -- dang, I am LONG-WINDED! Sorry about that. Congrats to any of you that made it through the whole thing!

Anyway...I am off -- leaving on a jet plane, as the song goes. However, I do know when I'll be back, and that is Sunday evening!

My, how time flies. My little sister is getting married. Makes me feel old. Not discontented, just old. Actually, it has put me in a sentimental sort of mood. I feel like I'm about to write the sister version of Bob Carlisle's 'Butterfly Kisses'. I'd have to call it 'Quesadillas and Brownie Sundaes'. Our trademark tradition for years. And only at Friendly's!

I also remember when she was little. I did a lot of babysitting in my family. I love kids. I love my sisters and my brother! But she was the challenge. Actually, that doesn't even begin to describe what she was! And I can say this because she does know it. :-) We've had many a laugh over it since.

Let's just say that God blessed her with a very healthy set of vocal cords (which she was not afraid to use to their maximum volume!!) and a very strong-willed personality!! Both are good attributes, but as a child, they did present me with a few difficult babysitting situations. :-)

But we made it through, and now she's all growed up. (Yes, I did intend to say "growed") And as much as I love her, I hope she has a kid just like her. [wicked little smile]

'Twill be too much fun to sit on the sidelines and watch that unfold!

So I raise my glass of seltzer to my sister -- just to her for now. He'll get his attention tomorrow.

To a precious little girl with curly hair and a fiesty little personality!
And to the beautiful young woman she has become --
still with curly hair, and a great personality,
but with a few of the rough edges smoothed out.

I love you.
And I'll always be here for you.
I'm so very proud of you,
and it is with great joy that I celebrate this "special-est"
of occasions with you!

To you! And to many happy years to come.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Prison break

Have you ever been incarcerated?

I have. Pretty recently, in fact.

Now before you get all shook up, I haven't been to state, or federal prison, or even the county jail. No, my prison was of my own making. And the funny thing is, I didn't even realize that I was no longer free.

Before you completely blow me off and think me crazy, let me explain a little.

You see, I can't take it when people disrespect me. Or when they lie. Or when they have no regard for anyone else's feelings or opinions, and instead do whatever the hell they feel like. And I ESPECIALLY hate it when they go along with you verbally, agree, "yes, yes, yes, OK, we'll do it that way", and then go and do it the way they want anyway.

I know I'm not alone in this. Any woman that has been taken advantage of by a man she trusted would tell you that they feel the same way. Or at least, that they felt that way for a while.

This is such a struggle for me. Last night someone did the same thing I just described. Went along with the group, was agreeing about how to do something, then went and did it his own way anyway. And no one could say anything because it was too late. But it affected all of us.

And I was mad. No, actually, more than that. I was livid. Red hot with rage.

It stayed with me all evening. It stayed with me while I slept. I felt it when I woke up this morning.

And I was miserable. I got an email from someone else saying that they had learned to not let it bother them, and they wished I could get to that point too. No, this is not the first time this has happened. You'd think that I could grow up a little and learn to let go when people are so self centered.

But I couldn't.

I stayed in bed for a while this morning. Feeling sorry for myself and nursing my anger. Rehashing in my head how much men just take advantage and are self centered and stubborn.

(not all men, mind you, just a few in particular)

Not only was I miserable this morning, I was achy and uncomfortable too. Sore muscles, headache, all sorts of symptoms. Even my cat was avoiding me. And I just wanted him to snuggle with me! I wasn't even taking my frustration out on him. I knew I had to get up and get going because I have to be somewhere this morning, so I finally decided that if there was any chance of it being a good day, it would certainly help if I got up and ran for a little while. Fresh air is always good for your mood, and your body.

So I dragged myself out of bed and went. I ran for a little while, then when I got to the river I stopped. I leaned on the fence in the park and watched the water. It was so beautiful this morning. I prayed for a while.

"God, I'm so mad at him, why does he have to be so stubborn and get away with it all the time?! " I prayed that God would teach him a lesson. That God would get ahold of him and change his heart.

I prayed for a while. But I didn't feel any better. In fact, I was getting more and more angry because it didn't seem like God was agreeing with me, or even hearing my prayer.

I was so frustrated. So angry. So hurt. Everytime something like this happens it brings up all the old feelings from past situations. And it just adds fuel to the fire.

I sat down on the ground, tired, angry, feeling so very alone. God wasn't listening. I felt like evil was getting its way.

As I sat on the ground and looked out at the river again, I had a shocking realization. God was no longer silent.

I had been leaning on a wrought iron fence. When I sat down on the ground and looked out at the river again, all I could see were the bars. The brim of my hat kept me from being able to see the top of the fence. I was sitting in a corner of the fence, so it really felt like it was surrounding me. It was all I could see.

I was in prison.

And it was because of my own stubbornness. You see, if I would just forgive and let go, then other people's selfishness and stubbornness would not affect me this way. But holding on like I always do, wishing for vengeance, rehashing in my mind everything that they've done to hurt me, this is a prison sentance. And I impose it upon myself.

It was as if God was saying to me in that moment, "You alone have the ability to release yourself. You must forgive and allow me to work. You hold his stubborrnness and selfishness against him, yet you sit there with the same attitudes yourself. You will never be free until you learn to forgive."

WOW, those are tough words. Words I did NOT want to hear. And I sat there struggling and arguing in my mind.

I finally made the decision to let it go and forgive -- and ya know, it DID bring freedom. It lifted a weight from my chest. The difficult part is, I know it's not over. I know it's gonna happen again. And I know that I will probably initially hold on to my resentment rather than let it go. But the bars of that fence were such a perfectly timed picture. That image will stay in my mind for a while. And hopefully, I will not be too stubborn to learn the lesson again if needed.

There are other people that I still hold resentment against. People that come to mind even now. And I can see the bars I've created for myself there too. I'm not completely free yet. But I've had a taste of freedom this morning, on the banks of the river, and I want to do whatever it takes to release the other prison doors as well.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My dream house now belongs to...

Someone else.

Funny thing -- as you grow up you start to think about more grown up things. Like owning property. Like how nice it would be to be able to paint your living room deep shades of green without your landlord going nuts.

If you're me, you dream of a timeless brick exterior, and beautiful hardwood floors. Cedar lined closets and lots of windows. Manageable size, not too big. Not too much fixing up needed, but enough cosmetic changes needed so that you can make it your own. Small yard ~ big enough for a BBQ with a few friends, enough space for the cat to establish his own territory, but not so much that the upkeep would be a full time job.

Yes. I dream. And for a little while, there was a slight possibility that that dream might be on its way to becoming reality!

But no longer.

Alas, the house has been sold.

As much as I really didn't imagine that it would be possible at this time in my life to own that piece of property and home, it really did strike a very sad chord in my heart to hear that it was sold.

One thing the house did not have is a river. I guess at this time in my life I am to continue to live here, on the river, and watch my life ebb and flow over boulders and under bridges until a more settled time.

There will be other brick houses with hardwood floors.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The teacher becomes the student

They say that in life you never stop learning. Or should never stop learning. Or maybe it's that you should never lose your child-like thirst for knowledge.

Well, I never claimed to be good at quoting "them". Who are "they" anyway?! Nameless people that act as authorities on life and how to live it. :-) And we give them so much credit, these nameless, faceless people! "Well, you know what they say..." And we LIVE by that!

Too funny.

But back to learning. Sorry for the tangent!

I did something last night that I haven't done in close to 13 years. I had a piano lesson -- but as the student, not the teacher! Talk about scary! It's hard to go back to being a student after you've done things independently, and even been paid to teach others what you know!

But learning is good. I get stuck in a rut. I've been stuck in the same rut for 13 years. Getting better at it for sure, but it's the same old rut. My goal is to take lessons for a few months and really branch out. Learn some new styles, some new techniques, and expand my abilities!! Be more creative.

But the downside... wow that's the hard part! I have to actually practice now! Just sitting down and playing whatever is in my heart to play doesn't cut it when you're reporting to someone each week! It's back to scales and boring exercises.

(ugh, gag me)

And the worst part of all?! I had to cut my fingernails!! My teacher really harped (nicely, but still harped!) on my technique! Apparently my relaxed fingering is part of what is holding me back from fancier styles and improvisation. My wrists are good, my posture is good, but my fingers are too relaxed. It's great for the ballad-y type stuff I play now, but not for the stuff I want to learn.

I watched him play, and WOW. I vowed to do whatever it takes to try to learn how to play more like him. So tonight I had a little ceremony with my nail clippers and a garbage can---

OK, not really. No ceremony. :-) I just cut my nails and went to find a piano to practice on. I practiced for a while, realized how F A R I have to go to get where I want to be, and promptly got discouraged!!!

But then I remembered that Rome was not built in a day, and then I reminded myself that I've learned a lot of new things lately, and it just takes time and effort -- and then I wasn't so discouraged.

So...there's a lot to learn. A lot of hard work. But I'm excited!! I feel like I'm on the verge of a whole new world musically. And THAT, my friends, just thrills me to the very core of my being!

Too bad I can't take my piano to the banks of the river and play there!! Maybe I'd better dust off my guitar too...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Currents of Change

It's been a while since I've written anything -- almost a week! Guess I ran out of thoughtful things to say. Or maybe it's just that the week was so full that I couldn't stop to reflect.

As I look back now, on the cusp of another whirlwind week, I'm remembering a few things that happened that deserve some reflection. Good news first! I was working with one of our consultants this past week and he had some really good feedback about my work since the transition into my new position. Not only did he share this good feedback with me, but also with my boss. Always nice.

This weekend my sister came to visit me. We had a wonderful time, hanging out, doing some things that we've had as special sister traditions for years! Things we don't get to do now that we don't live in the same city. I also had the pleasure of introducing her to some new-to-her indulgences! Real gelato and italian ice straight from the family owned italian shop/bakery right up the street from my place.

Of course, no visit is complete without a visit to the river! We walked down around sunset and enjoyed the neighborhood, then the peace and tranquility of the riverbanks.

Well, tranquil until the mosquitoes and black flies crashed our peaceful party! But by then it was time to head back anyway.

On Saturday we went out to breakfast to another one of our favorite spots -- then I drafted her into helping me rearrange the furniture in my apartment! What fun that was! Amazingly enough, it worked out almost exactly as I had mapped it in my head. Change is good. As long as I'm in control of it, that is! :-)

In the process of rearranging, some things were released from their hiding places. Places they had been stashed out of sight. Most of the stuff will just be boxed and restashed in the basement, but a few things caught my attention and will remain nearby.

I came across a few old photo albums. One of them spans my later high school years. There are pictures of my friends, family, even a few of my dad! I was happy to see that. It was good to see pictures of him when he was healthy. Good memories.

But it was interesting to see myself through the years. Seeing the pictures brings back memories of who I was then -- things I was involved in, people I knew, places I went. Some of it seems like a different lifetime entirely! Some of it seems like a completely different person.

I saw pictures of friends that I haven't spoken to in years. I wouldn't even begin to know how to find them now. Amazing how life takes us on and people come and go from our lives.

Looking through those albums brought back so many memories, so much "stuff". Some of it so very pleasant, some of it absolutely miserable. There are times that I recall fondly, others that I don't even want to be reminded of.

Yet, even as I flip the pages quickly to avoid certain memories, I realize that I am thankful for all of it. I look at the person that I was then, and I look at who I am now, and I realize that I would not be who I am today if I had not experienced the things that shaped me. No, not always pleasant. Yes, some of it was detrimental.

But all of it together made me into who I am today. And I am pleased with who I am. I have goals of who I want to continue to become, and I have many shortcomings that I am well aware of. But as I reflect on the trip down memory lane, I have to say that regardless of how miserable it was then, I am a better person now for having learned each lesson, or experienced each situation.

Life is a journey, not a destination. Like the river, we are always changing, moving. The rocks, roots and crevices in its path shape it. You never step into the same river twice. I am thankful for the photo albums and the good news that my life IS like a river -- and not like a stagnant pond.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Funny thing . . .

I was in a meeting today at work and somehow the topic of discussion turned to change and seizing the moment. My boss started talking about the difference between a river and a pond -- when fishing in a pond, whatever you don't catch now will be there later. It's not going anywhere. But in a river, it's always changing, always moving on so you have to make the most of every opportunity because you can't come back tomorrow and find the same opportunity.

I thought it rather interesting that I was not the one to bring up the analogy of a river! And no, I did not start a deep discussion about life in the river.

But I did decide that there are times when I'd much prefer it to be "Life In The Pond". Less change, things are more stable, more secure. Everything's under control. No whitewater rapids, no scary, unexpected waterfalls or boulders. Just calm. Peaceful.

But then I thought a little more about the pond and realized that I HATE ponds, except to look at from a distance. Why? Because there's a lot of muck and yucky stuff in a pond! Stuff you don't find in a river. Where does that nasty stuff come from?

From being stagnant.

From not moving and not changing.

Ugh. I'm not a big fan of change, but I'd rather change than become stagnant, bacteria filled and mucky, that's for sure!! Ewww.

So for today at least, I'm OK with the scary parts. As long as I know I'll make it through to the other side. As long as I know that I won't have to go through them completely alone.

And I know these things are true -- I have God's word -- His promise -- that He will not ever leave me. That He has a plan to prosper me and not harm me. That there is hope for my future. Now, not always exactly the hope I might be hoping for!! No, God and I don't always see eye to eye on what is best for me.

But I trust Him. He's never let me down. I don't always understand, and sometimes I get really angry at what He allows to happen to me. But I can honestly say that He's brought me through everything so far and never left me. So I believe that I can continue to move ahead, knowing that whatever comes, He will still not leave me to go through it alone.

Reminds me of the words to one of my favorite hymns -- an oldie, but a goodie!

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

These things happen for a reason . . .

I was supposed to go away this weekend. Supposed to spend a few days vacationing with my family. Even had time off from work! But the day before I was supposed to leave, I got sick. VERY sick. Not the kind of sick where you can push through and go on with your plans anyway, rather the kind of sick that has you O.U.T.

So I was out. For 2 full days. I was so upset about not being able to go. I was talking to a friend on the phone in the afternoon and I was crying because I was sick and in pain, and because I was mad that I wouldn't be able to see my family.

Yes, I was crying. Being sick breaks down my defenses, OK? I was pretty much a basketcase. Not a pretty sight. (But I am better now. More in control of my emotions, at least!)

Being the good friend that he is, my tears didn't bother him. He just listened and tried to calm me down a little. (Apparently being hysterical doesn't really aid the healing process) He prayed for me, which calmed me down, then he told me to wait until the morning to make my final decision on whether to go or stay. Hey, maybe there would be a nighttime miracle and I would be better in the morning!

Or maybe not.

The next morning I was totally wiped out, (as in, could barely get out of bed) and realized that it would be foolish to attempt a 5 1/2 hour drive alone. He called to see how I was and I told him I was staying home. He agreed with the wisdom in that, then said something that usually sounds a little cliche, but somehow, he made it sound reasonable.

"You know, nothing happens by accident. I really think that there is a reason that you got sick, a reason that you're supposed to stay home."

In my mind I'm thinking, 'Sure, yeah, make it sound good. I'm still mad.'

But then this morning, I got an email from another friend who knew I was sick and cancelled my plans to go out of town. She said the same exact thing! Coincidence? Maybe.

But seeing as I do believe that the God of the Universe holds my life in His hands, and that He has a plan for me, and that He provides each breath that I breathe, I realize that I do have to agree with what they said. I may never know the reason. Maybe I would have been involved in a serious accident. Maybe I would have missed out on something special here, at home. (Actually, I did spend a fun evening with friends tonight, even if I am still dragging and not at my full energy level)

Who knows? I certainly don't know the answer. And when my mom called today to see how I was feeling and tell me what they were doing on vacation, yes, I was a little sad. Yes, I do miss them. Yes, I really wanted to spend a few days with them.

Hey, maybe the big thing that was supposed to happen this weekend is me growing up enough to make a wise decision. I wanted so badly to get in my car and make that drive -- and I probably could have made it through sheer determination! But I would have worn myself ragged and probably gotten sicker. I know that I would not have been ready for work again on Monday! So for me to make the decision to stay home and rest, well that shows a bit of growth for me! :-) Some responsibility even. Thinking ahead and making a decision based on all the factors, not just instant gratification.

So, I guess I'll probably never know the "true reason" why I had to cancel my vacation. But that's OK. I trust that my life is in the hands of One Who knows much more than I do. And I will enjoy the rest of this weekend, whatever it may bring.

These things happen for a reason!

Sunday, July 16, 2006


That word describes my weekend! Spec-TAC-ular. I went out of town to visit friends and had such a wonderful time! Met a new friend too. :) And that was truly a pleasure.

There is something about a weekend away with friends that is so relaxing. You're not in your own home, so you're not seeing the laundry, dishes, or other random things that "need" to be done! You can just chill. And there's usually the opportunity to see new things and explore a different place!

Which is what we did. A night on the town! Walked all over, saw some historic things, enjoyed some good food, watched the people around us . . .

Oh, and sat by the water! Yup. I love water. This was a much larger body of water than the river -- we sat on the edge of the harbor with our feet dangling, the moonlight and city lights reflecting on the surface. Watched boats coming in and out, dreamed of yachts and moonlight dance cruises.

Fun conversation, catching up with an old friend, getting to know a new one, finding you have much in common! Now that makes for a great weekend. Actually, that's where the term "spectacular" fits. :)

Another thing -- I am all for modernization, convenience, technology, all the stuff that makes our lives so cushy. I am grateful for it! But there are some things from a simpler time that I also love. Cobblestone streets, for one. So beautiful. So unique. Creating a whole different set of sounds that our ears aren't used to hearing. Forcing us to slow down a little (who can walk fast on cobblestones?!), to engage our senses, to appreciate the present. Don't rush so quickly into the next moment, enjoy the one you have right now!

A visit to an old town with cobblestone streets and many historical places is just what I needed. And the visit with friends, and the making of a new one was certainly icing on the cake!

Early tomorrow morning I will be back at the river. But with new experiences on my mind, and much to be happy about! The river is always changing. Floods come, but then the waters recede again. The same is true with life. Hard times come, bad things happen. But eventually life goes on, and you once again experience good, happier times. A different person for sure. The tough times affect us. Some of those scars are with us to our graves. But they don't have to define us, and they CERTAINLY don't have to keep us from ever being happy again!

A toast . . . to friends -- both new, and old.
To cobblestone streets and good conversation.
To embracing each moment with arms flung wide!
To life!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Rejection is one of life's most difficult, painful things to deal with. No matter who it's coming from, or how old we are, it hurts.

"We regret to inform you that the promotion you've been working toward for the past 3 years has been given to someone else."

"You know, I just don't think you are/have what I'm looking for in a partner." "I know I asked you to stand up for me at my wedding, but I changed my mind . . ."

Rejection comes in many different ways. And no matter the situation, it always leaves us feeling insufficient.

Am I not good enough? Not pretty enough? Not a good enough friend? But what about all I've given, even
sacrificed, to be in that place? Was it all for nothing?

And we are left with many questions. A little more alone than we were before, with a little less hope about the job, the relationship, whatever it is that we were rejected from.

Rejection is a part of life. Much like death. It is painful, but sometimes necessary. Some people need to learn how to reject in a gentle, loving way, (i.e. NOT through email and not by assigning blame) but even in the gentlest, kindest form, it still hurts. It still leaves us e m p t y.

Having found myself on the receiving end of a few rejections this past week, I was in a fragile emotional state. Alternating between tears and hurt feelings, anger and indignance.

What do you mean I'm not good enough? Do you have ANY idea how hard I'm working?!

What do you mean you don't need me any more?
Do you even have
ONE CLUE how indebted you are to me?

What do you mean you've moved on and have new friends?
Does everything I've poured into this relationship for the past 5 years mean nothing to you?

In the middle of feeling the hurt and asking the questions and crying the tears, I went to the river. I wasn't sure why, but I felt it calling to me.

The surface was still as glass. No rushing waters, no raging rapids. These were in my heart and mind instead. But the river was peaceful.

I found myself pouring my heart out. Releasing all the pain an anger over what had been done to me, and letting the peace of the river seep into my soul.

And I started to feel a little bit better.

Not that it didn't hurt anymore, just that the raging storms were starting to be calmed.

Sitting by the river is almost like sitting at the feet of Jesus.
He asks us to bring our cares and burdens and lay them at His feet.
In return, He offers peace to calm our troubled souls.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The river keeps on rolling . . .

Does a river ever come to a certain point and say, "Hmmm, I like it here. The banks are soft and comfortable, the trees are nice . . . I think I'll stay right here!"

No. Rivers keep moving. Always changing.

I hate change.

No, wait -- let me rephrase. I hate change unless I initiate it. If it's my idea, then it's fine and I'll go full steam ahead! But when things change that are out of my control, I get really uncomfortable. And the world around me usually gets to hear about it! I have yet to learn how to go with the flow all the time. Or even go with the flow of change peacefully or submissively.

The kind of change that hurts me the most, that affects me the deepest, is loss. Most change involves loss of one kind or another, but sometimes the things gained far outweigh whatever may be lost.

But only sometimes.

Tonight as I sat watching the fireworks, I wanted the river to stop. To flow backwards, actually. I've seen fireworks many times, in many different places in the country (and in the world!) in my lifetime. I love fireworks!

But tonight as I watched, I was transported in my mind to a time years ago when I was a little girl. I remember being at a fireworks display with my parents and being scared because it was so loud, and I could feel the earth shaking under us with each terrifying boom. I was so scared that I couldn't even open my eyes to enjoy the beautiful colors! I just remember crying and wanting to go home.

But then my daddy reached out, lifted me onto his lap and guided my attention to the sky. He told me that it was OK, he would protect me, and that if I looked I would see something really pretty.

I remember settling into his lap, feeling so secure and safe, plugging my ears and being absolutely in awe at the beauty of the display.

And as I sat tonight, watching the beautiful colors once again, I found myself looking up further into the heavens, wondering, "Daddy, can you see them from up there? Can you see me? I'm not scared anymore. I miss you, but I'm not scared. Thank you for teaching me to look beyond my fear and into the beauty."

How is it that I, who hate change so much, can be so in love with the river? How is it that I feel such a sense of constancy from something that is always changing? Maybe it is because the river keeps going -- regardless. It perseveres over boulders, through crevices, loss or no loss, pushing, pushing, pushing, and it doesn't allow anything to keep it from moving on.

The river is an inspiration to me.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


I didn't go to the river this morning. When I went running at 5am yesterday, the waters were receeding and my jogging trail was once again usable, although terribly muddy. I decided to sleep in today rather than go running. (Sunday being a day of rest and all) But I miss it. There is something about getting there, and sitting on the banks. Seeing that all is well. The river is still there, still flowing.

It speaks to my soul.

It says, 'No matter what you're going through, be it a flood or a jam, things will eventually return to normal and life will go on. Just have faith that the God Whose hand is on the river is the same God Whose hand is on your life.'

And it brings me peace.

Every time.

Another reason I love to go to the river is that there is a spot that I love to sit -- it's on a rock and it's sheltered so that if I sit facing the river, I can forget the neighborhoods and city behind me. Especially in the early morning when it is so still and quiet. It is the perfect place to sort out my thoughts. To pray, to seek God's guidance.

Sometimes He is silent.

Sometimes I am silent.

But I always come away nourished and at peace. It's as if the gentle waves and ripples, or the serenity of a perfectly smooth surface, work their way into my soul and work the same magic on the raging insanity of my thoughts. Similar to how a magnet takes electrons that are all jumbled and causes them to line up and face the same direction. (I looked that up online 'cuz I couldn't remember the proper terms, so if I still have it wrong, blame the Department of Energy's 'Ask a Scientist' website!)

If the river could feel, would it feel pain? There are environmental changes that affect the river and it can not resist the changes. Winter, for example, brings freezing temperatures. Does the river ever say, 'NO!! I don't WANT to be frozen! I want to run freely!'

I remember listening to a book on tape as a child. It was by Ethel Barrett (a wonderful children's author) and it was about a body of water. Stream, lake, river, I can't recall. I don't remember much of the story line except that it took place in the wintertime and the water was frozen over.

The part that I remember most clearly is the water resisting the ice, saying "GET OFF MY BACK!!" and feeling crushed and restricted.

I frequently feel that way. When the pressures and troubles of my circumstances try to force me into a box, or a mold. When they hold me captive.

What about rocks? Rivers encounter rocks. At times there are many. Enough to create a set of whitewater rapids. That certainly provides a thrill for those of us that love to go whitewater rafting!! But does the river enjoy that?

There are rocks in my life as well. Boulders, really. And they frequently create a rolling, frothing, explosive reaction. Unlike the river, I doubt that anyone gets any pleasure out of my "whitewater rapids"! It's more like a volcanic explosion, I'm afraid.

But once again, the rapids do not last forever, -- nor does winter -- and eventually, the circumstances subside. Ice melts, rocks are bypassed, and the river resumes its more gentle flow.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Rising waters

Today the river is high. There has been much rain, causing it to swell and push against the banks which hold it captive. The water is muddy and murky. On the surface it looks rather calm. Moving quickly, but calm. However, if anything gets in its way, it will be carried swiftly away, with no chance of return. And if you set anything in the river to try to redirect it or stop its flow, chaos will erupt, as the rough currents just below the surface will create a set of whitewater rapids.

How often am I like that? Things happen that raise my stress level. On the outside I am still relatively calm. Determined, perhaps, even a little pushy. But calm.

Until you cross me.

Then I rage like a river out of control. All the undercurrents rise to the surface and explode, flooding everyone around me with debris from the storm raging within.

Peace like a river.

What does that expression mean? What is the river like?

Sometimes dark & murky. Sometimes calm. Sometimes raging. It feeds and nourishes, it provides a habitat for plants & animals. It also kills and destroys.

That is an interesting comparison to peace. I don't think this is the tranquility that we so often are asking for when we ask for peace about a situation. As I look at the river, I come to think that this kind of peace would refer more to a complete calm and deep seated trust in the Creator of the river. The One who promises that peace. A calm and trust that will center our souls and enable us to hold on and ride out the rapids and the storms.

The river is at flood stage today. Roads are closed, the waters are dark, muddy, murky and dangerous.

Riverside parks and gazebos are underwater. Firefighters and emergency personnel are everywhere along the banks, preparing for power outages and possible fires as the water creeps closer to power lines.

The water is supposed to continue to rise throughout the day as the rain keeps coming.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Not a typo

You may be looking at the name of this blog saying, "Shouldn't it be life ON the river?" Well, the answer is no. Yes, I did say in my profile that I live on a river, but life IN the river is a very different story.

Life ON the river speaks of sitting back in a lawn chair, sipping lemonade, watching things happen from a safe distance. You can talk about the whitewater rapids and the flooding, but you're safe. You don't have to experience it yourself.

Life IN the river is entirely different. You are relinquishing your safety and taking a risk! You are experiencing first hand the joys, trials and spontenaity of the river. Looking at it from a spiritual perspective, you might say, "Are you just going to observe or are you going to give it your all and dive in?!"

These first few posts are actually from my journal entries of the last week. I've been spending more and more time observing the river. Sitting on its banks, watching how it changes with the weather, observing the different aspects of life that are touched and changed by it. There are such clear parallels between the real-life river and the spiritual river that feeds my soul.

Our infinitely creative Creator designed certain cycles and processes that are the same year after year throughout nature. There are also parts of creation that are constantly changing from year to year. But it is the same with our lives. I find that it is so reassuring to see both the chaos and the order of my life reflected in nature. It helps to bring a little perspective to my often myopic vision.

So please join me for the journey! It gets lonely sometimes, I'd love the company. And as you experience the twists and turns of life, feel free to comment and share those with me and our fellow river dwellers.

The River

The morning silence is cut by the sound of a speedboat. Prior to that, the only noise on the banks of the river was the birds singing and the occasional splash of a fish.

Most mornings this past week, the river’s surface has been smooth as glass. It almost seemed that the pressure from the intense humidity was pressing the water down flat.

Today the humidity has broken. The surface of the river is broken up by a million little ripples as the gentle breezes tease the water.

The sky is overcast but not gloomy.

The river mirrors my life in so many ways. Everything is quiet and beautiful, then something comes charging through and stirs things up.

Pressures try to conform me. People’s expectations. Even my own expectations. Sometimes that pressure is released and I am free to be the person God intended me to be.

Last night I started to read the book, Shattered Dreams, by Larry Crabb and I was so shaken up by the introduction alone.

The concept was this – what if God allows our dreams to be shattered so that we will seek the higher dream of experiencing Him and Him alone? Our dreams only reach as far as our knowledge. Sometimes not even that far. We can’t dream of that which we do not know.

I get so scared when things I hold dear are taken away. So many things are in a state of chaos in my life right now. My dreams, relationships, you name it, it’s undergoing change. And not the way I want to see it.

I guess the biggest question for me is, do I trust Him?

I don’t have an answer for that yet. But I want it to be yes!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Welcome to . . .


In the River.

Not always predictable, not always safe. But definitely not boring!

Won't you join me for the ride?