Thursday, January 28, 2016


I spent 3 hours this morning with two of my besties here in Spain talking, praying and reflecting as we like to do.  We express our hearts about what life is bringing at present while the others listen intently first to the sharer, then to God.  Insights, scriptures, word pictures and phrases often catch in our souls for one another and we talk about them and pray for each other.  I frankly don´t know what I´d do without them.

After a rather emotional time for me this morning expressing my present dark phase, they were undaunted and listened intently to God on my behalf.  They heard some amazing, encouraging things and ministered to me with such compassion that I left sensing light and also, a literal turning point. 

Later in the afternoon, one of them wrote to me and said that while she was driving to an appointment she noticed that the almond trees are blossoming here in Andalucía.  I had noticed it, too, the day before; they are the first to bloom here.  But today it caught her attention because we had talked a lot about vineyards and pruning and seasons; I myself expressed that I was definitely in a ¨winter¨ season with little progress to notice at first glimpse.  But we reflected on the well-known fact that winter, while to the eyes seems like a barren time, really has some profound things going on.  This is the time of year when, underneath the soil, the roots are going deep.  During the sometimes long, dark, cold season of winter, there is much more than meets the eye!  It is a time to trust and believe in what is really happening  - and in what is to come.

But to think that some things actually blossom in the winter!  That was a fresh thought to me today. To think what it must be for almonds to blossom earlier than everything else!  What must their secret be?

The almond tree is the first to blossom and the last to bear fruit.  Almond trees are present in the Scriptures and are particularly associated with ¨one of the earliest prophecies of young Jeremiah.¨* 

¨The word of the Lord came to me:  ¨What do you see, Jeremiah?¨ 
¨I see the branch of an almond tree, ¨ I replied.  
The Lord said to me, ¨You have seen correctly,
 for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.¨    
 Jeremiah 1:11, 12

It gets even better:  The Hebrew word for almond, shaked, is also translated ¨to watch¨.  By seeing the almond branch, God assured Jeremiah that He is watching over His word to bring it to pass, no matter the passage of time.¨*  Almonds are clearly associated with God's watchful presence and promises for future fulfillment of His promises - even during our most wintry of times.

The almond trees around Andalucía where I am blessed to live are just coming alive this week and I am so touched to see their faith-filled prelude to spring.  The Almendros and their flowers are a symbol of awakening and hope - to all that God promises to watch over and fulfill.

May your day be blessed with (literal and/or figurative) almond blossoms! 

Photos in order of appearance:  Sydney and Theophilus Papadopoulos

Quote from:  Dr. Juergen Buehler, ICEJ (Int´l Christian Embassy in Jerusalem) Executive Director

Sunday, January 24, 2016


People think I should be in a different place -
be doing more things,
engaging & reacting,
committing & applying,
running & attending,
producing & processing...
everything in a way they imagine to be normal or right.
Maybe it´s how they think they would fare
if they were in my shoes.
How they would do it better, faster.

¨Just give me my grief!¨
I want to yell at them.
You can´t take it from me, or rush my process.
You can´t change my pain or do it for me or
impose your ways on my process.
Only I can do it.
I must walk this road alone,
in my own way.

It´s not that I want to be here.
It´s that I must be here.
And it does not mean I don´t need you.
I do need you -
loving, cheering, encouraging.
Not preaching or rescuing or pushing.

Just hold my hand.
Just be quiet.
Just be there.
Just love me in spite of this sadness,
this loneliness, tiredness, confusion, depression, fear.

I know I am hard to love right now.
I am sorry!
Please forgive me.
Please believe in me when I cannot believe in myself.
Please believe in who I will yet be,
in who I am becoming
on this road.

And please, help protect me from all the ¨shoulds¨ -
both my own & those imposed by others.

Photo by:  Connie Smith

Saturday, January 23, 2016


In these shadows
I read
looking for inspiration, hoping for revelation...
but there are only words on a page.
I speak
looking for understanding, hoping for compassion...
but there is only empty advice.
I sleep
looking for sweet rest, hoping for refreshment...
but there is only restlessness & continual fatigue.
I pray
looking for light, hoping for relief...
but there is only a void.
I listen
looking for the Voice, hoping to hear it...
but there is only silence.

Oh God!  I cannot see you or find You!
Please reveal Yourself to me!

And if You are here in disguise,
present in ways I have not known before,
please open my eyes, my heart
to perceive, to believe.

In these shadows
help me to read words of life,
find compassion,
sleep the sleep,
see the Light,
and hear the Voice.

In these shadows
help me see past the camouflage of perceptions of God,
past the veil of sadness blinding me,
past the smoke screen of emotions dominating me,
past the illusions of who I should be...
past the veneer of how and where I think I should find You.

I don´t ask You to remove me from these shadows -
just that I can find You here among them.

Photo by:  Sundaram Ramaswamy

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


(On differing styles & paces during grief in marriage.)

There used to be a certain comfortable pace to ¨us,¨
A togetherness of steps in this life journey.
There were, of course, out-of-step times occasionally,
But as a whole, we moved forward together in stride.

When our world crashed
and grief moved in,
our Stride was Broken.
For a while, we were both immobile
and time didn´t exist.
But as we began to move again,
everything was different;
as we began to stir,
we could see that our whole world had changed.

They told us that grief was a ¨two steps forward, three steps back¨ kind of thing.
But his forward steps were her backwards steps,
and when he was going backwards, she was moving forward.
Alignment began to elude us;
And we struggled, trying to recover our former rhythm.

The tempos were offbeat,
the gaits contrasting,
the pain distinct,
the headway disparate.
When he experienced acceleration,
she crashed.
While he rejoiced with new momentum,
she retreated to barely standing.
When she spoke of their grief articulately,
he struggled through tears to make sense to others.
When he marched or ran or on occasion raced,
she trudged, plodded or stumbled.
Sometimes he crashed -
and she lifted him up...
only to watch him catch the wind and fly off again.
Sometimes he slowed
and tried to gently carry her with him.
She travelled for a short stint -
but struggled out of his arms to walk her own necessary path.

There are two unmistakably distinct (and necessary) strides.
They are strange and scary to us both.
So the question is:
Can we be ok with this for a while?

Can we adjust to this unfamiliar divergence of paths?
Can we shoulder the loneliness of it?
Can we - for the sake of love & healing -
carry the weight of the frustrations and comparisons inherent in it?
Can we hold on to hope that we will learn a new pace -
possibly very different from the one before?

Each stride carries different scenery, experiences, relationships, emotions.
Neither stride is wrong -
but they are different.

Can we learn to find rest points together along the way
to regroup, listen & learn?
Can we respect the other person´s need for a different style and tempo?
Are we willing to take time & energy from other things to readjust?
Are we willing to live for a while with a Broken Stride?

There used to be a certain pace to ¨us,¨
A togetherness of steps in this life journey...
Our pace has changed & now there are two.
We may look awkward, we might not understand,
but we are moving -
and for now that is victory.

Photo by:  Billy Wilson