Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

6.26.2013

Raindrops on Roses


Joel came for a visit from Maryland last week, and it seemed that everywhere we went, the clouds forbore to rain and the sun consented to shine. But as the week came to a close, the skies looked more forbidding, and on the last day of Joel's visit from his current state of residence, a light sprinkle began. The rains have come. It's peaceful, calming, beautifying, and predictable here in the Northwest. It's also wild, contemplative, and sad. Between the two, rain strikes me as so very bittersweet, which fits my mood today exactly after two and a half weeks of precious times with family--a 9 day family vacation along the Oregon Coast to the California redwoods and 8 subsequent days with Joel.
 
Now as the rain returns and all the obligations I put on hold crowd my brain, I want nothing more than to sit and be grateful to God for the last several weeks. Won't you join me?

 
We got a taste of Africa (and Asia and Europe and America!) at the wildlife safari.//Camping breakfasts are always feasts thanks to Mama!//Mama and Papa on one of the many beautiful beaches we visited.//Susanna, Mikaela, Lauren, Jonah, Micah, and Melanie balancing precariously on a tree that had grown together.

 
 

 
The redwood trees of California are inspiring sights to behold, dwarfing buildings and spanning centuries as they do!

 
Lauren, Susanna, Mikaela, and Melanie: I love my sisters!

 
How many times have we been to the Lincoln City's seaside and failed to spot this monument to Abraham Lincoln?

 
Last week brought Father's Day and a kayak for Papa as well as Papa's birthday--we're all sitting and leaning on the weight bench we gave him on that occasion.
 
 
 
 

 
Mr. W gets full credit for spotting our cups at a graduation party, snagging a picture, and then editing it so adorably!
 
 
After two months of being 3000 miles apart, chief among our pleasures was just being together. This beautiful hike was an added bonus as we marveled at the panorama of the Columbia Gorge. (Thanks, Micah, for taking the picture!)
 
Yes, I've shed many tears at Joel's departure, and yes the sky continues to cry with me. But all that moisture falls upon the fragrant roses of my memories--in sweet, vivid color that will never fade. 
 

6.18.2013

Hackles Up!

Photo Credit

 
A teenager stands before her mother, head hanging and tongue bitten, as her mother corrects her for her recent show of foolishness with that tongue. 
 
A toddler stares her sister down as big sis tells her that she isn’t supposed to touch that, and the toddler stoutly screams in response to this information. 
 
A newlywed groom discovers his bride isn’t quite perfect, and tells her, “You could work on this….”  The bride feels like saying, “If you didn’t love me as I was, why did you marry me anyways?”
 
A girl is late for the umpteenth time, and her inconvenienced friend gently reminds her to be on time the next time.  The girl is mortified. 

 No matter how kindly meant, correction can feel like an onslaught of thumb tacks on bare skin.  It can feel like a thousand throbbing stubbed toes at once or like a bees’ nest worth of burning stings.  And taking that correction without getting your hackles up can feel like standing firm while a house-splintering tsunami wave brushes you aside. 
 
Nearly impossible.
 
I know well the posture of a person who is being criticized but is trying to take it sweetly, because I've been there too many times: clenched nails piercing into skin, jaw locked, muscles tense, speaking only in clipped words, thinking that’s better than launching into a tirade of, “You’re wrong for these one hundred reasons!”
 
It isn’t any better, though.  You might as well launch the tirade, because you’ve already lost the battle.  Pride has already mowed you down, and you’re already ignoring the people who love you the most when they tell you what they want to say the least. 
 

Remember, Correction isn’t Criticism.


I used to think I had a problem with taking criticism well, and even made it a four year goal in my journal to become a master of receiving criticism with a teachable spirit.  And then a dear lady reminded me that correction is not always criticism.  Correction is what a ship’s captain does to the wheel of a ship when it’s headed the wrong way.  It’s what white-out does to a mistake, it’s what I do when a student plays an “A” instead of a “F”, and it’s what those who love you the most care enough to do when you’ve just messed things up in a monumental way.  Even if you haven’t noticed your ship heading in the wrong direction or the huge scrawling on your paper or the wrong note, those who love you probably have.  If it’s in love, it’s not a critical attack to take personally, it’s a kind correction of direction. 

 You’re a precious, hand-painted china teacup: Be humble about it


Watchman Nee once said, “The lower we put something, the safer it is. It is safest to put a cup on the floor."  Mikaela and I once collected miniature porcelain tea sets, and they were our prized possessions.  We put them on a prominent shelf in our bedroom where the sunlight hit them just right, where guests couldn’t help but admire them as soon as they entered, and where we could lovingly fondle them when so inclined.   We soon discovered, however, that the shelf was at just the wrong level so that if you walked past at just the wrong angle, your shoulder would brush the shelf and send it crashing all the way down to the floor. 
 
A few handles were crushed off of teacups the first time that happened.  But we picked up the pieces and put our prized possessions back on the high, precarious shelf, only to have the same thing happen several more times, with even more beautiful pieces crushed to smithereens in front of our heartbroken eyes.  One particularly bad crash left us with only one complete set, and we finally realized that that shelf was not the safest place for the tea sets to be. 
 
Nor is pride a safe shelf on which to place yourself.  Be humble in the face of correction that brings you low and willingly take the low shelf, not because you are dirt, but because you are a precious child of the King of Kings.  In fact, Jeremiah 30:11 promises,

“'For I am with you,' says the LORD, 'to save you; Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, Yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, And will not let you go altogether unpunished.'”

 
As such a precious child of God, ask Him to help you loosen those clenched muscles, defeat those defensive words, humble your pride, and smile at the better direction that awaits!  I know it's something I'll be working on in the months ahead!


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Abdulmajeed Al.mutawee

6.11.2013

My Kids

Time goes on, and seasons bring change.

 
My last recital with my precious students has come and gone.
I profoundly love and admire each one.
 
 
The boy, barely old enough to read, who unflinchingly pierces his finger during his piano lesson to test his blood sugar level but then cries at the prospect of playing in front of people.
 
 
The red-headed girl, not old enough to tell her left from her right, who honestly admits when she's crabby and finds something about me to compliment every time I see her.
 
 
The boy who plays in the hallways when it's not his lesson for the sheer delight of music.
 
 
 
 
The girl who refused to bow in her lesson for fifteen minutes, but finally realized that I am more stubborn than her. She obeys now, but that's not the point. I used to dread her, and now I love her, for I see her preciousness in the eyes of God.
 
 
 
The girl whom no one had taught how to deal with anger and grief and fear.
 
 
The girl who always exclaims, "lessons are over already?"
 
 
The girl who wouldn't talk.
 
 
The little boy who is taller than me now.
 
 
The boy who cried in lessons for fear of dying.

My students--my kids. I have taught you as if you were going to be a concert pianist or violinist. But I have only taught you that way because I wanted to teach you diligence, respect, attentivenes, perseverance, faithfulness, obedience, and responsibility. My ambition for each of you is not for you to become a renowned musician, but for you to submit your life to Jesus Christ and live for Him.
 
You've taught me how to live in the moment. You've taught me bravery. You've reminded me what it's like to be a kid, and why I must be like you in order to enter the Kingdom of God (see Mark 10:14-16). I will never, ever forget these lessons, or any of you for as long as I live. You're each taking a piece of my heart with you.

6.04.2013

Storytelling



Stories have been in my blood since I first heard about that little piggy who trotted off to the market.  As soon as I learned that those curious curlicues on the page formed sounds which somehow formed pictures in my mind and stories in my head, I was a reading addict for life.  In fact, I was that child who would disappear into my book, only to find myself (and rightly so) in hot water a few hours later for ignoring my math, chores, or some such down-to-earth responsibility.    

There was hardly a gap between my figuring out that if those curious curlicues on the page told stories, and I could master those curious curlicues, then I too could tell stories.  From that moment on, storytelling has been in my blood as well.  From the age of five, I have always had a story “in the works.” 
 
I hawked my stories to my aunt.  I entered them in contests.  I came home from the library with a chin-high stack of books on Scotland, because my next novel was set therein.  I scoured name books for hours, searching for just the right name for my protaganist.  And guess what?  I still have stories “in the works.”  I still love every bit of fashioning a world in which the only boundaries are the breadth of my creativity and the size of my hard drive.
 
In the world of storytelling, I am always drawn to the compelling, tear-jerking, life-changing sorts of stories, and again and again I find myself coming out with a bitter taste in my mouth and defeated hopes after reading a pathetic attempt by a modern author at just that sort of story.  But I return again and again to the love story of Hosea and Gomer—it is the most beautiful one I have ever read.  The story of Israel and her God is one of the most heartbreaking.  And the story of David and Jonathan warms my heart with a friendship the likes of which most people have never known. 
 
Those stories are a writer’s deepest well from which to dip inspiration: God is a Master Storyteller, and because of Him we love stories and love sharing meaningful ones.  It truly is in our blood.  In fact, we each are in the middle of our own epic stories, and if you are a Christian, the Author has whispered in your ear, “It’s all right—it ends happily.”  With relief, you can make it through the tragedy that intervenes because your story ends happily ever after in the truest and most complete sense of the cliché. 

Any story has a villian, however, and so does storytelling.  It has been grossly perverted by Satan, for he knows that a good story can change a life.  Stories now are lowered to the level of pure entertainment, thrill rides for the reader and money in the bank for the author.  But God didn’t give us the story-telling gene so we could be amused.  He gave it to us so He could communicate the greatest story of all to our hearts and so we could pass the story on. 
 
So what would happen if in your story-telling, you told only the stories that were worthy of being told?  In your reading, if you read only the stories that were worthy of being read?  And in your living, if you lived only the story the Author wanted you to live?  I know what would happen: those compelling, tear-jerking, life-changing stories would begin to emerge in ways you never imagined. 

Photo Credit: Reading in Public
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