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

8.27.2013

Mirrored


Photo Credit

Life was becoming a complicated labyrinth.  A door would creak open, and I would slide through, edging my face around to glance in the room, when without warning the door would crash closed. Stumbling back, I would sometimes narrowly avoid an imprint of the doorknob on my stomach.  Sometimes I was not so lucky. 
 
Doors lined the hallway, shutting me out: red doors, white-trimmed doors, steel doors, ancient mahogany doors, and dutch doors.  But an open door no longer meant opportunity to me; it meant pain.  I crouched in the dusky hallway beside the last door that had crushed my toe, despair throbbing through me. 
 
“God!” I rumbled under my breath, but it rolled through the hallway like a thunder clap. 
“I don’t understand.  I want to trust you, but I still can’t see you.  Why are you hiding from me?  Why have you abandoned me?  You told me to follow you, but every door I think you want me to go through is slammed in my face.  I am alone and…” I choked on the sob in my throat, and bent down my head.  “I give up.” 
 
Loneliness had a hand on one shoulder, Fear had a hand on the other, and I welcomed my new companions with a torrent of tears as bitter as vinegar running down my face.  I wallowed in my prison. 
 
Suddenly, the warm weight of my companions’ hands lifted.  I scrambled to my feet in surprise, and I felt a new bitterness rise up within me.  Not even Loneliness and Fear would stay with me?  But as my eyes searched the darkness to catch sight of where they had gone, I saw a new figure slipping through the gloom. 
 
He was but a little taller than me, an old man with tufts of white hair and a merciful, fatherly smile.  He strode over to the door that was directly across the hall from me, a door I had yet to try with carvings of the sun and stars in the dark wood. 
 
He unlocked it with a skeleton key from his pocket, turned the doorknob, and pushed it open.  “Come, my child,” he invited. 
 
I hesitated briefly, and then without a backwards glance at the undending hallway that had been my prison for so long, I stepped in.  I half expected the door to spring shut on me, but it remained open, and the old man followed me into the room. 
 
It was a huge square room, and the ceiling was one giant skylight.  Ribbons of yellow sunshine cascaded into the room and warmed the hardwood floor.  But what drew my open-mouthed awe was the walls.  Nearly every square inch of wall space was covered with a mirror. 
 
I craned my neck back, and still could not see the end of the mirrors.  I began to wander the room, trailing my fingers along the frame of each exquisite mirror.  There was a large oval one with an ornate scrollwork frame.  Next to it hung a beautiful mirror with brass vines clustering all around it and delicate leaves and buds that seemed almost to turn to the sunshine that swept the room.  Square mirrors, diamond mirrors, frameless mirrors, mirrors as large as a table…there must have been thousands of mirrors lining the walls wherever I turned. 
 
But as I backed up to the center of the room and swiveled to take in all the mirrors at a glance, that same old feeling of confusion began to overtake me, because I realized with a pang that every mirror was useless.  They were all so old, so antiqued, that a reflection was nearly impossible to make out.  The room was flooded with light, but every mirror was dulled with the patina of time and freckled with spots and scratches. 
 
“What is wrong, child?”  The old man asked from the doorway where he still stood. 
I turned to him.  “This is a beautiful room,” I began.  “But why is there this great collection of mirrors that are so old and in need of repair?  What is the point?” 
“Why?  What do you see in the mirrors?” The man asked pointedly. 
 
I stepped forward to a tiny silver mirror with an inscription in a foreign language winding around its frame. I squinted at the mirror and could just make out the shape of a face—I could hardly even tell if it was my face, for it looked nothing like me, but I decided that it was merely a distorted silhouette. 
 
Still staring at the mirror, I replied, “I see the silhouette of a face, but nothing else.” 
And then, it dawned on me.  I turned to the old man, excitement filling my voice.  “Is this my mission?  Am I the one who must fix these mirrors, repair them until they reflect God’s light with perfection?”
 
The man smiled a benediction upon me.  “No, no.  These mirrors are not broken, they are merely an enigma.  It is rather your eyes that must be repaired.  Do you remember when you were a little girl? When you were a child, you spoke as a child.  You understood as a child, you thought as a child; but when you became a woman, you put away childish things.”
 
The man came over to me, put his hands gently on my shoulders, and turned me back to the mirror, and I stared into its darkness again.  “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, like your understanding as a toddler.  But then we shall see face to face.  Now you know in part, but then you shall know just as your friends know you.[i] 
 
As he spoke those words the mirror before me, and indeed every other mirror in the room, began to clear.  The flood of sunlight from above washed over them and it was as if a thousand stars were gleaming from the walls.  Then the light intensified and grew together as one until I could hardly see the mirror before me any more because of the great light that covered it. 
 
I shielded my eyes and stumbled back in astonishment, for the light was becoming a wall of light, and the wall itself was becoming one great skylight.  I turned to the man to ask him what was happening, but he was no longer there.   I glanced back to the skylight, and face to face with me was Jesus Christ Himself.  His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire.  His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength[ii]. 
 
Electric shock coursed through my body and I suddenly knew: His was the face I had seen silhouetted in the mirror.  But why had I seen His face when I had been looking into a mirror?  The mystery and beauty overtook me, and I fell to my trembling knees before Him. 
 
“My Lord,” was all I could whisper.  “Why did I see your face in the mirror?”
 
He spoke, and His voice was as the sound of many waters[iii].  “You, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.[iv] 
 
I lifted my head to look at Him, and as I did, I was back in my hallway, sitting where I had been wallowing only a few minutes earlier.  I scrambled to get up and something clattered to the floor from my lap.  With surprise, I realized that it was the tiny silver mirror with the inscription that I had gazed into on the wall.  I bent to pick it up, fingering the scrolling frame, and as I stared into it I saw the silhouette of Christ that I had seen earlier.  Although it was just as dim, in just as old of a mirror, I knew my eyes were repaired, for I could just catch a glimpse of His glory. 
 
And the inscription that had been foreign back in the room of mirrors now stood out to me as clearly as though the old man were repeating it again: “Now you see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.”
 
Tears filled my eyes, not the vinegar tears of before, but cleansing tears, and I whispered, "I will praise you, Lord, even in the hallway."
 
With those words still on my lips I realized that the hallway was no longer dark.  As I lifted my head in the new light I could see what I hadn’t been able to see before.  The walls were lined with mirrors, of every shape and size. 

 



[i] I Corinthians 13:11-12
[ii] Revelation 1:13-16
[iii] Revelation 1:13-16
[iv] 2 Corinthians 3:18
Photo Credit: aussiegal

8.21.2013

Joel's Graduation

On Friday, Papa and I travelled to Ooook-lahoma (where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain, and the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain). And yes, I sang the song as I exited the airport!

The occasion was Joel's graduation from law school! I was coming in on the end of a seven year journey that brought knowledge, opportunities, and special relationships to Joel. To gain those things, however, took hard work, discipline, and character. To be able to gather together with Joel's parents, grandmother, and several close friends and honor this achievement was beautiful. And to reunite with Joel after nearly two months of separation was joy indescribable.

 
 
There was a beautiful banquet on Friday night. Here, they are honoring the students graduating magna cum laude. I had no idea Joel was graduating magna cum laude, but I was so proud when they called his name to honor him!


 
There were two ceremonies on Saturday. This was the "hooding" ceremony.

 
Joel led us in two hymns.


 
The ceremony ended with a time of prayer for the graduates, which was extraordinarily precious as the professors, classmates, families, and board gathered around and offered up petitions to God for each man and woman as they continue on in the path God has set before them. What better way to close one chapter of life and open another? 
 
 
This weekend would never have been possible without Joel's parents and their support, vision, and provision for Joel during all these years of school. They put flesh on his dream and encouraged Joel every step of the way.

 
Dear friends of Joel's who live in OK and came to all the festivities.
 
 

 
Joel and Grammy


On Sunday, we visited Joel's friends and their lovely ranch. It was delightful to get to know them better. Joel and I didn't have much opportunity to "sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin' lazy circles in the sky," but we sure did relish our weekend together.

I've come to dread the good-byes and long even more for the hellos. But it is the temporary season we are in, and as Joel has been faithful to remind me--perhaps it is an opportunity for us to understand and appreciate even more the time of watchful anticipation and eager preparation that the Church should be in as she awaits the arrival of the Bridegroom.

8.15.2013

Sunshine Days



I love road trips!  Especially when they involve warm sun, people you love, and a new Adventures in Odyssey radio drama album!  Judging from the photos above, Susanna also loves when they include opportunities to throw people off of jet skies.  (Although, to give full disclosure, the photos started as Papa hamming it up for the camera until he lost his balance and actually fell in!)

Our road trip led to Eastern Washington, where we met up with our favorite cousins to go on another tubing adventure down the Yakima river.  All went well, except for the part where the current shoved our flotilla of tubes against a sheer rock cliff, turning Mikaela's tube over and nearly forcing her under.  Mama had her back, though--praise the Lord for her strong arms! 
An intense game of "Four on the Couch" with our cousins.

Susanna and Cody

Serious (except Trevor, who's goofy)

Goofy (except Trevor, who's serious)
 
The "grown ups"--clockwise from back: Papa, Mama, Cousin Peggy, Delmer, and Michelle

After spending a few days with the cousins we drove out to Grandma and Grandpa's lake house in Idaho, but the next day we went to Silverwood, a gigantic amusement park, with those same cousins.  We spent a wonderful day there: the bonus was that no one got permanently lost and I managed not to get sick on any of the roller coasters--hooray! 

We spent a lovely evening with my grandpa on Mama's side.

Mikaela mailed a post card to Joel every few days when we were at Grandma and Grandpa's.  This involves walking about a half mile up their steep switchbacks to the long, quaint row of the community's mailboxes.  I love that right next to the mailboxes they have a phone-booth sized case of books with the title, "Library." 
 


The weather was gorgeous the entire week, so our daily schedule went something like this: sleep in, eat breakfast, get swimsuit on and go for a dip, eat lunch, go for another dip, eat dinner, play games.  Of course, there was a generous amount of ice cream in there, along with a boat cruise one day for good measure!
 
Grandpa kept us laughing!
 
Grandma kept us eating!

Jonah kept us smiling!

...or shrieking!


 
Mikaela and I turned 23 while we were at the lake, and we got to go water skiing on our birthday!  We both have water skiied before, but it had been a few years.  Mikaela got up on her first try, while I plowed water until I was doing the splits and had to let go several times before I got up.  Notice in the photo in the right upper corner the expression on my face, but also the expression on Papa's face as he watches from the dock, wanting to help me out! 
 

For our birthday dinner, Mama made this amazing Greek recipe that I had been craving from Pinterest.  It was delicious!

My grandparents are special people! 
 

Grandpa and I
 

Grandpa and Mikaela
 
Melanie made the amazing book-paper necklace I am wearing!  This sister of mine is such a talented jewelry creator! 
 

Mikaela and I cried over each other's gifts, knowing that this could be the last birthday we spend together for awhile, and then we laughed at each other for crying.  She gave me a treasured necklace with rock, paper, and scissors charms because that is our favorite way to decide who does what in any given situation.  Half the time we both do the exact same sign, and the other half she wins, but that's OK.  I gave her the silhouette you can see in this photo of us around age 3 or 4, printed on canvas.  With such sentimental gifts, is it any wonder we cried?
 

It was such a special, emotional birthday!  From all the sweet gifts to the very sweet dessert (a family favorite--Sydney Sundaes!), it was a day to remember. 

God even gave us an enthralling thunder and lightning show for our birthday!  We all sat together in darkness, watching the lighting explode over the expanse of the lake and counting the seconds between the light and the sound.  The lightning was phenomenal, but so was the feeling of simply being together as a family, saying little things or saying nothing at all, but still loving deeply.
On the final day of our trip we met up with Aunt Carol, Mama's sister, and spent a wonderful afternoon with her!
And after seeing Aunt Carol, we went to the wedding reception of our friend Meghan's brother.  It was so good to see her and her family again.  Some of you may remember that Meghan is our "triplet", since we share a birthday in the same year.  We gave her this sign for her birthday and talked up a storm the whole evening! 
 
When we arrived back at Grandma and Grandpa's house that night, knowing the next day brought the final leg of our road trip, Mikaela spontaneously suggested, "Let's go jump in the lake!" 
 
It was about 11 o' clock, and lightning was still glowing over the distant horizon, but Mikaela, Susanna, and I ran across the dock and jumped into the warm water.  It felt amazing. 
 

8.06.2013

Jesus Wept {With Me}

Please Read...
 
This was going to be the blog post where I told you about Joel's new job, miraculously provided and providentially miraculous. Two weeks ago, he and I talked and prayed concerning this very job, keenly aware that there was no such current opening. While we were praying, an email landed in Joel's inbox--the exact job opening! Days of waiting later, and then he got called in for an interview--Hallelujah! I told God that He would get all the glory for this one, for only He could have orchestrated it so clearly.

And then...no job. So, just in case I've somehow given you the impression that mine is a charmed life filled from dawn till dusk with teaching music to angelic sweethearts, happily planning the "perfect" wedding, and drinking lattes and getting pedicures in the in-between times, allow me to set the record straight. This was not in the plan, this wasn't what I wanted--and I had been convinced from the bottom of my toes to the top of my head that my plan was also God's plan.

In the very moment of rebellious doubt, came the unrelenting conviction to fall on my knees before my God and to praise Him for His sovereign work in our lives. There was no smile on my face. There was no great peace in my heart. I cried, because the death of a vision hurts. I knew God had a beautiful plan, but nevertheless, I cried, because right then it hurt.

Jesus knew the beautiful plan for His friend Lazarus, and yet He wept. He cried because loss hurts. His tears didn't mean that He didn't trust God; they were an acknowledgement of the pain that comes from living in this fallen world. Jesus knows the beautiful plan for His children--for you and for Joel and I. And yet He still cries with us. And then He whispers in our ear, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy [comes] in the morning (Psalms 30:5b)."

So I cried, but as I prayed and praised, I also trusted. God gets the glory, even with no job.



Oh, and if you know of any jobs open for a brilliant, eloquent, godly, principled, friendly, diligent, patriotic lawyer, drop me a note, won't you?




Photo Credit: Taylor Dawn Fortune

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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