Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"there is a River
that flows from Calvary....
there is a River that never
shall run dry...." old hymn

flow, River, flow.
our hearts are parched.
dried of compassion and love.
our vision is so narrow.
our thinking so small.
our fears like giants, taunting
us. and rage seeping out, and
mixing with our fake bravado.
crushing all the beauty.
shattering who we are for God.

my youngest son came home
for the week-end. my oldest, still
in college, here, too. they rented
the movie GRAN TARINO. clint eastwood.
get it. watch it.

clint is this bitter, old guy.
wife just died. spoiled, adult
children. his house gradually
surrounded by hmong families.
gang violence. he is hostile.
doesn't like anyone. annoyed
by all. loves only his dog.

his wife, before she died, made
the young, irish priest promise that
he would get her husband to confession
before he died. impossible challenge one.

it is subtle. the story line.
brick upon brick. ultimately, this old
guy cannot help himself. the love of
two hmong teenagers (brother/sister)begins
to crack eastwood's brittle exterior.

he feels more loved by his hmong neighbors
than his own, superficial, disrespecting adult
children. a hmong gang takes on this brother/
sister team. it fires eastwood up. he tackles
it first with violence. beats a gang member
brutally. pulls out his gun. his mind travels
back to vietnam, and the scourge of soul
when he had to kill.

without divulging
the brilliant evolvement
of love, let me just say "dirty harry"
was able, again, to produce a great
movie. though no spiritual thread was
woven into the story, it brought me back
to love.

"to write the love
of God above, would drain
the ocean dry. nor could the
scroll contain the whole...though
stretched from sky to sky." hymn

one of my children from boston...
a boy i utterly loved from the ghetto.
went with me and 11 other children
as my guests to israel to run my very
first marathon..found me on facebook.
from nine and ten years of age to now
42 yrs.. married with two children.

his mother was a woman who worked
in my neighborhood. someone i led
to Jesus. she, too, found me on facebook.
devout Christian. connected again after at
least 25 years ago. River flow. River flow.

a couple has been moving in
next door today. 107degrees.
it is 9:30p.m., and it hits me that
maybe they need taylor, my son, to
help. and me. i tear off my night-gown.
pull on shorts and teeshirt.
run next door and knock. they are basically
done for today. but we meet. and i had only
been home minutes when the knock comes
to my front door. the washing machine.
help? please? taylor runs over. they get
the job done. a new bridge built.

love transforms us.
takes the hardness and coldness
out of our hearts, and washes the rigidity
and sarcasm with purity. changes our
world view.

River come.
oh, River, come.
in the glistening waters
of your Blood, wash over

sir, can i help you?
hey, kid, you want to play catch?
oh, what beautiful eyes you have.

spontaneous moments.
unheralded. authentic.
Jesus' Blood. our River.

oh, River, drench our desolation.
wash us. that your love, in us,
will change the world.

Friday, June 19, 2009

motherhood is beautiful
and hard and, often, way over
my head. especially when it
comes to tough love.

one of my sons lives in a city
close by. he is handsome, brilliant.
can talk to anyone, and write circles
around me.

but living skills?
keeping his word?
meaning to, but doing it is
another story altogether.

i drove to where he lives
ten days ago because he was
needing a bicycle. his walking
to work, two hours a day, demoralized
me, to say nothing of him.

so, i picked him up.
took him to o'brien's market
for his favorite, tri-tip sandwich,
and headed to walmart to check out

mom! i have a great idea!
we could use your bank card,
and get me clear-wire service for
my computer. it's only $29 a mo!
well...it goes up to $44 after three

BUT, mom, i have a job, and i
could pay you every month. like,
today is wednesday, and i get paid
friday. i'll give you the first month then.

for a brief moment,
my brain decided to sit on a shelf
somewhere, and i went along
with him. we bounded into the
clearwire store. i asked if we had time
to test it and return it. yes, one week.''

i laid my card on the counter, and we
walked out. tall and proud. i had the happiest
son in the world.

well, friday came, and i called about my
first payment. our agreement. his words
began to slide through me with a chill. a
dark realization. this utterly-amazing son
of mine, finding it hard to navigate life. not
doing what he said he wiould do, had just
displayed his life-worn behavior.

darling. you are an adult.
do NOT tell me you will do something
if you aren't. a person's word is his
character. shapes the form of his life
journey. establishes trust or negates

i bought $50 wowrth of minutes for my phone
so you can always reach me.

AND, MOM, i was so lonely.
so down. so i took a nice girl
(you would REALLY like her!)
on a date.

the first month, and you already
have failed on your word.

i walked around for two days.
disgusted with myself. my son
does not drink or smoke or do drugs.
his addiction is a specific game online.

i knew better.
again, in a subtle moment of weakness,
(after all, we, as a family, had been through
the wilderness and the flood), i had created
a mess for myself.

and i knew
i'd face hell for
my decision.

day seven arrived.
i drove to where my son
lives, and knocked on the door.
i asked him for the clearwire box
and chords. within moments,
i was scorched by the heat of
rage spewing everywhere.

you are not worthy to be a mother.
you are worse than my worst girlfriend.
ouch! his girlfriends are the bottom-of-the-list girls.
i don't ever want to see you again.
i am going to change my last name.
i am no longer in this family, and i don't
want to EVER again be your son!!

i'll leave out the most choice words.
nasty, and outside my vocabulary.

listen, honey, i know i've not been perfect.
i know i've failed you. will you forgive me?


well, no matter what,
i'm taking the box back to
the store. of you can't keep
your word the first month,
there's no question i can't depend
on it.

finally, i quietly walked next door
to the woman in charge of the program.
with young people, 18-21, chosen.
to teach life skills. free counselling. etc.
i needed support. i meant business, and
every single second of this scenario was
excruciating. if i wilted now, all the
tough love i'd doled out for the last 8 mos.
would go down the tube.

i'm a lover. let's be happy.
for the first time, ever, i had
stuck to my guns. unbending
to the schrewed manipulation.

the director
walked out with the box.
i cried, and thanked her for ALL
she was doing for my son.

ann, give him time. it'll be okay.

it sure didn't feel okay.

as i was almost to the freeway
for home, my son called. sobbing.

please don't get on the freeway, yet.
i didn't mean all those horrible things i
said, mom. you and i are close. right?!
i know i'm the black sheep in the family, but...

you are NOT the black sheep in our family.
not for one single second has that thought EVER
entered my mind. i'm so proud to be your mom.
i utterly believe in you. you are my son with
a calling on his life.

i drove back to where he lived.
we stopped and bought two of his
favorite dvd's he could watch on
his computer, and some groceries.

if we don't learn to stand
by our word growing up, then we
are adults still playing the same games.
still manipulating. we become grown-ups,
doing the same games, but more polished.
smoother. easier to dress ourselves in ways
not noticed at a glance.

i wish every morning had a clean,
summer sky. but they don't. some
days the wind swirls. thunder roars. people
have foul moods.

that is what the Redeemer, the Savior,
is all about. redemption. cleansing of
the carnality we are born with.

tough love.
it is not pretty.
but it is the foundation
of our destinies. we owe
it to our children to live through
the pain...to the other side...so
God can depend on us to be
His disciples. His world-changers.

Monday, June 8, 2009

"commend me to a bruised brother, a
broken reed. for the Man of Sorrows is never
far from him." robert murray mccheyne

bruised and broken.
like Jesus. our goal.

can i keep the devil from taking
my song? pastor bobby's
words still ring in my ears.

plant my feet
on the Solid Rock.
held steady by Jesus.
when the storms roar, and
i sway in my pain, may the song

the business goes under.
you lose your job. someone you
love more than you love yourself
dies. can the devil take our song?
can't let him do it.
can't let him win.

it was a normal week day.
i drove to modesto to see my
doctor. picked up a steaming-hot
bowl of cheesy-potato soup to go.
cradled the bowl, with a plastic lid,
deep in my lap. as i pulled right, onto
the main street, making a sharp turn,
the soup flew.
lid off. all over me, and toward the passenger seat
where i had important papers.
as i reached to grab the bowl,
i automatically turned the steering wheel
in that direction, and jumped the curb
on one side.

standing by my car. stunned.
soup down my black dress. chew-
ing on my bottom lip. unable
to bring the car back over the curb.
i stood.
cell phone forgotten at home.
my song fading.

a police car pulled up to see that
everything was okay. i explained my
delimna. before i could mentally devise
a solution, the officer looked at me, and
said....i can tell by your eyes that you
have been drinking!

excuse me?!! what did you say?

you have been drinking!
i can tell by your eyes.

too stunned to tell him i was ten
days away from eye surgery on the
muscles of my eyes...that one pupil
or the other wanders to the outside,
i just gaped at him.
unable to dialogue that i have NEVER
liked alcohol. how it tastes or how it
makes me feel. i NEVER drink.

but before i knew it, they were
putting me in the backseat of the
police car. charging me with a DUI.
no breathilizer. just because..my eyes.

the song?
it was gone.
replaced by a dirge of terror and
horror and shock.

through the grid in the police car,
my voice trembling, i said, draw my blood!

it was done by a nurse.
i was booked into the women's jail
in the next city, in the middle of nowhere.
stripped. finger-printed. face mugged.
one phone call allowed, and i could not
think of one phone number. not one.

a path to higher ground.
well, i didn't like it. didn't want it.
knew i had been wronged, and did not
want any music.

finally, i was led outside.
three massive, tilled fields between
me and the road. was told i had five minutes
to cross this spanse, and catch the last bus
of the night to modesto.

my instincts kicked in.
i knew how to run.
kicking off my
flip-flops. eyes down so as to miss
the holes. face covered in tears, i
started running for my life. as the bus
was pulling away, i slapped the door, and it opened.

my eye surgery is done.
all charges have been dropped
because no alcohol or drugs were
found in my blood. it was a dear friend
who called out of the blue, who retained
an attorney to represent me. i had told
every young woman arrested after me about
Jesus. and He, through it all, did NOT aban-
don me.

i flunked with my song.
i wasn't noble in my brokenness.
but God used this in my life. the pain
DID become my gift.

"i want to scale the utmost heights,
and catch a gleam of glory bright;
but still i'll pray 'til Heaven i've found,
my prayer, my aim is highter ground." (old hymn)

"i will exalt you, O LORD, for You have lifted
me out of the depths and did not let my enemies
gloat over me...weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning." ps.30

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

pastor bobby said
the devil can't take my song!

i shout out
huh-uh! no, sir!
it is mine to sing, and
he is NOT going to quiet
my music.

oh, the devil tries. yes, he does.
he reminds me of all my
failures. he whispers that i am
weak. not worthy. but he can't
have my song!

my sister has cancer.
one of my children feels
very alone where he is.
i'm not always sure how
i will pay the bills. it is not
always easy to hang on to the
music, but the devil
can't take my song!

it is not hard to sing
on good days. when
everything just seems to
fall into place. the children
are thriving. friends embracing
me. enough money in the bank.
there is music everywhere.
i hear it in the trees. in
the laughter of those around
me. the chirping of the birds.

but, i trip, and fall
on little things if i'm not
careful. a criticism.
a minor collision. a miserable
work-out at the gym.
and my song begins to fade.
like the sun crawling below the
horizon. so subtle, the way
darkness settles over us. the way
music leaves me.

just when the devil
thinks my song is gone,
i reach out to you.

let's join in our sorrows,
and our struggles. let's
become a choir. our voices
raised to the ONLY One
who can make the music.
the only One who knows the
song. let's sing!

the devil can't
take my song
because he knows
NOTHING about melodies.
there is NO music where
he dwells. we will not
hang our instruments in
the trees. we will NOT
be quieted.

pastor bobby got it right.
the devil doesn't get it,
but he can't take away
our song.
even the rocks and hills cry out.
the song lives!

"He has given me a new song
to sing. a hymn of praise to
our God. many will see what He
has done. they will put their trust in
the Lord." ps.40:2-3