Friday, May 10, 2013


I had a puzzle lay itself out for me the other night at Bible study. We are currently working on Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts and we had hit the chapter entitled "Trust: The Bridge to Joy". It was a difficult discussion, with admissions of roadblocks, hindrances and hobbled aspirations.

One of my childhood fears has been bridges. I bear a physical scar from taking a plunge off a mountain footbridge head first. I had trusted the man-made railing and leaned heavy as I was antagonizing my cousins below. They were catching minnows in the rocky pools. In one moment, the railing gave way and I landed in the creek.

Seventeen stitches later I said goodbye to the enjoyment a bridge could bring.

Later years brought anxiety and stress in a simple drive over causeways, suspension bridges and even lookouts on mountain ranges. My knees would go rubbery just getting near the edge. That sense of falling was at the back of my throat, waiting to squeal.

During the study another memory came forward...Gym class and the balance beam. It actually made me look forward to PE. I loved to walk the narrow plank and in remembering, that old fear tried to shout it down.

How could a young girl who had no trust of bridges walk on a narrow piece of wood? My memories were pure delight in jumping on that beam, perching, learning a twirl or leaping. How was that possible?

The thing that I learned about a balance beam is that your eyes need to stay focused at the end of the beam--the end of the walk. If you looked on either side, or your feet, you would start a domino effect and the flapping of arms and a flailing dance of balance would begin.

If I could keep my eyes on my destination, with practice, I could do so many things on that one plank bridge.

When I look back and see where I have fallen, many times it was when I trusted in man's railing--my own pride or putting trust in someone who was simply a fallen human.

I remember another from the Bible-Peter. He too stepped out to walk a difficult path. He saw Jesus out on the water and said, "...if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

And so the walk began with Jesus beckoning. Amazingly Peter walked on water, but there was a storm. And once he started to look at the waves and how high the water was on his feet, he started to sink. You see, Peter took his eyes of his goal: Christ. And he sunk like a rock.  In a desperate cry he was able to get some words out and asked Jesus to save him.

Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” Matthew 14:31 (MSG)

If I continue my walk--and it is a narrow one--and I keep my eyes on my Goal which is Christ Jesus, then I can do anything on the narrow beam of life.

The puzzle completes itself and there is Joy in that discovery.

People will eventually let you down, they crumble sometimes under pressure and can barely keep their own selves above water. Why not trust in The One who will drop everything and grab your hand and keep you from falling?

Time to leave man's bridge and put one foot in front of the other on that narrow beam. Don't take your eyes off the goal or you will fall. That goal is Christ and He calls you to step out to JOY!

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

About Dot

She was about as tall as her nickname was short. She was about as abrupt too--she had to be sometimes. She was a cancer survivor and didn't want to waste time fiddlin' in her 70's. You could always count on Dot to tell it like it was.

She was a transplant from up north that had lived her long enough to be considered a native. She told stories of riding horses in to another town before the highway was put in.

She managed her small parcel of land from the seat of a riding lawnmower. I knew she was feeling pretty spry when I heard that engine running next door.

When she replaced her fence, she kept the neighbor gate between our houses. My dog would wait there patiently while I hung out the laundry. He knew she would be there with a treat and a pat.
Every once in a while my phone would ring--and she'd ask to meet me at that neighbor gate. She'd be there with a smile and a pie, or extra of whatever she was busy making that day.

Ever since her "guardian" dog Katie passed away a few years ago, I sensed a little more sadness in that smile. She  walked a little more slowly and that mower took a little longer in the yard. She would never admit getting attached to a dog, but I do believe she missed that poodle-ish dog. Oh how she would complain about her barking--but she was the best watch dog Dot ever had.

And then there was Fred...We were introduced to him as "Fred--he's just a friend". From then on when we saw that truck pull in  we'd know that Dot and "just a friend Fred" were working on a project for her house, the pond or the yard.

One time, after a particularly busy hurricane season, my sister in law stopped by to visit and mentioned that Dot was on the roof. I ran out to see Dot--with pink curlers in her hair--and Fred, patching up some loose shingles on the roof of her house. When I begged her to come down off that wet roof, she assured me she was almost done. When I told her she was scaring me up there she just laughed and waved me off like a fly that was interrupting her work.

I am going to miss my dear neighbor with her rumbling lawnmower, the air gun pops taking out vagrant squirrels and her generosity of baked goods. But most of all I will miss her heart.

Once she asked me where my son was. Expecting to hear about a move or college, I shared that he was in prison for a while. My eyes welled up and she smiled. She then shared that her son was also in prison and she gave me the best advice.

She said, "Remember Kelly, at least we know our boys have a roof over their head and somethin' to eat. And we'll never worry about where they are." I thank God for my neighbor, she helped me get through one of the roughest patches of parenthood.

To make sure she knew she was loved, I asked her one day last year if she knew Jesus. It was like I was asking if she knew we were in Florida. She had given her life a long time ago to Jesus at a Baptist church.

So like my son, I know where Dot is today and I don't have to worry about a roof over her head or if she has enough to eat. She is with our Father in Heaven...and I like to think Katie and just a friend Fred were waiting patiently at The Gate for her.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35 (NASB)