Lake Gem

Lake Gem

From the water, I see a pale leg-tepee on the far shore. 

It might be a woman lying on her back, knees bent, or it could be a patch of exposed tree bark. I’m not sure which, from my vantage point in the kayak. Things have a way of looking different from the water.

But, as I tour the nooks and crannies of the small lake, startling turtles off logs and generously watering my thighs as I paddle, I see it is indeed a woman. Her back is flat against the earth, feet planted and knees touching.

turtle in lake

At the lake’s center, I stop paddling {skewing the results of the GPS-enabled workout app keeping track of my pace and distance} and lean back, looking up at the blue sky streaked with clouds. I let my gaze wander down to the end of the lake where the fishermen gather on a grassy knoll.  There, clouds hang low and dramatic, stretched thin and long, shaded with darker grey. They look painted like a stage backdrop, the sky depicted skillfully, if a bit heavy-handed with light and shadow. 

branch lake

As I float aimlessly, I notice him now — a stocky man in a royal blue tank sitting still atop a picnic table on the shore to my right. He doesn’t move.

We three — sit, lay, float — a triangle of tranquility.

I am impressed by their skill at being still. Their commitment to inactivity. Their choice to be small and let quiet overtake them.

I am working hard to convince myself this lake date is not about a workout. I’m struggling with a notion that honors the opposite of motion.

heron lake

How obvious, I think, that God is big and we are small. Yet, do we experience life this way?

How often do we take time to be still and recall small?

My life has become huge. My problems, my worries, my to-do list. Simply enormous. God is a tiny tickle in the back of my mind, a quick prayer for safety while driving, a rushed morning devotional.

My need to manage our busy life (with three kids — 5, 10, and 12) has grown to gigantic proportions. I have gotten into the self-indulgent habit of magnifying everything, from my dissatisfaction with my messy closets to my frustration with my aging physique. Nothing is good enough for me.

lake view

But, this quiet morning on the water, I hear dogs barking on the distant shore and a hint of traffic noise even farther off. As I stare at my still companions on the shore, I recognize with a sudden and sharp clarity we are at the center of something far larger, and it is beautiful.

kayak lake 2

For a heart-stopping moment, my view zooms out incrementally, from the lake to the hills to the surrounding town and region. There is concrete around us and stores and roads and busy people leading their rushing lives, but we … we three are tucked into an Eden moment.

We three are consciously still players in an impossibly serene pastoral scene, the lake an opal ringed by layers of pine-and-maple-green emerald, the moody sky graduated blue textured with dusky clouds.

We are held, gemlike, perfect and tiny, in the palm of this world … and in the even larger hands of its Creator.

Lord, though we are faced daily with myriad demands in our hectic modern world, please help us pause and remember You. Though we know in our minds that you are larger than our petty day-to-day worries, infuse this truth into our hearts so that we may walk today with our shoulders lifted and heads high, confident in Your ability and secure in Your peace. Amen.

 

{Creativity Series} Igniting the Spark

{Creativity Series} Igniting the Spark

It was the most unlikely time to write a poem.

Three a.m.

I’d just gotten up to nurse my 9-month-old baby girl, while my toddler girl (just 2 ½) slept nearby. It was a season when I was exhausted, frazzled, and had little to no time for myself.

But, a phrase floated into my head, something a friend had said of baby J: “She’s a peach.”

And, I {who hadn’t finished a poem since I completed college almost ten years earlier} knew it was the seed of a poem.

So, I started writing, scribbling on the notepad in my bedside table. The next day, driving the girls to visit my parents’ farm in Ohio, I completed the poem in my head.

I didn’t write another poem for three years. Then, I was given Nature Girl, for my Caroline.

Two more years passed. I had gotten up early with my new baby boy. My sister was in from out of town, visiting. It was definitely not a good time to write a poem.

But, I had asked my little brown book for poetry. And, sometimes, God likes to show up big, so He gave me Elemental. My first praise poem.

I like to think of those precious few scattered poems, over years, as God-gifts. Though they came with no strings attached, it was almost as if they bore little notes:

  • “See what you and I can do together!”
  • “I made you for this – and so much more.”
  • “If I can turn water into wine, I can certainly help you fulfill your creative desires.
  • Trust me, and see where I lead you.”

crabapple blooms

***

Our God created us creative.

We were formed in His image, as scripture says, and who could be more creative than God? <—Tweet This!

He, of, neon-pink-and-orange sunsets, of delicate seashell whorls, of drifts of crabapple blossoms, unbearably sweet?

He delights when we write a song or paint or photograph; when we allow ourselves the time and space to cultivate the gifts of creativity He’s expressly given each of us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and when we feel that ache to create, it’s God nudging us to become more fully ourselves.  <—Tweet This!  He’s asking us to lean into who He has created us to be.

Yes, He’s created us Moms, Wives, Daughters, Sisters, Friends, Home Managers, Career Women – and all the myriad other roles we fulfill. But, He’s also given us more than jobs and roles– he’s sheltered within us all, a spark.

It’s that little brightness that, once kindled for Him, will ignite into a holy fire, beautiful to behold.

So, I want to assure you, the mom on the other side of this screen, reading:

  • You have that spark within you.
  • You have something bright and creative to share with this world.
  • You can kindle that ache for something more, that longing to create, into a sustainable fire that will enrich your life and the lives of others around you.

crabapple petals

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting regularly about moms and creativity. I’ll share stories of other creative moms’ ups and downs, challenges and triumphs; I’ll talk about God’s desires for us and what scripture has to say; and I’ll share practical tips and strategies for uncovering or recovering your creativity.

I hope you’ll join me!

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This post was gladly shared with Laura’s Playdates with God at The Wellspring and Jen’s Soli Deo Gloria at Finding Heaven Today.

Nature Girl: A Poem

For Friday, for you, a bit of poetry. I wrote this for my oldest daughter, when she was five.

For Caroline

Arms swinging, down by the creek,
muddy flip-flops flapping,
ponytail unraveling, she’s
lifting stones,
shallow splashing,
rock hopping, eyes shining.

Palmfuls of treasure mount–
a feather, a broken tile,
a crayfish claw, a freshwater shell,
dragonfly wings, tiny pebbles;
a bleeding heart she packages
in a folded maple leaf.

She’s tale telling and honeysuckle smelling
down by the creek
where it seems
trees rise higher,
green is brighter,
and the air around her vibrates
with joy.

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth May