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The Old Apple Tree

P1010376

It was fear that held spring back,

fear that winter would return.

P1010336The old apple tree waited patientlyP1010350

for the cold wind to give way

to the softer breezes of spring.

At first a few shy blossoms opened

then a few more.

Soon the old tree looked young and vibrant,

beautifully draped in pink and white petals

which would fall silently to the ground.

For a time the tree looked bare,

stripped back to rough bark.

Only then will the fruit begin to growP1010367

fear steps in and the Gardener steps up.

There is fear in opening up and making myself so vulnerable.

Yet, I jump into the Everlasting Arms of springtime breezes.

P1010369I watch little bits of myself flutter away,

the outer useless bits that I thought I needed.

and now richer fruits and deeper roots can grow.

Fear fades and fruit grows

on the old apple tree.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

John 15:1,2P1010375


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just a mom musing on Mother’s Day

mother's dayTruth be told, I never really wanted to have kids. I figured it would happen eventually, but I wasn’t in any real hurry. I only started to feel that maternal itch when my friends started to have babies. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my firstborn that I realized what I really wanted. I wanted to hold that child. Everything in my heart and soul yearned to hold that baby in my arms.  Over the course of those nine months, I changed from a carefree adult to a MOM (yes, in capitals letters). And I loved the change both in my body and in my way of thinking and how I approached the world.

When my daughter was finally born, I couldn’t get over how beautiful she was. We snuggled constantly in those first few months. I fretted over how much she ate and was frantic to decipher each little cry or whimper.

By her first birthday, I was already planning ahead for the next one. Now that I had the hang of this baby thing, I wanted a whole houseful of kids. My husband and I went house shopping and found an older home with four bedrooms and a huge backyard that would be perfect for the large family that we were anticipating. But, sometimes, things don’t work out the way you plan. Sometimes God throws you a curve and you find yourself struggling to keep up. We would lose our second child to Marfan’s Syndrome, a disease marked by a fatal defect of the heart. That tragedy was quickly followed by the birth of our third child, a healthy and handsome boy. We hadn’t had much time to breathe, let alone grieve. Undeterred, we continued to try to expand our little family but it didn’t quite work out that way.

My two beautiful little ones grew and grew. They started pre-school and then made the jump to Kindergarten. Although I would not have any more babies, I managed to raise one dog, four cats, and assorted tropical fish. I was also called in as consultant by my kids to help with their four guinea pigs, gerbils and chameleons. And through it all, I kept the baby clothes, high chair and play swing neatly stored in the attic. I still had dreams. You might think that with all this going on I would have laid aside those dreams, but not so. I still would have loved to have had just one more baby. To fill the gap, I volunteered to help with Children’s Ministry events, Youth Group and Sunday School at church. It was around this time that I noticed a curious thing starting to happen. As much as I doted on my kids, I always had room in my heart to genuinely care for the little ones at church.  I’d plan lessons and games for my Sunday School class and couldn’t wait to share what I was learning in Scripture with other people’s children on Sunday mornings. And then I figured it out. Though I had wanted a whole houseful of kids, I wasn’t going to get that. Instead, I was getting a whole churchful of kids. And I started to realize that my dreams weren’t big enough for the plans that God had for me.

It seems like God’s plans began where my dreams fell short. Now I can see that He has given me the best of both worlds. Two young adults at home, whom I love and adore, plus all the kids at church to love and play with. As I prepare for my youngest one’s high school graduation, I continue to teach Sunday School and volunteer at kid’s events. We laugh and play and learn together about this wonderful God whose plans are always so much better than anything that I could have ever dreamt about.

I wanted a houseful…

He gave me a churchful…

Not a bad deal when you think about it.

Happy Mother’s Day!

church cartoon


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Merciful Justice

justice scalesEven though the news has been quiet lately, the words of “No Justice, No Peace” are still ringing in my ears.   I am proud to live in a country where citizens can fight for justice although I am saddened by the methods that are often used. They will bravely stand up against the darkness of injustice but hurt their cause when they revert to a mob mentality which ends in riots and looting. In listening to news reports and round table discussions, I was very interested to see where different folks draw the line between justice and injustice. I wondered where God draws that line. As complicated as the Bible may seem, it’s incredible how simple and direct it actually is. The biblical definition of justice is to “show mercy and compassion to one another” (Zech. 7:9).

I started to search the Scriptures for references to justice. I was looking specifically for clues to God’s justice and how that relates to mankind. What I found was so simple. God is just (Isaiah 30:18). In the same way that He is love and light, He is just and brings that justice to the nations (Isaiah 42:1,4).

God sets this extraordinary example of merciful justice early on. In the fourth chapter of Genesis we meet Cain and his brother Abel. Cain is jealous of his brother because Abel thought to bring God a better offering than he did. God first warns Cain of the danger that he is in. Ignoring the warning and giving in to his jealousy, Cain murders his brother. Now Cain must face God’s judgement. He is sent from God’s presence and condemned to be a restless wanderer for the rest of his life. As we follow Cain’s story, we see that not only will he live but his descendants will make meaningful contributions to mankind. His great, great, great, great grandsons include Jabal, who starts tradition of the herdsmen, Tubal-Cain, who forged metal tools and Jubal the first musician. That’s quite a legacy for a murderer.

In Cain’s story we see that God’s justice system is merciful and leads to the hope of restoration. Out of that restoration comes righteousness. Therefore, our righteousness is a direct result of God’s merciful justice.

“In God’s kingdom, justice is the measuring line and righteousness is the plumb line.”

Isaiah 28:17

Justice and righteousness are linked together and God will use both to build His kingdom.

“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-ending stream.”

Amos 5:15

In much the same way that water will cover of a rocky river bed, God’s just nature corrects and forgives me as it swirls around the rocky, hardened, innermost places of my heart. The off shoot of that, is a stream of righteousness that covers over me.

Scripture describes true justice as being merciful and compassionate but I think that we all too often confuse justice with seeking revenge. Rather than letting justice, whether a personal sense of justice or a national justice system, lead to peace in volatile situations, we fall into the trap of using our sense of justice to exact payment for crimes without any chance of forgiveness. In today’s world, where so many lines are being blurred, it would be best to remember that Jesus called the peacemakers blessed. My search of God’s view of justice brought an unexpected view of a righteous life into focus. When God calls us to be just, He is calling us to a life that includes mercy, compassion and finding ways to extend peace to those around us.

“…to act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8

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