Monday, April 21, 2014

Hope Has A Name

The rising flaming ball of morning sun, makes me stand still in wonder.

Blushing embers of fuchsia and coral outline the east horizon. Thin invisible air rises and becomes visible as light fog climbs out of the canyon behind our home. It forms columns which resemble tall men marching along with the exhale of warm spring winds. These misty pillars move with time and space as if they are intent upon where they are going.

Breathtaking, beautiful and poetic morning-glory.

Fleeting moments of wonder were captured with my eyes and then gone.

That's how I have felt about these days that I live, too.

Forty days plus a few more, have passed since I wanted to live lent out in my life and cling onto the mystery of Easter. For so many years, it has just been a day to wear a new spring outfit, hide, then hunt, eggs and overeat homemade pie. And while I love those things, the deeper issues of the heart and His heart, are what I have been wanting more of.

Decades ago, before I even understood the idea of Lent, I gave up things like bubble gum or broccoli which I didn't care for in the first place. The idea of self-denial seemed ridiculous. But this year, this right-now of my life, I wanted to be more aware of God and His wonder. More attentive to the gifts He has given me and the Gift that He is, to the whole world.

Now, looking back I have a few things I'm processing.

Pretty much I failed at fasting, praying and repentance.

It is the story of my life really.

Fasting makes me hungry. Praying and repentance requires me to slow down long enough to be introspective and reflective.

But I tried.

I gave up sugar and white flour for a lot of the days of lent. It was good, but it was fine when I didn't, not eat them, as well.

There were some things that I felt needed addressed in the fibers of my soul. Some of them were less than profound to onlookers, but deeper that what I eat.  Some of them were right down difficult. One of them still needs to have feet and faith put to the conviction.

There were plenty of difficult people to love. Most of the hard people attend church.

One thing that Jesus has pressed into my soul is this: Move toward people in love, don't pull away. 

That may not seem huge, but I challenge you to try it. Today. The next difficult person or situation.... -move toward that one thing  -in love.

It usually means you will be taking a back row seat in some way, shape or form.

And that's okay. There is less drama in the back row. There is time to clear your head as you walk from the parking place that is farthest away. There is peace is loving the hard to love and respecting people right where they are.

The homeless person on the corner and the woman who cut you off in her Lamborghini.

We all have the same basic story.

We are all born and someday we will all die.

We all have a God-sized hole in our heart that we try to fill with everything we can grasp.

The difference is how we live and who we live for. Or better said, -Who we live for.

I haven't always got this. Some days I live it better than others.

Last week I traveled with my husband and youngest daughter. As I sat in my oncologist office, talking about the weather, it astounds me how crazy-fast, four years have flown, since I first met her. Four years since surgery where cancer was cut out of flesh.

I was reminded of the blessing of it all, because what really needed an excision, was my heart.

It was a season of lent I didn't initiate. A season of praying, seeking God, looking outside of myself for what was going on around me. A season of moving, breathing and embracing the one day I'd been given.

It was nothing short of life-altering and it is still changing me.

The whole process brought my husband and I closer than we already were. It makes me appreciate every day that I get to breath in sunrises, love my children, laugh with my grandchildren and extend grace to those I come in contact with.

The overreaching theme these last six weeks has been that I need to just move and breathe and live, this one day for the glory of God.

Being faithful to love.

To use my resources, time and talents to serve.

Embracing the wonder of Jesus, who is always moving toward people with His love.

My life of faith is more than forty days. It is more than self-denial, prayer and repentance. It is definitely more than eggs and bunnies and amazing food. It certainly can include these things, but more, I just want to move with time and space,  ...intent upon where I am going.

My life is about living fully alive for the One who died.

It is about peace and hope.

Peace has a name.

Hope has a name.

His name is Jesus.

He left His throne in Heaven to walk the life-path of earth, died a death He didn't deserve, so that those who trust in Him can live real life. Forever.

Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. 

And when the women ran to the tomb early Sunday morning what they found was that He had risen just as He had told them.

Lent is a great reminder, to focus on the real issues of life.

The end of this life will come and that will open a door to eternity.

There is a way that Jesus made for us.

It's not about how good we are, but, how good He is.

That my friends, will determine the rest of our story.

Revelations 4:9 says this:

Then I heard every creature in heaven 
and on earth and under the earth and on the sea,
and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne 
and to the Lamb be praise and honor
and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

Who are you  trusting in?

Linking up today with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Lee.


Monday, April 14, 2014


Dim lighting reveals the unique textures of exposed brick wall, old props and other hints to the past and faded memories of forgotten performances. Musty glimpses of unseen grandeur, seem to be suspended in time from the high-reaching ceiling, in this beautiful, historic theater. A few unmatched chairs line the edge of the open area. Here, behind-the-scenes where only a few see what really goes on, to make a play production happen, and where cast members congregate.

The whole bunch of them gather. The minor players and the major characters. And both of them need the other.

The director stands in the center. He is a good man. A seasoned actor, gifted, yet humble. A ragged circle is formed. Everyone pushes in close and a hush falls over the group, as he begins to speak. There is a recap of yesterday's performance. He highlights what was great, what needs to be modified, and then he opens the discussion to others and their thoughts on what would make today's performance, the best yet.

There was not a hint of condemnation in his voice. He talks about little-big things, like a longer pause to bring closure to a scene or allowing full rests, to allow the audience to respond with laughter. Simple words of encouragement, useful tips and information were offered, that would make the experience better for those who would come to see them perform and to draw the team closer.

They aren't playacting right now.

This moment, represents long hours spent. Accumulated over weeks and now the months that have preceded. It demonstrates how a common goal has united them. What began as a random group of forty children and twenty seven adults, and one dog, has now become an integrated cast of talent for the beloved play, "Annie."

Soon the theater lights would be lowered, the sound of fine-tuned strings and keys will rise from the tiny orchestra pit to set the tone for each scene. Stage lighting will flood the space where the players in the production will become someone else, while bringing who only they can be, to the character.

They draw in the audience by their heart-strings, to engage them in the story of the vibrant, bouncy, perpetually optimistic, orphan girl named Annie who lives in New York City in the 1930s.

And this little nine year old 'Annie," brings the character Annie, alive.

The darling girl with the beautiful voice, brings her energy to the theater that is absorbed by the audience who fill the rows of red velvet covered seats. From backstage, I can hear the audience "ooh" and "aahh," offers of polite applause and bursts of laughter, until the final scenes when the orchestra music cues building anticipation and excitement that the final moments are being played out before them.

Wrong or right, there is one who just steals the show.

Her stage name is "Sandy."

She just comes out, playing her most adorable self. Sweet, obedient, hoping for a small reward.

And she goes and kind of steals the show.

She is actually named Nestle. As in chocolate.

She doesn't really get what it's all about.

She hardly notices the details of the pieces that make up the set, the intricacy of the costumes. The lights and sounds and the people sitting in the orchestra pit with their glasses sitting on the tip of their noses didn't mean a thing to her. Every solo, every chorus, and the crescendo that brings your heart crashing to the climax of the play. She isn't rooting for the heroin and or wanting to boo the antagonist. Her best performances don't impress her any more than her not-so-good performances.

She doesn't long to feel the heat of stage lighting, to hit each mark, or to be the character.

She is just, who only she can be.


An English yellow Labrador retriever.

And she seems pleased to hang out with all those who delivered every line and were able to bask in the glow of a big finish or that moment when they know -- just know -- that the audience was theirs. In fact I think she preferred the little known orphans who hung out and fell asleep through the long parts that they had to wait through.

It wasn't her dream to be center-stage.

But she was there and was one of the stars. Plus she brought a bit of comic relief to the whole show.

Hanging out with the dog-star reminds me that behind-the-scenes, is where much of the center-stage-stuff happens.

The places that are not as glamorous. Where there are few hints to the rich architecture of the building, which was erected in 1929, right before the Great Depression, the time period in which this play is set.

Not a single intricately designed panel or wall mural. Not one column woven with gold ornamental molding to be found.

No marquee with bright, blinking, flashing lights.

But the heartbeat of center stage, comes out of a lot of behind-the scenes moments.

Every piece and part is vital to the whole.

Hanging out backstage was a sweet reminder that when everyone serves with the gifts they have been given, amazing things happen. A group of people gathered here, who understood this and became a part of the bigger plan, which fueled their level of performance as a team. Not for individual glory, but for the greater good of the whole group.

The Directors and performers all seemed to understand this well.... we all need each other.

And Nestle-girl was satisfied with a little praise and a few dog treats.

© Rhonda Quaney