Sunday, March 24, 2013

Live Today....

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When you get the news that you have cancer and they tell you there is no time to waste... it's time to start living like there is no tomorrow.

That's how it was for me.

My one wild heart skipped a few beats at the news. 

But sometimes the words that take your breath away, actually breath life into your very soul.

It was three years ago the words from the doctors lips tore flesh holes in my heart.
When the word rolled out that most people fear so deeply they only call it... "the "C" word."

My friend was currently walking through a valley of the shadow of death.
So mostly I already knew that cancer kills slow,  with a thousand little deaths before the final blows. 

The cold rain like liquid shards of ice, laced together with my salty tears tumbled onto the pavement.

If this was a pop quiz I was sure I'd fail. I knew all too well how fragile life is.

How vapor-like breath in lungs can be.

My two younger brothers already lay in the cold dirt, in the very plots my parents had purchased for their own final resting place.  

Before that I had buried good friends, big dreams, my first love and this time.......
Well this time it could be me. 

God's grace drips like rain even through tears of pain.

As I sobbed in the darkened corner of my office, --that inconsolable-ugly-cry, filling a trash can with soppy tissues, I settled the issue with the Lord that I serve. 

These words I spoke out loud through heaving dehydrated sobs
   "...whatever You have for me Lord...."

"I release my life to You." 

The crazy thing is... I was no longer afraid.

The hardest part was settled and I set out to do what needed done.

On my wall hangs an old picture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The portrait of pain hangs in the basement hallway were few people go. The artist tried to capture a single frame still shot of a turning point moment in Jesus time on earth.

Dr. Luke records in chapter 22:44  "....his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."

Jesus knew he was about to be betrayed with a kiss by one of his closest companions. Some of his friends were sleeping near Him when they need to be awake and praying.  Jesus knew the torture and unfair treatment that lay ahead.

No doubt the tone and intensity of Jesus' ministry was running high this whole last week of his life on earth. 

Just a few days before this, the Bible says he borrowed a donkey and rode into the city with people cheering Him on and laying their coats and palm branches on the path before Him.  He had cursed the fig tree that looked alive, but bore no fruit, quoted scripture to the religious people who kept people in bondage, made blind people see and lame people walk. He threw the money changers out of the temple {again} and reminded them {again} that His Fathers House was to be a house of prayer not a place for personal gain.

Jesus had been careening like a flaming meteorite to this climax of emotions and events. This picture tries to capture the private battle that is waged before his blood is spilled.

Indeed from the time that his mother asked him to turn water into wine and he reminded her  "his hour had not yet come"  - and just  a few days before when the woman "......who lived a sinful life..." broke open her alabaster jar and pour the expensive perfume over his head and washed his feet with her tears..." the suspense was building.

But I wonder ...if when Jesus rose to his feet from this moment, he was no longer so afraid, but had set his face and his heart toward the final steps to the cross.

He had chosen.

This is the part I've had a hard time grasping all these years: 

Jesus wasn't killed because bad people did bad things to Him. {Though they did.}

He wasn't just an innocent victim of circumstances. {Though He was.}

Jesus was born for this moment.

He knew the price and still He freely chose to walk to the cross.

He chose to die a horrible death on a cross.

Men lied about Him and spit on Him, they broke their own laws to try Him in a makeshift court of law, they nailed him to a cross, they slashed his side with a sword to be sure he was dead, sealed him in a tomb, and set guards over his body.

They thought they won the battle.

Jesus knew they might win this battle, but that He had won the war.

He had won the war on sin.

This unstoppable, unquenchable resolve that took Jesus down the dusty bloody path to redeem people. Even the very people that killed him. 

He didn't have to do this.

He wanted to do this.

That is why I am a Christ-lover.

But for too long I thought I served an angry God who was waiting to snuff me out.

I believed that to serve Him, was about being a rule keeper. Which is laughable  --but I tried. 

What a wonder-struck moment it was when I understood that I serve a Servant-King-God that loves so freely.

That loves without reserve or limit.

And He put this love on display by chasing after each of us, all the way to the cross. 

The Lord used my cancer wake up call to fix my gaze on Him and stop living in complacency.

The cancer test came before the live-life-today testimony.

My friends, Easter is not about rabbits or egg-hunts. 
Its not about filling baskets or wearing bonnets.

It is a free-grace-gift that was purchased at a high stakes price by a wholly-holy God.  

He did the hard part.
We get the easy part.

The only thing left to do is accept His gift. 
It is free to all who just want to settle the issue of where you stand with Jesus.

What if we all lived today, as if there is no tomorrow? 

He Is Risen Printable

Thank you for hearing my heart friends.

May you see the heart of the Father and His love for you.

Linking Up Today....

Counting 1000 Gifts

# 896 Old slippers that form to my feet
# 897 Fresh oranges that feel good on my sore throat
#898  Nebraska water
#899  Two baptisms yesterday. Both teenagers. Love.
#900  Sheets from the dryer.
#901  Bed early

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Living Out Lent

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Last week someone asked me what plans I had for Easter.

The blank look on my face should have signaled that I had no idea when Easter even was and therefore "plans" didn't exist. 

As she pressed on talking about how many weeks into Lent it was already, there was a pause as she waited for me to reply. 

Really I was trying to be engaged in the conversation, but I must be the biggest hypocrite I know.

After all. What is Lent? 

Simply put, it is the season of preparing for Easter.

Isn't Easter the celebration of Jesus walking right out of the tomb after being hung on a cross?

And don't I love Jesus?

There was a time that I used to smear ashes on my forehead and give up ice cream for 40 days. 

Yes. Long ago I learned that Lent is 40 days without counting Sundays. 

It was a time of not eating meat on Fridays and me making empty promises to give a little bit of nothing on the other days.

That is all Lent EVER was to me.

 My empty, lame, promises. 

Goodness knows that my mom knew how to get ready for Easter.

Every year she would spring clean the whole house.

Even the old musty basement was deep cleaned, though I don't know why. 

It wasn't a place any of us would ever go.

She would even manage to clean the four of us up, by purchasing each one a new outfit. Sometimes my sister and I wore floppy bonnets to go with dresses and even little white gloves.

My brothers were taken to the local barber who would take a razor to their heads and then crisp white shirts were snapped  tight to their neck with little clip-on bow-ties. 

Mom planned a huge meal and fixed large Easter baskets that were hidden behind chairs on Easter morning. She bought candy to hide for an egg hunt. The wild egg hunt that would involve as many of  the 36 cousins that could make it to the farm with their parents. 

The food overflowed from the main table to the counters and extra tables that were set up. The long dessert table was the main attraction. And of all those delights, my Grandma's nearly famous white rabbit cake topped with seven minute frosting, sprinkled with coconut, then decorated with jelly beans. I don't know that we loved the taste of the cake as much as the fact that she brought it.

Mostly we would all be together. 

Soon it will have been two years since mom passed away and two years that our family structure including holidays has changed dramatically. I've spent the last month and a half sitting in doctors offices with my dad. And now several rounds in the hospital. This last week I've been riding the hospital elevators and sitting in hospital rooms, watching people with blank lifeless stares.

People who are hurting, without hope and who desperately need healing.

People who would like things to be different than they are.

People who might like to see me live like Lent means something real.

It's time for me to make some changes.

How can I spend weeks and weeks decorating for Christmas. Planning, buying things and going. Going. Going! All to celebrate the Christ child being born. Then neglect the other half of the story of how Jesus willingly walked to the cross?    

The Easter story. 

The story of His amazing grace.

The pain.

The unfair death.

The triumph.

The joy.

The beauty of His transforming love.

This season is about that story and that love.

It is the reminder of what Jesus has done for us.

Photo Credit

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The English word 'lent' means spring or lengthening of days. It has become known as forty days of fasting in preparation for Easter celebration.

People who acknowledge a season of Lent, have the right idea! They desire to remember and prepare for the Reason of this season. My mom had the right idea. Spring cleaning and preparing for the celebration with family and friends!

But what if Lent is more than both of those things. What if it's more like spring cleaning the closet of my mind and not just my house. Instead of giving up some small thing for a few days I live sacrificial giving and sanctified thanks-kind-of-living.  

Perhaps these few weeks left before Easter you would join me to reflect on the price of His free gift and to prepare for the celebration?

A celebration that is a way of life and a heart journey.

And this is why.

Jesus left behind an empty tomb because He doesn't make empty promises. 

Print and frame one?


Just for fun?

Lamb Cookie Tutorial 

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Monday, March 11, 2013

{|The Wild Goose|}

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Over the clanging of dishes and splashing water I hear the faint cry. The walls of our home can't muffle their call. The song they sing is like staccato notes of joy. So I pull open the window and press in to listen.

Yes. I hear it again. 

I have to run out on the porch to look for them. They are honking out their rhythmic song. The first chorus and the echoing answer. Encouraging each other as they lift higher and get louder. Just before dropping in altitude to adjust their course over the landscape of the canyons behind my home.

They are a sign of promise to the changing seasons. Goodness knows I'm ready to put the snow shovels away, hide the ice melt and watch tulips push their beautiful faces up through the stony soil.

I keep watching and listening. There are two geese pumping their wings in tandem like children pump their legs in a swing to see who can rise higher. Their majestic wing span appear to overlap and yet they never miss a beat or ruffle a feather. And white-breasted bellies look too full to fly. Long black necks and white chin strap accentuates their faces stretched out in flight.

They fly with intent.

Looking forward.

Pressing In. 

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I love geese.

Even as a child my home was in the path of their ancient invisible flyways. 

It makes me wonder-struck how their long flights, take them beyond my horizon, in season and out of season. How they the sense to choose a mate for life, communicate as they fly, most often swim in formation and fly in formation. 

Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of him, resulting in a reduction of wind resistance. The birds take turns being in the front, falling back when they get tired. In this way, the geese can fly for a long time before they must stop for rest. 

Flying in a V formation also makes it easy to keep track of every bird in the group. Flying in formation may assist with the communication and coordination within the group. It is so effective that fighter pilots often use this formation for the same reason.

Mostly geese are loyal.

Research shows that if a goose is shot down, two geese will turn back to be with the injured one. And then they will stay until that bird dies or is able to resume their journey. 

Can I just go ahead and make a silly observation?

Some days I wonder if people have as much sense as a goose. 

What I've lived is people shooting at each other.
Folks not even knowing who the real enemy is.

This clipping the wings of others over words that aren't matched with the reality of true love, prayer, and deeds that come with real faith and the moving of the Spirit.

Jesus-people pecking and plucking.

Mind-molting and pond-hopping.

After years of seeing it, as well as being it, it all made me wild for some change.

The ancient Celtic Christians were said to have named the Holy Spirit, "The Wild Goose." 


It does speak to the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit.

Often overlooked.




So often we make Christianity out to be something that can be domesticated and caged.

Oh I want to hear more from the Wild Goose kind of Holy Spirit!

Not like searching for a holy grail. But to hear the leading of a Holy God.
Not a wild goose chase without purpose or that ends in futility. More like the call of the Lead goose and to hear define the path to take.

Loving Jesus is suppose to be the Good News. We of all people should not only be passionate, but   ....dare I say it?

A little wild. 

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range, than if each bird flew on its own.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

We need to use our giftings to reduce the pull and drag on those around us. 

We need some divine 360 degree vertical and horizontal monocular vision.

While we're heading into the wind.
Moving toward the light.

Why, we could split the sky if we pulled together instead of tear each other apart!

In one chorus, calling out words of encouragement. Living loyalty and love. Running to look and listen where the Spirit is leading. Following relentlessly the invisible Ancient One who will show us the way on this great adventure.

This free response of the will, to a free call of the spirit, to go to parts unknown.

I'm staring into the setting sun. Searching for the specks on the horizon. Watching them flap their powerful feathered limbs. Each stroke keeping time with the other. Acting as one powerful united arm. Listening to their incessant call to each other. Encouraging each other on the long journey. 

The image is compelling.

It's a beautiful thing.

And who doesn't want 70% more return on their time and energy?

As God so often does. He gives us a return that is more than the sum of our parts.

When we live like this example, it isn't just one plus one equals two.

It's: 1 + 1 = far more than two. 

Photo Credit

Praying for us to hear the call of God.

He is wild about you friend.

Resources: #1 , #2, 

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Monday, March 4, 2013

{Soup For Your Soul}

Dark spills through the door, chased by sharp air, laced with prickly frost crystals as I let the dogs outside for their morning routine.

It is 5:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning. I'm already too aware  I should have been up before now to get done what the day demands.

My un-caffeinated mind slogs through the motions of gathering a few simple ingredients.

Large yellow egg yolks  plop into the glass bowl with a splash. It makes the milk pool around the outer edge. 

As I'm whipping eggs and milk my soul is churning over my friend.

Well, I consider her my friend.

She really doesn't know me.

But she trusts me with the keys to her home and to care for all that she loves.

At best she thinks I'm a nice person. 

Or worse she thinks I'm religious. 

And she isn't interested in the religion some have tried to shove down her throat.

Folks who quote large blocks of scripture. Words strung tight together that sound like a foreign language which need to be decoded for her ears. People who thump their finger at her, plus a list of do-not-do's.

Ya, she doesn't want to hear it.

She is not feeling well.

I don't know what to do, so I do what I know. 

I cook.

As I push my fists into the dough, thoughts press on my mind of how silly this is.

 -To make soup to comfort someone's pain. 

And this offering thin broth. Broth made by boiling bones from a carcass. That this will somehow help a persons frame heal?

Soup can be a soul-salve?

It just doesn't make sense really.

For the years that I spent wandering and wondering.

Would soup have made a difference?

As I cut ribbons of noodles I'm carving out words in my head to say to her. 

What I want to do is lean close and whisper to her, you are amazing. You are important. I'd tell her that I like her just the way she is and that I care about her pain. 

I'd tell her that I believe, Who I have believed in, enough to live it instead of preach it.

That I understand how true friendship is risky and that grasping the truths of an unseen God isn't easy.

The soup is a rolling boil and the rich aroma drifts down the stairs to my office where I sit and tap out a few lines that feel flat.

But these simple ingredients are my offering.

Combined with love and prayer. 

Extended with hope and acceptance.

Hand crafted noodles in soup is good.

Loving on people is better.

Jesus giving up His life on the cross for every soul...

  that is the best gift I know of. 

Does chicken noodle soup really matter?

I don't know.

But this I believe.

Loving matters.

Because every soul has some heart-hunger.
And every heart needs some soul-healing.

Try your hand at homemade noodles?

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© Rhonda Quaney