Our Colorado girls are due in next week. They had their choice of when to come, as long as it didn't interfere with church camp and other family celebrations, and they chose the first full week of their summer vacation. We can't wait.
We spent the three-day holiday weekend feathering our nest, clean linens and shiny floors all ready to get mussed up, fussed up and used up in the coming days.
Haili and Maddy, now nearly 12 and all of nine, respectively, shine more brightly than the sun and I don't want any household chores to cloud the time that they're here.
I'm fairly well-traveled, thanks to the many adventures Danny and I shared in the early years of our marriage, but bona fide vacations were rare. We were more apt to pack the car and drive all night for a weekend getaway to Worland, Wyoming than to scrimp and save to go Tahiti or other far-flung locales, and we only flew on one of those vacations, so frequent flyer miles have zero appeal. Those vacations pale in comparison to these summers with our Colorado girls. I must confess, I do tend to spoil them terribly. And since their vacation coincides with the Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival this year, they're really in for a treat. There'll be plenty to do right here in McCook.
I just finished the book "Paper Angels" by Billy Coffey that really touched my heart. I read this one strictly for pleasure and it was a pleasure, page after page. I hadn't encountered this author before, but I'll certainly be watching for more of his work. He weaves a marvelous tale.
The main character, Andy, is recovering from injuries sustained in a fire and is visited by a bona fide angel, he believes her to be his second. His first angel has been his near-constant companion since he was 10, when his parents were killed in a car crash. Early on the "Old Man," had directed Andy to a wooden box in his grandparents' attic and told him to keep it handy because he was going to need it. Over time, the box became home to an unusual collection of items from Andy's life. Elizabeth, the second angel, compels Andy to tell the stories held by each item. In the process, Andy discovers that moments in time, as we live them, reveal only a fraction of the magnitude of that particular moment in time. We can only see the pattern of our lives in looking back.
While I was cleaning, I took down a wooden plaque that has hung in the same spot in our kitchen since we moved in in 2003. Before that, it hung in our apartment kitchen, the kitchen on Washington Street, and the kitchen on Birch Avenue in Brighton, Colorado. It first hung in the living room of our mobile home.
The poem on it is an original, by Danny's sister Rosie. She wrote it for me many, many years ago, and it has always had a place of honor in our home because she has a place of honor in our hearts. While I had it down I applied Bea's miracle wall cleanser (1 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup baking soda in a gallon of hot water), to the decoupage finish and restored it to its original luster. While I cleaned it, I read and re-read the poem:
"The Lord's Way"
"The Lord's way is the only way
at least that I can see
to find the love and comfort
that we as humans need.
He worked so hard and gave so much
to help us see the light,
and always lends a helping hand
to make things turn our right.
So, if by chance you go astray
and cannot rise above,
remember everlasting strength
when we accept God's love."
I gave my whole heart to Jesus when I was not quite 13, during a revival meeting at the coliseum in Denver, Colorado. My mom, afraid I had fallen in with some cult or faced some other danger, dampened my initial enthusiasm and for many years, had I been accused of being a Christian, there wouldn't have been a jury anywhere that would have convicted me. In fact, it probably wouldn't have even made it to trial.
Things changed only marginally following my baptism in 1981, but Rosie must have seen something no one else did, because it wasn't too long afterward that she penned the poem. And although it has hung on our walls for years, rather than being tucked away in a box, the poem has become part of the pattern of my life. In fact, as I read and re-read it Monday, in light of the trials and tribulations that all men know or will come to know, I saw a portion of the garment of my life being carefully woven. Rosie couldn't have known when she wrote the poem that it would define the major pattern of my life. Each step forward, usually measured by two steps back, is woven into the pattern. In the midst of the dark threads of grief, disappointment and fear, in the midst of brighter hues, threads of joys realized, a golden strand appears, tying everything together, revealing the One who has always gone before me, the One who has always carried me through.
The chapters of my life tell the stories that matter. And the only stories that matter are the stories of those who have come alongside, seen or unseen, as I've walked the path unfolding before me.
I do not pretend to know the pattern chosen by Father God for our Colorado girls. I suspect there will be tears. I suspect hearts will be broken, dreams will be dashed and innocence will one day be lost. What I do know, and hold fast to today, is that he has seen fit to weave parts of us into the garments of their lives and as Andy discovered in Paper Angels, they'll have all they need and will need all they have.
"I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." Isaiah 46:10 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him together.