"Car!"

It's an old 'Far Side' comic.
It forever changed the way I see cows.










The Far Side is Copyright of Gary Larsen, All Rights Reserved.

Red Light Spill

This odd little writing (below) is a picture of a real experience that happened to me a few years ago. It came to mind because of a friend of mine who is laying down one important part of her life this week, to start another.
It's hard to lay loved things down. It's hard to start in a new direction -- even if it's a good direction. Sometimes it's because of a job, or a habit, or an addiction, or a relationship, or any other thing that is no longer what's best for us. It doesn't matter what the specific circumstance is ... sometimes the entire course of life-direction simply has to change. In times like that, God has to break my stare and get my attention.
This was one of those days. God used a spilling coffee cup to get my attention. But it wasn't about the coffee. It was about one of those loved things that, by faith, had to be laid down to die so new Life could begin. Honestly, now I'm more willing to follow where He points, because of this red light spill, and where it led me.
So, today, if you are at a crossroads ... if you know in your heart you are being asked to lay something down so new Life can begin ... if you feel that quiet inner nagging to trust and obey what you know God is asking you to do, maybe you need to hear me say this: "Just do it."
~Kleigh

RedLightSpillandABetterRoad

K.Leigh
3.05


I could not make the choice
until God landed me at an intersection.
He told me to stop
and follow a different direction --
not left, right.
180 degrees. Opposite. Repentant.
And in the tension of halting,
it became apparent:
I had been driving on my own chosen road.
I had become a junky of my own making --
A mental prisoner in need of freedom.

As I was literally approaching a main stoplight in town,
He spoke through a woman’s words on the radio,
“Sister, if you know God is asking you to do something,
trust and obey.
Just do it.”

Five times over
With Nike determination
“Just do it.”


"Trust and obey... just do it."
In my heart, in that moment, I knew it meant
“Stop.”

The yellow light in the intersection turned red.
Brakes screeched.
I lurched forward.
The coffee cup in my hand spilled wildly.
The chaos of a burning mess caused me jump, and wake to the danger of my course.
The scalding was confirmation;
The answer to many questions.

What spills out of my cup
when my life’s direction comes to a screeching red-light halt?

The contents of the cup that I hold and carry always with me.
The cup from which I constantly sip.

What is in it?
My daily dose of addictive, caffeinated soul-revving contents.

What is distracting me from my Jesus path?

My daily fix.
The thing that beckons every morning as a friend,
But secretly means my misdirection.
The thing that preoccupies my steering hand and steals my focus.

It is the thing I can no longer carry with me.
I can not drink it in, and expect to be able to drive my own life.
Set it down, dump it out, give it up.
Lay it down again and do not pick it up.


Stop.

My first response after obeying the stoplight edict
Was longing;
Longing to catch-up to the car I was following
and re-engage, re-ignite, reclaim that road.
A nagging lure to go back and regain what was lost,
traveled with me,
Awkward and uncomfortable.

But, over time, on a new path
I discovered a clear and confirmed grace.
In the providence of God’s redirecting voice,
there is preservation, strength, transformation.

Stopped. Spilled on. Scalded.

This is God’s real grace and love for me.
It is God at the Stoplight,
And me, covered with providential spills and stains
A humbled mess
waiting for directions.
Empty-handed,
open-grasp,
finally,
willing to follow
a better road.


"Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure..."

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses

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Lemony Explosion

Today, Lucas and I made Lemon Cookies. And, I was reminded how the math of recipes can be confusing. For the record, doubling and tripling recipes can be particularly risky, especially when lemon juice is involved. We didn't intend to quadruple the amount of juice. It just kind of happened unwittingly, while we were talking. And there were too many ingredients already mixed in by the time the lemon juice incident happened. We couldn't ditch the whole project to start over. There would have been too much waste.
So ... 13 and 1/2 cups of flour later, we just made the biggest dang batch of lemon cookie dough our kitchen could hold!
Since our conventional stove went on strike last week, we are baking them one batch at a time in our micro-convection oven. By my math (which obviously isn't very good) we may be still be baking and freezing these sweet treats until ... um ... mid-September.
'Lemon cookie, anyone?
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A Sunday Thought



One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life;
'Tis the set of the soul
That decides the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Slides


Finney Memorial. April 2009. Norfolk, Virginia.

Family Pictures

I just spent a weekend with the family of my childhood -- my 'family of origin'. At one point, we sifted through a life full of pictures of my Grampa, and in so doing we sifted through pictures of ourselves. Small piles or boxes of assorted pictures were strewn out across a long hotel conference table. We sifted through images that spanned roughly 90 years. They were the times before we even existed and pictures were brown; the times before our children existed and glasses were really big. Times of war and peace mixed together, babies and ancestors side-by-side, past and present, back and forth, the pictures eventually found their way into a timeline of piles, then on to big display boards.
We sat and sifted, sorting memories with our cousins now grown and married. Throughout the weekend, I kept stealing glances; looking at them during meals, at the funeral, around the long picture table full of our pasts. There was something really delightful about seeing the remnants of the 5 small cousins I played with, still etched in their 5 adult faces. And there was something better still, about being with my family.
It has been years since that little family group has been together. Just us. It was good to sit side by side and get caught up, and remember; backward and forward like the piles of pictures. I was reminded that nobody makes me cry like my brother. When we were little, it was for meaner reasons, like the stinging rubber-bands he would shoot at me. But, now I cry because his presence hits a soft spot in my life, in a good way. Our family has had our share of life's harships. Ups and downs, like everyone else. But I am blessed to know them so intimately. They are great people and I'm proud of them, each.
So I love that picture of we six together last weekend (below). And I imagine that newest picture will age like all the rest. Someday it will find it's way into a pile somewhere between when we were really small and when we became grey. And maybe our children will sit around the table the same way some day, with their cousins. And they will remember us, and the legacy of family who came before us, and maybe, my sons will make fun of the frumpy shoes I was wearing. You never know how history will play out. But I do know, the pictures keep it honest.











Dad, Mom, Kim, Nate, Me (youngest)
1969













Kim, Me, Mom, Dad, Nate, Grandmother,
and Lonna (youngest)
1975


My Family
Dad, Mom, Lonna, Me, Kim, Nathan

2009

Charlotte

It's raining in Charlotte, and, "I'm raining on the inside." I'm stuck overnight in a hotel in North Carolina -- stranded after one delayed flight caused me to miss all my connecting flights. And Colorado feels a million miles away.

This was supposed to be a short weekend away from home as I traveled for my Grandpa's memorial in Virginia. It was a weekend of good-byes. The hardest of which, actually, was saying goodbye to my family... my Mom, Dad, sisters, and brother. We haven't been together in what feels like forever. And, it was just deeply good to be with them. So, after saying tearful good-byes, I was really ready to say a happier hello to my sons and Steve. Yeah. That's not going to happen today.

I really don't have anything to complain about, though. Everything has been accomodated, and nothing was lost. My bags are with me. I'm in a great hotel. The airline paid for it -- and my food, to boot. And, it's been one of those oddly blessed days where people have all been in a generally friendly chatty moods, in spite of long lines and interupted plans. Actually, when all was said and done, I was kind of sorry to say good-bye to my Long-Line Friend. We stood together in long airport lines for long waits. And, you know how it is, you just get to know people when you wait in long lines together. He had a very polished 'Hollywood' look. And the odd thing about my Long-Line Friend, the whole time we chatted, I had this nagging sense that he is famous; like, TV or Movie famous. My brain never figured out the name to go with his familiarity. And I never asked him directly. But he is definitely somebody. I expect in the next months I'll be watching a movie or something and be like, "Oh my gosh!!! There's my Long-Line Friend!!" I'll keep you posted on that.

Anyhow, so here I am in Charlotte. And one very nice surprise is the rain. Since I left home last week, Colorado blizzard conditions brought a cancelled day of school and snow that literally buried our little Honda Civic. Apparently, my husband and sons had a blast building huge sled runs down the hill. And right now, on the other side of the country, I'm listening to a different sort of precipitation. It is a constant and muffled pounding of rain drops against the window and on the gutters. It's a long-lost sound. It's been a long time since I've felt the moisture and heard this patter of a storm like this. Oddly, for the last four or five months I've been craving rain. And, I'll write about that at some other time. But for now, I'll just say, after living in such an arid place, this is a welcome, humid, wet & restoring sense. For me, it's a needed filling or drenching somehow -- a drink for something deeper inside.

So I guess you never know what a day will bring. And maybe even cancelled flights and interupted plans can bring surprises... like possibly famous Long-Line Friends, and much-needed rain for the soul. Who knew?

Hoping to be home tomorrow,
Kleigh

10 Quotes




10 Quotes.
10 People.
1 Topic.

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I'm gonna pray now. Anybody want anything? ~Flip Wilson

The less I pray, the harder it gets; The more I pray, the better it goes. ~Martin Luther

When you pray for anyone, you tend to modify your personal attitude toward him. ~Norman V. Peale

Real prayer comes not from gritting our teeth but from falling in love. —Richard Foster

By prayer we couple the powers of heaven to our helplessness, the powers which can capture stongholds and make the impossible possible. ~O. Hallesby

Prayer begins where human capacity ends. - Marian Anderson

I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. ~Abraham Lincoln

Any concern too small to be a prayer is too small to be a burden. - Corrie TenBoom

The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him. ~Wm. McGill

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. ~Soren Kierkegaard

We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible's idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself. ~Oswald Chambers



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Serene Journey


I've been enjoying a blog that I just stumbled across. It's all about Simple Tips to Enjoy Life. The main writer, Sherri, provides practical, organizational, and inspiring ways to find the beauty and joy in living a simple life. You can browse her site by clicking the image above.

Today I'm posting a link to a post on Serene Journey with "10 Tips for Meditation." If you're like me, it's helpful to be find some fresh ideas about how to press pause on a day, stop, and focus.

If you get a minute, go check it out.
10 Tips:

Today's Snapshot

Looking out my window on Forest Hill.

This is Pikes Peak in April. Look at the top. There is a long level area under the cloud. Somewhere on the farthest left of that flat space (before the top starts to curve & slope down again ) is where the Pikes Peak Highway stops, and the Cog Railway stops, and Barr Trail stops. And most importantly, where pretty much everybody stops to catch their breath and grab a donut and hot chocolate at the Summit House. We can see it best from here at night. There is a single light way up there, like a little star pointing to where the donut house sits. I love that little night light. And this snow sure is spectacular. But right now, I'm more concerned about whether or not any flowers are going to come up under all this snow. Good grief.

Today's Free Traveler's Tips:
In case you're traveling this way this summer, and are planning to tackle Pikes Peak ...
It's a big day getting to the top of Pikes Peak if you're driving or riding. It's a bigger day to hike it. A lot of people underestimate how long it is to hike down the mountain. It doesn't look so far when you're up top. So they get dropped off up top, then attempt to hike down. Tourists without any acclamation, often get pooped-out or stranded on their way down, and have to be rescued. So, gather all sorts of information before you go. And no matter which means you choose, take lots of water to drink. You'll be glad you did! I promise.
The Cog Railway
Pikes Peak Highway
Hiking Barr Trail


Lessons from the Vacuum



In the Office.

I decided to tackle the dust in and around my computer. While suctioning the keyboard, my vacuum sucked up the Control button. All that was left behind was a little tiny post and a space where the "Cntrl" key had been. It was grabbed and sucked up before I could even blink, much less figure out what had happened. I had to completely disassemble my vacuum canister and sift through a house-load accumulation of dog hair and grey dust. Eww. No control. I had to pull off the long flexible tube and push a wire hanger through it. No control. Finally I held up the silver tube thingy and looked into it like a telescope. Sure enough. The little black Ctrl button was jammed in the elbow of the tube. After a few smacks, it fell out.
I am sure there is a great metaphor to be spun from the loss and reclamation of "control" while vacuuming. Sadly, I don't have time to figure it out and write it. So, the best I can do is offer a quick, if not silly, moral to the story.

Today's Life Lesson from the Vacuum:
"If you lose control while you're working, sometimes you just have to go back and track down where it got lost. And sometimes, the only hope of reclaiming any control in life, is a willingness to embrace the mess and sift through your own accumulated junk."
~Kleigh



Middle School Choir Update


Yesterday Isaac informed us that he will be playing the drum for one song in choir. It will just be one song. He'll sit out and play, while the girls sing. Since he's still the only boy in the choir, the choir director thought he might feel a little uncomfortable singing "My Boyfriend 's Back," by the Chiffons.

Needless to say, he is very relieved to be playing the drum.

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Gone from Sight

Responses.
My friend Adina sent me this Van Dyke poem in response to the JWF post. She has always loved the picture of the waiting crowd, cheering to welcome someone home. These words describe it so well. I thought you should see it too.
Thanks, Adina.
____________________________________________

KJL,
I just read your post about your grandpa's death on your blog. Something reminded me of this:

GONE FROM MY SIGHT

What is dying?

I am standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: 'There, she is gone!'

'Gone where?'

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says: 'There, she is gone!', there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: 'Here she comes!'

And that is dying.


-Henry VanDyke

The Land of the Living

The following is documentation of a last day. It is an inadequate record of my time in a sacred space. Specifically, this is in honor of the passing of my grandfather, John Finney. And more generally, it is in honor of the loved ones that many of you have watched leave the planet in recent years, weeks, and days. Because eventually, we all say goodbye, in a sense, this is a story we all share.
Thanks for taking the time to read.

~Kleigh

JWF
2.12.09

His 2 daughters doze. His wife sleeps only lightly. The hospital room hums with the gurgle of water, a drone of machines, and his labored breathing. His eyes are closed and mouth open as though in a deep dream. His skin has become papery thin, but his white hair flows the same as always. He gives no sign of interaction – no response except a foot’s twitch or the hard gasping reflex of breathing. Sometimes it looks like he is just sleeping. Resting. Sometimes he gets clammy and it looks otherwise. They think this is his last night.

He is John Woodrow Finney. His 95 year old body is laying in that bed. But when he walked, he walked tall like John Wayne. He swaggered with that same strong, slow, deliberate pigeon-toed gate. Sometimes that swagger took him out to the garage to fix something, out to the boat to catch something, or out to the car to get a gravy biscuit and travel the entire country, one trip at a time. His hats alternated between fishing caps and straw cowboys. And his names changed according to relationship. He was called John or Finney by his friends; Daddy by his daughters; Grampa by his many great and grand children; and ‘Shugee’ only by his wife. As he sleeps, she leans across the bed, checks on his face, and pats his hand.

We did not sleep that night in the uncomfortable chairs, 3 generations of women surrounding one gentle patriarch. He worked to breathe, or perhaps stop breathing. He had decided to stop eating a few days earlier. His lips were dry, but even in his deep sleep, he clenched his mouth shut when offered a chip of ice. He had decided to die. The inevitable was eminent. He refused to live this way any longer. John Finney was in a final labor and we were there, like backwards midwives, present to assist this birth into new life, at the end of his old one.

It is as impossible to know the exact moment of a life’s last exhale, as it is futile to predict the time of an infant’s first cry. Birth and death are God’s possession. The built-in waiting, or shock, induced by both serves as reminder that we are in charge of neither. We are all left at some point to wait for release in-to or out-of this world. And, John was waiting for release.

What was to have been his final night, turned into a new morning. Our stiff necks and backs straightened for coffee. The room’s machines continued to hum and gurgle. My Mom, Aunt Jean, and Granny Pat had been through several weeks of their own unexpected travel, violent flu, and 911 calls, while caring for Grampa. I had only arrived the night before. But they had shared a long and taxing journey, tending John’s last days, together. The morning brought the decision to start taking shifts of rest or duty in the hospital room.

We took turns resting at Aunt Betty’s house, situated on the Black River which runs into Chesapeake Bay. We were tucked back in a rare and pristine rural waterway outside Baltimore, in view of the distant steam-billows of Bethlehem Steel. That week, the late winter wind was unusually strong. Severe gusts off the ocean tossed garbage cans and cut across the troubled grey water. It felt like something big was either blowing-in or blowing-out. Each night, our little huddle of women would gather around the dining table to eat good food, tell long stories, agree about the days events, or disagree about politics. All the while, we would take in the windy view. Granny Pat and Grampa had spent their last couple of years looking out of those huge picture windows. They had box-seats to the changing of seasons on a river that ultimately spilled out into the ocean; a smaller watery flow that connected to something more vast and endless. And I kept feeling like Grampa’s last days were shaped the same; something was about to blow through, and it was a small beginning at the mouth of something much more large, eternal.

It’s hard to remember precisely how the details of days like these unfold. It was my turn to be at the hospital with Mom. Granny Pat and Aunt Jean were back at the river house. I skootched up to the bed and pushed aside the white sheets to sit beside Grampa’s arm, and opened my worn red Bible. It has a slew of post-it-note bookmarks sticking straight out of pages, top, middle and bottom, like a book with a very bad hair day. I began flipping to marked pages, reading favorite or familiar words out loud. It was necessary to lean in, to speak into his one hearing-aided ear. I wondered how loud or soft it all sounded, inside his head, behind his closed eyes. After reading random quotes, a song came to mind. So, I leaned in and sang, rather poorly, and probably the wrong words, but it went something like:

“The LORD is strong and mighty
Jesus mighty to save
The earth is full of his glory
Creation calls, prepare the way.
His love endureth forever
His power is without an end
His strength is victory’s treasure
Let all who call his name,
prepare the way.”


The night before, I had sensed two beings in the room. They were large presences, invisible, only perceived. One was standing behind us, where the curtain was drawn and the purses were piled; the other, was next to the hospital TV which was silently re-playing dangerous animal incidents on ‘Animal Planet.’ Maybe they were angels -- cosmic taxi drivers? Maybe they were waiting for the release with us or preparing the way. Who knows? I don’t know. Really, I have no idea, and won’t argue with you if you say it sounds utterly absurd. It does. In any case, they were not apparent to me the next day when I sang, and my Mom joined me on our shift, on either side of the bed.

Flipping through pages, we both randomly read verses. Mom made suggestions of her own favorites. And as a soothing theme started to appear in the words, something profound started to repeat itself.
The Words...

“I love the LORD because he hears and answers my prayers.
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord: "O Lord, save me!"
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
Psalm 116:1-9


Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast
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Psalm 139

“I am confident of this
I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."
Psalm 27:13
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2


But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,
Hebrews 12:22-23
(all emphasis mine)

He roused. Somewhere in the middle of words about the “city of the Living God”, and the “land of the Living,” John opened his eyes. At first it was hard to tell. His eyes barely opened, just a slit. But, getting in close, looking straight in his face it was apparent. After days of sleepy stupor, he was actually trying to communicate from behind his quiet face. I leaned in close, smiled big, and greeting him face-to-face, “Hi! I see you in there… I do. We see you…” Mom quickly got on her cell phone to summon Granny Pat and Jean back to the hospital. He had something to say. He was ready for the release.

I have a friend who is a doula. She attends and coaches child-births. It is uncanny to listen to her talk about the process of birth, because it is a mirror- image of the process of death. Both require a resignation to what is happening. Both moments are preceded by groans of labor. And both are welcomed with a cry, and a breath – taken-in, or breathed-out. My friend Carol has a lot to say about the many births she has seen, but she doesn’t talk about the specific names of specific women. Because each event is so profoundly vulnerable, intimate, sacred.

After Mom’s urgent cell phone calls came those moments like birth, too intimate to name. But I will say, we repeated the day’s God Words with certainty and joy. In so doing, I felt like I was standing on shore, calling across the water to someone sitting in a distant canoe, “You are going to the Land of the Living! You are leaving the land of the dead to go to the city of the Living God. You are going to the Land of the Living were thousands upon thousands of angels are waiting in joyful assembly… you will see the river full of the water of life, flowing from the Throne of God… you are going to the Land of the Living…"

In answer to the direct question “Are you feeling any pain?” he nodded, “No.” It was his only clear message. He never did speak his thoughts audibly, he only clenched my hand. And he waited. After one final opening of his eyes, Mom said, “Daddy, Pat is coming, Jean is bringing her. Please hang on, Daddy.” And he did. His hand clenched hard then went limp. His eyes closed. His pulse dropped. But he waited for her. When she arrived, she embraced him. He knew she was there. Then with very little struggle, he left. Two nurses legally verified the still pulse. John was freed into eternity, released, at last.

Details happened as planned and we honored him in small ways. We went through his closet and each chose to wear one of his plaid shirts. The rest of his clothing was sorted into boxes, until the shelves and hangers were all empty. Later, we went to Pizza Hut for dinner in his memory. Ironically the 4 of us were seated at a table for 5. Three generations of women, and one empty chair where John Finney would have been seated. He would have smiled, joked, and happily poked fun at his wife, daughters and grand daughter. He would have enjoyed the Super-Supreme Pizza more than we did. And we would have enjoyed being with him. Instead, we enjoyed the relief of remembering the man who no longer knows pain.

Back at the house on the water, we all unloaded our coats and purses and started to get situated for travel back home. Shuffling across the wood floors, we all paused. Outside, the wind had stopped. The sun was glowing in deep reds and oranges, setting on a calm glassy river. Granny Pat called our attention to the view. “Well girls, it looks like we are going to have ourselves a gorgeous sunset.” And she was right. We all stood in the white room and looked out at the river that flows into the ocean. We stood, bathed in orange glow – orange walls, faces, skin, and clothes. We were bathed in a day that was about the end. We paused no more than 30 seconds to a minute. But I lingered longer as the women dissipated to their attending – dishes, phone calls, and plane tickets. The details of daily life swallowed up our sun-washing, and the day closed.

Nothing more to be carried away by the stilled wind, no more troubled water, all that remained was the faithful flow of something eternal, and a new day ahead.

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Come to the River

Come to the river
Play in the water
And drink of forever
And be free.

How beautiful the water’s blue
As you let them wash over you
Won’t you come and stay a while?

Come to the river
Play in the water
And drink of forever
And be free.

Say goodbye to everything that silenced the songs you loved to sing.
In the river, come to the River
Come to the River, t
he River of Peace.

~Ronnie Freeman

“I am confident of this
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD
Be strong,
take heart
and wait for the LORD.”

Psalm 27


k.leigh All Rights reserved.

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Clean Heart

Thoughts for a Sunday

The Holy of Holies
by Paul David Trip


"Behold, you desire the truth in my inmost being."
Psalm 51:6

In the holy of holies
Where my deepest thought dwells
In the secret place,
Of the heart,
Where no one sees,
And no one knows.
In that place of worship,
Sets the course,
For all I say,
And all I do.

In the holy of holies,
Where thoughts,
Afraid to be verbal,
And desires,
Never quite spoken,
Determine,
What I will seek,
And say,
And do.

In the holy of holies,
Where greed lurks dark,
And anger stands dangerous,
In the shadows,
Where lust captivates,
And envy enslaves,
In that sacred place,
Of the heart,
Where I plan to do what I will do.
And rehearse what I will say.

Where love is born
or succumbs to hate,
Where gentleness
Falls to vengance.
In that place where
thinking never ends,
And interpretations,
Become a way of seeing.
Where feelings grow in power,
And overwhelm
what is sensible,
Good,
and true.

In the holy of holies
where I stand naked,
All covering gone,
Before you,
What I am,
As I am,
Void of defense,
Stripped of excuse.
Nowhere to hide,
No reputation to polish.
In the place where You,
Can see,
And hear,
And know.

May you do there
What I cannot do.
May you create there,
What only mercy can give.
May you hold back,
What I deserve,
And give what,
I could never earn.

May you create in me,
a clean heart.



"Create in my a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10


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From the book,
"whiter than snow -- meditations on sin and mercy"
by Paul David Trip
Crossway Pub., 2008

Fields of Gold

"Will you stay with me, will you be my love
Among the fields of barley?
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in the fields of gold

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth
Among the fields of gold

I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in the fields of gold
We'll walk in the fields of gold

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in the fields of gold

When we walked in the fields of gold
When we walked in the fields of gold"


~Sting








This version of Sting's lyric is sung by Eva Cassidy. Her voice, to me, was perfect. Her career was far too brief. She died, at 33 years old, after a battle with cancer which ended back in 1996. If I could choose to trade-out my voice for any other, I'd pick Bonnie Rait ... or Eva.

This sweet live recording of the song, is Eva at Blues Alley. The video is just clips of her at that venue, but it doesn't sync to the song. Don't try to fix your screen ... just turn it up a bit, and listen.


And, for the record, today this song is dedicated to SteveL.
From,
Me.
"But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in the fields of gold,
We'll walk in the fields of gold."

The Only Boy in the Choir

What do YOU remember about Middle School? Chances are good, it's something embarrassing. Last night was definitely an unforgettable middle school moment for our family. The All District Music concert featured various instrumental and choral groups from the Elementary, Middle and High Schools here in Woodland Park. The 3 different grade school choirs all did peppy swing kinds of numbers with over exaggerated little choreography moves that made us all smile. The High School Madrigal Singers were tight and professional. Ty looked very handsome in his tuxedo, I must say. And, there was only one Middle school choir. Everyone in the Middle School Choir wore white shirts and black pants. Everyone in the Middle School Choir sang two songs. And everyone in the Middle School Choir was a girl ... except Isaac.

It wasn't supposed to be that way. He didn't know. When he signed up for Choir, Isaac had no idea that NO OTHER boy in Middle School signed up. It wasn't supposed to be all girls. This was a surprise to Isaac -- and later, to the rest of us; and last night, to everybody else in the auditorium as the choir took the stage. Even the emcee was a bit taken aback by the mass of girls. When the choir was situated, Isaac was standing directly in the middle of the top row, and very hard to miss. Andrew and I sat next to each other and agreed that this may have been a tragic or embarrassing situation for any other kid ... any other kid, besides Isaac.
This year, Middle School Choir has provided much hilarious dinner-time fodder at our house. For instance, for some reason, last semester the class had to watch "A Never Ending Story" during choir, instead of rehearsing -- for two days straight. "A Never Ending Story" is just exactly that -- neverending. And it is on the Most-Hated-of-all-Movies list for the Leigh brothers. I have no idea why a movie needed to be watched in choir during CSAP (standardized testing) week. I'm not sure why the kids needed a break from the mental strain of singing during that week. I have no answer. Nevertheless, each night, Isaac would repeat neverending sections of the movie, verbatim (and my face ached from laughing). Then he would sing the movie's theme song and Tyler or Lucas would seriously protest something like, "NO!!! Don't sing it!! I can't get it out of my head!!" Isaac would also (more seriously) sometimes sing sections of real choir songs, like "Upon these Hallowed Halls" and "Amazing Grace." But, none of his solo-choir concerts prepared for the performance last night.
I'm kicking myself for not bringing the video cam. So you'll just have to imagine. A small sea of white shirts and black pants took to the risers and I could feel my own small case of the giggles threatening to erupt. Now, remember, Isaac isn't helpless in situations like this. He is a friend of the spotlight. Any other of my sons would have be promptly saved from this situation with a note from their Mom to the guidance counselor, and a schedule change. But Isaac had already explained that the situation wasn't too awful because, "Half of the girls really like me and the other half don't hate me." So, Andrew and I just looked at each other and smiled as the Only Boy in the Choir took his place. I was actually very proud and a little amazed. No way would I have ever been able to do what he was doing ... definitely not at 13.

I was feeling all proud and only a little amused until something turned. I don't know exactly what. Maybe it was all the high voices, maybe it was the distracting girl on the end who kept looking around, then sneezing ... or maybe it was the song. "What a Wonderful World." When Louis Armstrong sings it with his big smile and raspy drawl, that song is sentimental in a very masculine way. But when a small herd of tweens sing about seeing "trees of green, red roses too" and they "see em bloom, for me and for you" with their high young voices ... well ... it's not the same as Satchmo. And it's not the same for Isaac, stuck in the middle of the gender herd. And it started to get funny. By the last round of "And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world" I was trying to hold my breath. It felt helpless -- like being in a very quiet church, sitting next to your oldest sister who just reached down, touched her shoe, and came up with dog poop on her fingers -- during prayer, with no way to get rid of it. (Even though it sounds like I'm describing my sister, Kim Leonard, I just meant it to be a hypothetical example).
There in the middle of the song, I was overcome with the kind of laughter that is more like a tyrannical case of the hic-cups than a quick giggle. And it was very hard to control. I made the mistake of looking at Steve, and Andrew. Both were fighting to keep their own composure. And I nearly lost all hope of keeping myself silent. Mercifully, the song ended without any audible mis-haps from our row. And Isaac filed off-stage with the crowd, unfazed by it all. It was a memorable night. And thankfully, one of those rare Middle School memories that will not be embarrassing. Only because it's Isaac.

I love that kid so much.

So, since I don't have singing footage of the Only Boy in the Choir, I thought you should experience at least some small taste of another original one-of-a-kind ..."What a Wonderful World," by Louis Armstrong.
And, there aren't any girls singing on this one.

April Snowmen

In honor of snow on April Fool's Day,
Calvin's Snowmen.
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"Calvin and Hobbes" is copyrighted by Bill Watterson.
All Rights Reserved.