The Same Thing

steamingpool

In the early morning, in the waning days of summer, the autumn air blasts in and causes steam to rise off the surface of the pool.

I say, “steam.” He says, “water vapor.”

I say, “Magic! Wonder!” He says, “Science!”

We mean the same thing.

Heard at Hutchmoot: Shiny Things

Heard at Hutchmoot: A Series on Words From Our Weekend in Nashville

The keynote speaker at Hutchmoot was an author by the name of Leif Enger.  His most notable works are the bestseller Peace Like a River and So Brave, Young, and Handsome.

Leif gave us some encouragement to see from his life on a Minnesota farm.  He and his wife like to take walks at sunset when the weather is warm.  Leif usually carries some change in his pocket, and there’s a certain rock where he will leave a coin or two.

Why?  Because the crows like shiny things.  When the couple passes by that rock later on, the coins are always gone.  Leif said it gives the birds happiness to have shiny things in their nest, and it gives him joy to think of those coins making their way into trees around the property.

Gifts

He said, “Look for the shiny things. Store them away.”

What’s a shiny thing for you?

A shiny thing this time of year is my husband’s faithfulness to turn on the Christmas tree lights early in the morning. The kids’ eagerness to shop for their siblings. The Behold the Lamb of God concert.

A shiny thing anytime of year is the light filtering through the trees a certain way. The smell of homemade soup. Times with friends when you laugh until you cry. Words from a familiar Psalm.

When I was eager to look at those crows as hoarders, Leif Enger turned that image on its head and said I should be a hoarder of shiny things.  Shiny things make us grateful to the Giver of all good gifts.

 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:16-18

P.S. Those books mentioned above? Check them out. That man that my husband now calls his “friend” is a wonderful storyteller.

Why It Matters

This is a devotional I recently wrote for our homeschool co-op.

Sara Groves wrote the above song in tribute to a man in Sarajevo whose name is Vedran Smailovic.  Vedran was the principal cellist for the Sarajevo Opera Orchestra.

In Sarajevo in the 1990s there was a great war and many people died.  Some of those people were civilians — people who were standing in a breadline, hoping to take some food home for their families.  Twenty two of them were killed by a mortar shell.  They were not soldiers or politicians or involved in the conflict at all — other than the fact that they lived there.

That was on May 27, 1992.  On May 28, Vedran Smailovic went to the blackened part of the city where this tragedy happened, took out his cello, and began to play.  He played in that park for twenty-two days, in tribute to the twenty-two men, women, and children who died there.  It was his way of answering the tragedy.  He mourned with music.  He brought lavish beauty to a place that was war-torn, chaotic, and tragic.

The story of Vedran expresses some of God’s character.  God created the world out of chaos.  He spoke it into being and it was very good.  If you look at creation, what He has made, it is amazing and beautiful.  It works perfectly.  And there are so many details that are there that didn’t need to be.

Think about this season of fall.  God could have intended that autumn happened in a week or so.  The trees would close up shop, lose their leaves in a pile of brown, and be done with it.  But no — in His generosity to us, He intended for the season to be colorful:  full of reds, yellows, oranges, and the bluest skies you can ask for.  He didn’t have to do it that way, but the fact that He did means that beauty matters to God.

For thus says the Lord,

who created the heavens

(he is God!),

who formed the earth and made it

(he established it;

he did not create it empty,

he formed it to be inhabited!):

“I am the Lord, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:18, ESV)

And so I want to encourage you students today that when you take an extra moment on your homework to get it right; when you stop to jump in the leaves that are turning; when you color a picture for your mom; when you draw what you see; when you sing with all your heart in church — YOU are creating and YOU are reflecting God’s glory when you do that.

And moms, when you light a candle at dinner even though the rest of the house is chaos; when you take an extra minute to love that child who is giving you a terrible attitude; when you bring beauty in what seems to be a darkened place, YOU are reflecting God’s glory.

These efforts can seem to go unnoticed for years at a time, maybe for our whole lives.  Like the single cellist in the blackened park, we might feel as though our efforts are fruitless.  They cannot raise the dead.

But we serve an audience of One, who made us like Him, in His image.  Be encouraged.  He sees.  He knows.