Dirt Digger

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God create mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

 

In my kitchen, I have a sign that says, “Sometimes when I open my mouth my mother comes out.” It probably wouldn’t be so funny if it weren’t so true. The older I get, the more I find I sound like her. The older she gets the more she looks like her own mother.

“Mama guess what happened today while we were at Grandmother’s!”

My brain began to imagine all manner of scenarios and possibilities, an infinite number swirled through my head. Last time I had heard that statement they’d found a rodent skull and brought it to me for my approval. Like Carter and Carnarvon uncovering King Tut’s tomb, their exciting archaeological find was destined to change the world. At least that’s how they’d acted. So, when asked, all I could honestly say was, “I have no earthly idea. What?” Maggie, unable to contain her excitement and wait until I’d finished taking dinner from the oven spilled out a sentence that forced me to give a puzzled glance toward Mama. As I slipped off my oven mitts and carried on with the tasks of dinner prep, I learned that apparently not only did Mama’s small-town Alabama have a garden club, and in a somewhat stalkerish-like manner they combed the streets looking for yards to win their beautification award, but also, I was standing in the presence of their latest winner.

granny-1280445_1280“It’s really informal,” Mama said.

I giggled and Maggie proceeded to give, in detail, an account of how they’d been going about the day when the doorbell rang, and Mama had been presented with the award. I’m still a bit foggy on some parts of the ordeal, but it is perfectly clear to me why she won.

She loves the dirt. She likes to be outside. On any given occasion she can be found, sans shoes, clothed in overalls meandering about her yard with any number of garden implements. Her summer zinnias are breathtakingly beautiful. She will be the first to say being in the outside air is healing. I used to not believe or understand such a phenomenon until she proved me wrong.

Once I had the bad pneumonia. The can’t-shake-it-despite-big-meds-and-a-week-in-bed pneumonia. My kids were little and if it weren’t for an army of help I’m not sure they’d’ve survived my infirmity. I was ordered home to convalesce. It was January and it was cold out. Every day I talked to Mama and every day she’d said for me to go outside and get some fresh air. Every day I said ok and when we’d hang up I would roll over and go back to sleep. That was until she grew tired of my apathy and said: “Give the phone to Scott.” As I rolled over I heard him say, “Yes ma’am” and “ok bye” followed by dragging sounds indicative of moving stuff, opening and closing doors, dings of a microwave, and before I could say a word of protest he was dragging my pajama-clad self out to the front yard. He wrapped me in a quilt, shoved some warm hot toddy beverage in my hands and balcony-life-person-103127explained that I was to stay there “Cause your Mom said so.” By the end of the day, I’d taken a turn. I was finally on the road to recovery and the end of sickness could be seen. All because by proxy of my Husband I had obeyed her.

Now when I am sick, she doesn’t even have to ask, she knows I make my way to the outside to absorb and take in the healing of the sunshine and air. She’s often right, in fact, I’ve not really ever known her to be wrong that much. She’d beg to differ though because that’s just how she is. She is humble and kind, caring and loves unconditionally. She is easy to talk to and has an amazing sense of humor. She is artistic and talented, but again she’d beg to differ because she’s just like that. I have never known another quite like her and I hope and pray that there will come a time I am given the compliment that I act like my Mama.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3:10

A Time to Dance

I was a bit early to the one of many annual dance recitals that take place every Spring. It was hot. According to the car thermometer, the Alabama summer was already making itself known despite it still officially being Spring. Humidity and heat – the makings of longings for a pool and fully functioning air conditioning. I was “hot as the Devil’s Armpit.” Sweat dripping down my back and the thought of a heavy meal nauseating. I enjoy people-watching (I tend to be a bit voyeuristic in nature), so despite my sweaty back and underlying nausea, I took the opportunity to people-watch.

dancer-682443_1280I find it ironic to be such a clumsy non-dancer type I’ve spent many an hour at a dance recital. Little frames with tutus that bounce with every energetic step. Slicked back updos (my particular participant and her cohorts were sporting a “side bun” held firmly in place by enough hairspray to open the ozone layer. Little lashes highlighted with initial introductions to mascara. Shiny lip gloss. And so many sequins the airport landing lights pale in comparison.

I giggled as I watched the same scene play out over and over. Mamas herding those energetic bouncing tu-tus to and fro, gripping bag upon bag filled with I don’t even know what, emergency hairspray and sequin adhesive I suppose.

Daddies dressed in their Sunday best counting the minutes to shed their tie and unbutton their collars. Siblings long ago lost in an electronic device, video games preferred over recital. Perhaps there is a video channel dedicated to just such a thing, perhaps not.

Grandparents and great grandparents braving the heat to cheer on a beloved grand baby, declaring they “Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

shawn-ang-513551-unsplash.jpgBouquets of flowers purchased to gift the performers, destined to wilt a little in the sun, all except for those few prepared recital veterans who had brought a preparatory styrofoam cup with water. I mused at how despite their obvious differences and backgrounds, for this moment in time on this particular day, they were all the same, sharing the common denominator of coming to see the cutest and best dancer there, their own. As I watched then file past me I was reminded that this season with its updos, tutus, sequins, and fun, this season is a familiar one, a season of dance.

The King’s Book says there is a season for everything a time to mourn and a time to dance. Perhaps that is why those days, those recital days are so meaningful, because it has been declared by the Lord Himself that there is a time to dance.

dance-1609233_1280

And a time to rest!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
  a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
   a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Rocks of Ages

Once I was cleaning out my tired ol’ minivan and I came across a common sight. Amongst the half eaten, hardened french fries, empty water bottles, numerous scraps of paper, and other various evidences of a Martin Family occupancy, I found a pile of rocks. They lay gingerly between seat belt buckles, having been collected just a while before. To the naked and untrained eye those rocks seemed ordinary, as ordinary as any other rocks but I knew these were not just any ol’ rocks, but for reasons I can not fully articulate these rocks were special.

The bunch that made the trip home and now lay anticipating a final resting place in kitchen window were fewer than were initially collected, but I had to limit the number lest I risk an additional 20 pounds of cargo riding around in my van. They had been collected on a typical “Martin Adventure Day.” We have those days often enough – it may be a quick trip to the fascinating recycle plant with the metal-oddity graveyard on its walls. Or it could be a trip to the local creek whereupon we talk about the vermilion darter that could be credited for saving a favorite place to swim and play. That miniscule fished saved a creek jam packed with memories and adventures of my own childhood. I tell the Martins those stories so as not to lose them to time and the break-neck speed of this life. In my mind when I am transported back, I remember the tales of family lore, a most vivid childhood memory standing on a muscadine covered walking bridge, cramming the delicious fruit into my mouth while my Mama was nearby sitting and visiting with our church friends. Ms. Christine’s house may not have actually been yellow but in my memory it was and I can still feel the juice running down my chin and the rushing water below my bare feet. That memory is one of my sweetest and most treasured, and when I am sitting on the banks of that creek I am reminded of it.

beach-15712_1280-e1560444522639.jpgI am unsure the origin of those particular rocks, but if I had to guess I would say there is a high likelihood they were collected as I traveled back to that happy place in my memory. To tell the truth, I’d forgotten they were even in my van, usually they make there way to the windowsill of the kitchen quickly, perhaps those particular rocks were abandoned at my urging that all van occupants carry their own “stuff inside.” So it wasn’t until some time later when I needed the “WayBack” seat to be flat that I found them and brought them back to my remembrance.

Rocks have been a staple in my home, going on 17 years now. They’ve served as numerous presents and gifts. They’ve served as tools and toys. Each has been carefully chosen and picked up. Some are placed in a pocket or in a purse. Others are carried in a fist. Some rocks are shaped like hearts. Some are smooth and some rough. Some are unique in color but are carefully chosen and found to be worthy of making its way to our home.

The rocks are an ever present reminder The King; He likens Himself to a Rock. He names Peter, Cephus – the Rock. He has declared that the rocks will cry out to Him is if we fail to do so.

I recognize soon there is coming a day when the rocks will cease to be gifts for me, when my kiddos will lose the wonder of choosing those gifts. In the years of late I’ve begun to see a steady decline in their collection and presentation and it saddens me. I’m reminded how quickly time flies.

I will admit that when these treasures appeared in my backseat I was overjoyed and delighted to find them there. Reminders that my Rock, my Salvation, will sustain me fully in the coming years through the change that is inevitable, and I can trust that the Rock will uphold me even in the midst of uncertainty.

person-1209310_1280.jpg

No Words

I like to write. I like a word, well more like words. I like the spoken ones, the written ones. I like the words that sound the same but have entirely different meanings, homophones. I like their, they’re, and there. I like words like adjunct, antithesis, and abundantly.

I am rarely at a loss for words. One need only to spend a few moments with me to realize I will fill the gaps, the times of silence with words. I seem to have been born with them in my mouth. Most of the world spends its days learning to speak. I have spent mine learning when not to speak. I have learned that when I am silent, someone else will fill the gaps with their words.

My Mama used to say, “Sometimes there are just no words.”

She spent many a nursing year as a Hospice nurse and she’d heard all manner of words spoken in an effort to comfort the bereaved, well-intentioned words spoken in attempt to make the Dearly Departed’s passing more palatable. My mama knew, the reality is, sometimes there is absolutely nothing that can be spoken by humanity to make things better, to make a bad situation better, words that usher in comfort and good intentions.

Sometimes Mama would use that phrase when she had observed something so bizarre or unique that she lacked the vocabulary to adequately describe it. She used it like an old Southern Lady might tilt her head and proclaim “Well I declare dear” as she has been enlightened on some new idea.

It should not have come as a surprise to me when I lost the words. When they just were not there. I’d found myself shaken to my core and try as I may I simply could not make the words I needed to. I found myself repeatedly in stunned silence. I would attempt to lightstock_503199_download_medium_user_43204746pray and there were no words. Sometimes there would be tears, hundreds of them, they fell as readily from my eyes as words so often do from my lips. I would try to speak but it was like I could move my mouth and no audible sound came forth. I would be screaming inside but not even a whisper was there. My written words were just as few, I would attempt to sit and to write to journal what I knew necessary, but I just couldn’t. My fingers would glide over the qwerty keyboard and nothing…no punctuation, no sentence fragments, no run on sentences and comma splices, the repeat grammar offenses I make. I would slam my hands down on the keyboard in frustration and vacate my chair out of disgust.

I tried all the “tricks” to stimulate communication, reading a favorite author or two, having a more intense and intentional prayer time. I tried to talk nonsense and fluff in hopes that deeper and more substantial words would push their way through. I would pray. And suddenly one day I had the realization of something I had not known before, a promise I have known as truth but never truly experienced. As I poured out my heart and grieved I found myself telling God what He already knew.

“I’ve got nothing.”

He knew, he always knows and by way of provision He brought to my remembrance something I knew, have known, for a long time.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 ESV

He reminded me through His word that there were no words, but there didn’t have to be. He was, He is, interceding on my behalf in a language of words known only to Him. In the stunned silence I could trust He would pray over me exactly what I needed. I could trust that healing would come and that soon enough the words would return.

untitled-design-3-e1554738509921.png

A Piece of Peace Pie

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

There are concerted efforts to teach the Martin three not just in word but in deed. Since they were little, actually before they were, the Martins have attended church. Each Sunday begins with family prayer time. Most often it occurs in the car and for the sake of simplicity we declare who will “dial” and who will “hang up.” Sometimes we go “in age order” youngest to oldest.

The prayers, they are as varied as the ones verbalizing them. We’ve prayed for people and days, talents and skills, worship and recognition. We’ve prayed for pets and provision. We’ve offered ourselves up collectively as a family and voiced our individual petitions as well. Some of us are long-winded and can take a while, while others of us are direct and to the point.

pumpkin-pie-1041330__340So when he said, “Lord, Thank you that we Martins know peace, and not like a piece of pizza or a piece of pie,” I thought I might lose it. My bowed head shot up, eyes darted to execute a quick glance to my left as the driver of our vehicle continued on “We know Peace from you. Shalom Peace.” I knew what he meant and I must admit that I was a bit taken aback that he had just prayed it.

Naturally it gave me cause to ponder, so ponder I did. He is the patriarch of our family, full of quiet wisdom and leadership, in stature large and strong. Constant, steady, and secure. When it comes to comparison, he’s an unlikely specimen. There has never been one quite like him. So as he prayed and “hung up” just as we turned into the church park lot, I began to ponder what he said we knew. Shalom, peace, the very word itself means completeness, soundness, welfare. It was a declaration he had spoken. As the day progressed into night and we had both worked, children had cleaned house, watched a favorite tv show, had a hotdog lunch, a snack cake snack, an uneventful and most routine kind of day, the realization that the mundane is only possible because we do in fact know that Shalom.

cheesecake-1149481__340That peace that can transcend understanding, a peace that isn’t like its homophonic counterpart, a piece that can be easily consumed or separated from its whole. We Believers are that Shalom peace. We make one another better. In that Peace we can rest. Scott Martin likely did not know when he prayed those words out loud that he would impact my thoughts for the day.

That is just how he is, he leads in an unconventional manner. We used to be like two competitors: he a steady and forward moving, me always rushing past him, unaware of my surroundings. Eventually I would realize my folly, stop and wait for him to catch up, only to do it again. The Marriage Marathon proved to be exhausting when I would execute it in such a manner. Over time I have learned, we both have learned, to nurture. We no longer find ourselves competing as much as complementing one another. We walk side by side, our pace dictated by him and I learn the value of patience. It has taken me many years to realize that he leads like the King, with Grace and in humility, and for that I am thankful indeed.

Shalom! - Peace.png

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Ain’t Nothin’ Like a good Yarn

There’s a hymn I like. I like the words “I love to tell the story….something, something” I forget the rest but then I hum the tune. I like it because the words resonate with me. I do indeed love to tell a story. I love to hear a good story too.

Once in the third grade I learned another name for story was yarn. I underlined that vocabulary word, yarn, put a dash out beside it and defined it as a narrative of adventures, or in other words, a fabulously told story. I’d already had much experience with such things. I come from a long line of yarn spinners, and by the time 3rd grade rolled around and provided me another name for a story, my love of one had already been declared.

240_F_174659593_Jt21ciyKWDwmmTcreU84GRrwon5WPkQZMy Aunt Sis, yep that’s a thing, an Aunt Sis, a for real person, who can spin a yarn better than most. She filled my 9-year-old ears with tales of the poor Hinkle children barefoot and stair-stepped playing for hours in the woods. She told of me about adventures long since passed and mostly forgotten, adventures that’d’ve even made Huck Finn jealous. I reckon the love of a good story comes from deep within the roots of who I am.

Part of a good story is the teller. The narrator of the story has the power to make or break it. I practiced my yarn skills growing up and to this day when my story gets a little heavy on insignificant details, a little long on the verbiage my mama will often, in an exasperated tone say “For the love!!! Land this baby!!” That means, I’ve talked too long and it’s time to wrap it up. Sometimes I can hear her in my head when I am posting on the Facebook, writing out a Blog post, recounting my day, any number of storytelling mediums. I can hear her saying the same “For the Love! Land this one already.” I’ve just a mind to do that.

There is a particular Storyteller who happens to be one of my favorites. I love how he carefully weaves his words together to produce such an accurate picture I can almost smell those biscuits his mama cooks or feel the air of the Alabama mountains. Unlike another one of my favorites, I’ve never met this guy. He’d likely say, “Amy Martin who?” unless of course he coincidentally knew one of the other 900 Amy Martins in the state of Alabama.

He regularly writes for 2 of my favorite periodicals. I asked mama just the other day if she’d gotten her latest edition of the issue to which she holds a subscription. His writings require trips to the library for me to catch up on his wordsmithing publications. However there is one, that like many Southerners, my Mama holds a subscription. She reads it and places it on the coffee table knowing I’ll make my way there to read it. I will often head to her house, make myself a Pepsi on ice, settle in my favorite chair, flip to the next to last page of the newest issue and find his article. We meet regularly, the Author and I, having settled in for a one-sided conversation with an old friend. It is a few moments every month I truly enjoy.

So when recently I inquired about the location of her latest issue to my dismay she said, “No, I let my subscription run out.”

photo-1469708105586-50396e970312I debated going to library or even the dreaded Big Store of Confusion to see what my friend had to say for the month. But as it would happen, after a drive in a torrential downpour, peering through foggy windows and a safe arrival 10 minutes late for an appointment, I looked on the waiting room table and there he sat, as if he were waiting for me to come in from the rain. In that long-awaited issue, He talked of New Orleans and beads and hotdogs. I mused at his statement about the men in Dr Seuss hats, “because you couldn’t get snockered enough for a Dr. Seuss hat, even if you had not grown up Congregational Holiness.” The King must’ve known when he prompted its placement on a table, I needed it desperately. A little something just for me. It was in fact, a reminder that the King knows the little things and the big things and is concerned with the details of my life.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:1-4

 

Attention to the Details

“My word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”        Isaiah 55:11

She comes from a long line of art lovers.

Her Daddy, Mama, and Grandmother are each artists in their own right.

She loves to draw and it is the form of communication where she is most at ease. I’ve learned much about her from studying those drawings. Sketchbook after sketchbook filled with telling information. She has aptly named them journals. Every week since she was in about the 3rd grade we have attended weekly Bible Study. Since we began, our Bible Study journey our Bible Study day looks a tad different.

It starts on the Tuesday night before with “Set Up” and finishes on Wednesday evening as I collapse into a jello-like heap on the sofa. Wednesday night supper is always referred to as “Brain dead food” because I am so brain-dead I can not even think clearly sometimes. Studying the King’s Word in-depth has been real good medicine in my life and I am thankful that it is readily available for me and my Modern Day Bethany Three.

But, I ain’t even gonna lie, there have been times I’ve wondered if any of them even absorb anything. If the days of “doing their homework” isn’t just a check off on the day to avoid the wrath of Mama and teacher and going to the aforementioned Bible Study isn’t just a time to see their friends. Recently, after a social skills inspired game of Apples to Apples I instituted mandatory quiet time. Charlotte positioned herself into our sunroom. When she emerged she had independently completed a most complicated adult Bible Study lesson. Evidently she was able to recall the answer to a question I had about a particular something from a previous week, and in answering had begun to draw what in her mind’s eye was the answer.

High_Priest_Offering_Sacrifice_of_a_GoatI was in awe of the detail. The special Priestly Garments, even when we studied it, the details amazed me, perhaps it is because I don’t always see the details. A few weeks prior, we studied the covering of the priest, his role and all that surrounded his duties. We noted how all of that was a word picture of what was to come and we Martins decided we were glad we were living in the time of Grace, the time after Messiah. When we no longer needed “ginger cows” aka a red heifer to be purified.

We giggled when we thought about how Daddy would look dressed as a Priest or how mad I might be if I weren’t one and couldn’t talk to God directly. We rolled when we decided Shelton wouldn’t so much mind the smell of it all and how gross so many of the duties were. We’d concluded Shelton could in fact, be the only one of us that could’ve carried out the duties without losing his sacrificial blessed lunch.

The conversations we’ve had as a result of studying together are some of my most treasured, that I’ve tucked away in my mama heart. None of which we would’ve had if we weren’t studying the same thing. I love that in her illustration, Charlotte made light of a dreadful situation, that despite the obvious presence in the desert and the constant whining of the Israelites, there was still joy and silliness she found. I’ve said often, throughout that year’s Journey from the Red Sea to the Jordan River, that I totally can identify with Moses and even the Lord. I know what it’s like to make a trip with a bunch of ungrateful, whiny kids, and I can sympathize. The Martin 3 usually look at me blankly and don’t say anything.

Truth is I’m one of the whiniest ones and no doubt the King thinks the same about me. It is to Him I am thankful for opening the door of His Word for us Martins, for easing the trip through the desert place, for giving me glimpses into how He works in the life of the Martins, and for the reminder that He concerns Himself with the details.

pexels-photo

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

A Good Friday

“My stomach hurts.”

That was all he said as we exited our vehicle that Good Friday. I had just capitalized on the opportunity of a captive audience as we drove to a friend’s house. I had taken the opportunity of a captive (in a literal sense, they literally were captive in my van – not to be confused with intrigued and spellbound) audience to elaborate on the events of that First Good Friday. As the Martin 3 and I traversed the roads I spent the time telling them the timeline of Jesus’ last hours. I want them to grow up with an ever-present knowledge of how He loves them and what He was willing to do on their behalf.

As we meandered over the curvy roads I explained how He healed an ear, was dropped down a hole, stood next to a known murderer, who despite a warning Pilate had to free -beaten. I took an opportunity to remind them of the world history they’ve learned and the role of the Roman Empire. I reminded them of the Passover we had experienced the night before with some friends and the significance of the Pascal Lamb. I told them how He was beaten, and not only was He beaten, He was mocked and humiliated, hurt beyond anything we could imagine. How at the very moment He needed the Father, the Father wasn’t there.

catholic-celestial-christ-37737.jpgI told them about the temple and the veil and how human hands couldn’t have torn it. I told them about words He spoke from the cross. I explained how crucifixion works and how Jesus died before there was an opportunity to receive the final blow leading to death. I told them this and reminded them over and over and over that the motivation for such a terrible thing was Love. A love like the world had never seen before. A love like no other. A love for each of them. A love so strong that Jesus took their place. He took my place. He took on the sin of the world.

As we reached our destination the heaviness was palpable in the car. The chatty Martin 3 were silent a moment. Maggie, who seems to understand best how much she needs the King, expressed her love for Him and was delighted to know what He said from the cross. Charlotte, my silent ponderer, just looked around, and I could almost see her thoughts of silent reflection. Shelton, only said the above statement.

“My stomach hurts.”

Those 3 words made me understand exactly what he was thinking. Shelton is much like his mama and when I am deeply troubled by something my stomach hurts. When I empathize with someone who is hurting, my stomach hurts. I reminded him that all is well, because despite the events I had just described. Jesus is alive and He loves us. He is close and we do not have to be afraid. And he came to take away all the hurts.

Then in the time it took to walk from a curb to the front door of a friend’s home his stomach no longer hurt.

A Good Friday indeed.

untitled-design-3.png

 

As you go about your day tomorrow, Good Friday, meditate upon the the stomach churning events of that Friday some 2,000+ years ago. Allow yourself to absorb the gravity of the sacrifice He made, so that Sunday you may rejoice in the victory of His resurrection.

 

Hashtag #PalmSunday #StunnedSilence

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” 

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

John 12:12-15

 

Every summer our family, along with my Mama and my sister and her family take an annual beach trip. We prefer the Alabama Gulf Coast and the very most western part of the Florida coast as our vacation destination. That geographical location is familiar and when we go there it feels like home. We aren’t real big on attractions or extras. We are typically there for the sand and water. We have a few dining dives we like to visit, but this is limited to a just a few and most of them can be visited in a coverup for a late lunch or happy hour, shoes may or may not even be required.

The Martins always take a Day field trip, educational in nature so as to count at least one day of vacation as a day of school. We’ve been to the art center and the nature center, the library. Scott Martin proudly boasts an Orange Beach Public Library card he obtained on a previous excursion to the local public library. (The beach library will give a card to near anybody and there is no such thing as a late fine there. We determined we are well suited for the Orange Beach Library.) Other than the aforementioned, there aren’t really any predetermined plans. If I had to classify us, I reckon I’d call us laid back in our vacation approach.

We are fairly consistent in our vacationing, that is except for the year of 2010. That year the Gulf Coast of Alabama experienced an oil spill and we vacationed in Panama City. That year we stayed at a fancy-like place with huge pools and “fun for everyone.” That year Maggie Martin announced to some random kid in the huge pool “That’s my Dad. He’s a lot bigger than my Mom.” That one still makes me giggle all these years later.
The look on Scott Martin’s face was priceless. I don’t even know if hashtags were around back then but if they were this just might have been a sampling: #NoWords #StunnedSilence #WellTheresThat #Random #ICYMI #Duh #What #WeDontKnowYouKid #ThisFancyPoolNotOurStyle #BigDad #BigMomToo #RandomKidWeNeverSawAgain

Anyway, that vacation proved to be different in many ways. One thing though was the same, I awoke early and headed out of doors, the King’s book and the earliest of the Martin risers alongside me, specifically the aforementioned sharer of random and obvious information.

beach-beach-chairs-coconut-trees-261186.jpgAs we sat on the balcony overlooking the fancy pool, a team of landscapers was already hard at work. They had been tasked with trimming the palm trees. The fancy pool of the fancy resort had dozens of them. There was a climber who sawed, like he used a literal saw, no plucking or pinching, those branches had to be cut away. There was a gatherer and a cleaner-upper; the jobs were many and I marveled at how there was a lot of work going into the palm tree trimming. Heavy duty work, the very thing vacations are not made of. They were focused and deliberate in their task, beads of sweat rolling down their faces. I grew tired just watching them.

As the King’s word sat open on my lap I watched those trained individuals make an unintentional carpet of palm branches and it hit me. For all my years that day, the one known as Palm Sunday, had seemed, well, lack luster to me. The following week is my favorite, after all, that’s where all the action is, all of humanity’s sin debt paid for and the King conquered death, once and for all.

In addition, the week prior to Resurrection Day serves to frustrate me that a group of folks could be yelling “Hosanna!” To the King one day and not even a week later the same fickle folks are yelling “Crucify Him!” I’ve always just imagined their praise was half-hearted and insincere, that was, until the palm tree trimming. I realized in that moment that to remove palm branches and make way for the King would have required a deliberate action. There would have been considerable effort required to lay those palm branches on the road that Sunday morning, a degree of sincerity, would have served as the motivation required for such a laborious task. It occurred to me in that moment that I am those same fickle folks. Sincere and devoted one minute, caught up in the moment the next.

As I watched that fancy resort grounds crew trim those palms, I made a note and dated it so as not to forget that act of worship on that first Palm Sunday so many centuries ago, and to remind myself that to obtain a palm branch would have been difficult and would have to have been chosen and deliberate just as my worship of the King should be. The fickle folks and I have more in common than I’d realized and because of that picture of deliberate choice and act of worship, the commemorated day, Palm Sunday, for me is less and less about the fickle folks and more and more about My King who rode a donkey, the worship I offer him. His love and grace, his willingness to suffer that would set a plan in motion that has been the catalyst for the single most life-changing event that I have ever experienced and for that… there really are no adequate words and it leaves me in stunned silence.

Library Lover

I was a library aid once.

I used to know the Dewey Decimal System and it’s complimentary card catalog with such accuracy that I rarely had to use any resource or cheat sheet when shelving books. Now the library boasts a librarian from the computer… a cybrarian. He or She’s not very personable but it gets the job done. In my opinion the Cybrarian is not nearly as tactilely stimulating. I can still feel my fingers glide over thousands of tiny cards alphabetically organized. Their yellowed hue and unmistakable scent a testament to their age. Only the new additions to the the library shelves boasted crisp white cards. All of their text, typed out with an old fashioned typewriter, they held the key to knowing where knowledge lay.

When I was younger, like maybe 5, I remember sitting cross legged on the floor of the nearest public library sounding out words that would string together to make a sentence. backpack-books-bookshelves-256431Sentences constructed together to make a page and those pages made a story. The day an old house in Paris covered in vines came alive to me was a day that changed my life. Perhaps deep in the recesses of my mind that emergency appendectomy (it would be 17 plus years before I heard that word or knew what it was) and that smallest of girls helped to persuade me into a medical profession. Perhaps not, but one thing is certain, I always have and do love a public library. I could list the reasons and they include but are not limited to:

-Magazines I am too cheap to buy, but still love to peruse are not in short supply.
-The library is quiet. I need quiet to think, therefore it is a thinking space.
-I love the the smell of books. Smells solidify memories for me I suppose.
-The library is free. A good public library is a good budget friendly way to spend an afternoon indoors. I am sure those in-door-bouncy-parks are nice too but they cost money and the library does not.
-My children have a shared love of the library. They frequently ask me to drive them to a favorite one or two.
-I’ve found myself lost and in need of healing, many times that healing has resided within the pages of a book.

I have come to understand that within words there is power. The power to transform, Words are transforming and none more so than the Bible. Perhaps, long before I loved the King’s Word, I learned to love the place where words were housed. Perhaps am element of foreshadowing as it were, that would illuminate my path just as it is promised in His book of Psalms.

Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

pexels-photo-38048