Monthly Archives: January 2013

These 4 walls speak of life…


It’s late.  Everyone is in bed and the house is so quiet.  College boys left today to return to university, I cried as usual,  and babies and children I cared for today are long past bedtime.  Their moms, probably just now turning out the lights, exhausted.

And I sit.  I listen.  I look.  And it hits me:  What life God has let live between the 4 walls of my existence from my birth!  Amazed, my mind goes back and rolls forward….

2 parents who unceasingly loved God and tried to live for Him. (game-changer, as they would say these days)

5 cousins come to live with us when I was barely 2.  Most of them attribute their faith to my parents.  One night, Carl, an older cousin, joining the army, got to use my white canopy bed when he was at home.  I was to sleep on a cot in another room.  They encouraged me to go find out if Carl was an inny or an outy…a survey I had embarked upon that night.  We all were mostly innys.  Carl would not be the tie breaker, but I had to know.  I crept into my room, which he occupied, I slowly and quietly pulled the covers down to check, and he roared up like a monster, frightening me to death and sending me running & screaming to my mother’s and father’s room down the hall.  I hated it.  Until, not so long afterward, Carl joined the army voluntarily.  Viet Nam.  Some kind of bomb.  Hospital, but finally the ultimate loss.  I was either 6 or 7, but this memory is etched so deeply…crying, senselessness, phrases at the front door, loud 21 guns, flag, food when no one was hungry, crying…and our cat ate his bird….it’s all blurred, but for me still it’s all disastrous.

Yet, Carl had been so alive in those walls.  Even as a grown young man in a white canopied bed, he had so much life that he was ready to tease me by scaring me when I went to check his belly button.

I guess that’s when the lesson began.  Live life in these walls until you ain’t got it no more.  And I did.  All out.  Even as a young pre-teen and teen, I lived it for God.

Then college and graduate school and staff on a ministry, and there was always someone who seemed to come alive in the dwelling God had granted me…a small dorm room, a larger dorm room, a duplex…

Then babies, lots of baby boys.  As they came, the joy and the struggle tangled up like roots of an old tree grew.  Yet, no one would doubt there was life in our 4 walls.  3 babies in an upstairs apartment with no washer or drier, but we saw God…through our families, through our church, through our neighbors.  Groceries at the door, checks in the mail, meals delivered– God kept the life living in those four walls.

We moved, and moved again.  We ached with the loss of friends. Our Papa died.  The mama (me) of our clan struggled.  And struggled some more.  The dad (Charles) stayed strong and true to God even as the first day.  Life thrived in the 4 walls.  In spite of my lack, my struggles, my sin.  Life thrived…maybe with more awareness of God’s grace because of my insufficiency. It was His grace that kept us all.

More life comes…so many guys, buddies, sweet friends, to play x-box, shoot arrows, make explosions, eat our food, just hang out, bless us, bless us, bless us.  The life in the walls continues to be vibrant…explosive…joyful.  (we have many to thank for that).

Girls laughter.  It sounds strange in our home.  We comment on it, that we kind of like it.  Girls talking…wow.  Just wow.  A whole new dimension has entered the walls and we love it and we pray.

And now children.  Not grandchildren, as I had once imagined, but children of the covenant fill the space of these walls and I continue to be amazed.  As I keep others’ kids I am so blessed.  I write this with the most sincerity and honesty.  I hear these little ones ask for more and I think “God make them want more of You.”  They repeat my words, even “bilabong,” and I am reminded I am an example.  A brother says to his sister, “Here, you can have some of mine,”  and a firstborn says, “Excuse me, ms jill,” all the little ones want to pat the feet of the baby.  It makes me know life thrives…right here in the 4 old dusty walls.

I realize tonight as I sit in the silence of these walls, I have been most blessed of all.  For life has always flourished in these 4 walls, despite our lack, despite our uncertainty, despite our sin, despite anything I can name, He has been faithful…HE…HE has made life flourish in these four walls.

The fine print…


Charles and I can’t help but laugh.  Every time an advertisement comes on the tv about some medicine that will help one problem, and then goes on to describe the 20 other problems it may cause, we laugh.  Of course, most everyone probably knows the most famous ad….It claims to help with marital relations, but  it may cause “sudden vision loss, hearing loss, chest pains, shortness of breath….”  So, a man might be blind, deaf, having a heart attack and lack oxygen, but he can accomplish one thing (that is if he can find his woman and get to her before he dies!)  There are many other commercials with the same “fine print.”

One day, as I heard one of these commercials, I thought, “What if we could hear the truths about sin like that?”  Satan would come to us and say, “Do this and you can do one thing….Cheat and you’ll have more money, lie and you can keep your pride, drink and you can relax, defend yourself and you’ll be protected, don’t try to work things out with your spouse or you will lose your rights.”  In the moment, we may take it hook, line and sinker.  But as we continue in Satan’s plan we begin to experience the fine print.  We too, become blind to truth, fearful of being found out, our hearing for God’s whispers diminishes, our marriage seems to be less and less redeemable, our health fails.  The list is almost inexhaustible of the horrible plans Satan has for us.  He only comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

On the other hand, what Jesus offers may often seem less desirable right at first. “Die to yourself, let go of your pride, tell the truth and trust, give control over to Him and see what He does.”  Yet, when we read His fine print we find grace, abundant life, everlasting life, joy, hope and unconditional love.  

Life is a process, moment by moment we have to choose which “pill” we are going to swallow.  Will it be for short term comfort or control, trying to escape pain, but ultimately leading to it?  Or will it be the pill that may be toughest to swallow at the moment, but most healing and life-giving in the long run?

God’s way will include some valleys, struggles and pain, but it is the way to know true, lasting love, as described in one of my favorite books, The Velveteen Rabbit:

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. 

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ 

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ 

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 

― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit