Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Aaah, Summer

Aaah, Summer. A time for me to wake up when my mind tells me to, not the alarm. Conversation with God in the morning with warm coffee in hand, percolates in me a peaceful approach for the rest of the day. Wellness, mindfulness of His promises, the birds sing for they already know. I enjoy the June “gloom” although I think of it as “beachy” weather and soak up the afternoon rays, tending to my growing garden. I might just take a few pictures and zoom into nature and the wonder of it all, cell phone camera in hand. It’s quiet time, reflection time, assessment time. Yes, I do have a few projects to tackle, creative things I wish to explore and conversations to have. Summer for me brings refreshment, like a refill of a tall iced tea, a diving in to the pool of goodness and remembrance of what God has done, the opening up even more so of the sunflower petals revealing more seeds for His purposes, a little exploring possibly. Summer, a sanctuary season of hope, a peaceful paradise for my soul, an opportunity to listen to my own thoughts and lay them like a blanket against the innumerable warm sand grains of God’s plan.

Aaah, Summer. My phone rings early, very early. It’s my Texas buddy who I’d like to think is so anxious to talk with me, confuses the time difference. Weren’t you suppose to call at 9? Your time or my time? We giggle. That’s OK, because…actually, I am super excited to chit-chat with her! We talk about life stuff, the good and the difficult, past and present, justice and relationships, tornado sirens and preparedness, faith-filled friends and hope in their circumstances. We'll do it all over agan next week, though I hope not so early for me. 

Do you have a friend who points you always to God? Our common concerns leads us to the same conclusion, we must keep trusting Him. Amen.

Aaah, Summer. I hear noises downstairs and I am reminded that today, construction (tearing up before something new comes) begins on a wall in my living room. This rental house, our home the last 12 years needs a few improvements and…its summer, I’m home. 

“Hola… can we come in?”

It begins. I am still in P.J.’s.  I lock myself upstairs and prepare for the day.  It is Tuesday, the first Tuesday of my summer. The gardeners come on Tuesday and I hear the rumble of multiple lawn mowers and blowers.  A bit later, I come downstairs. Now covered in plastic sheeting to protect from dust and flying debris, my living area is off limits. I move around the corner to the hallway and kitchen.

Puddles. Water. Not the kind you want to run through for summer fun.

The toilet downstairs chose to overflow, somewhere between the time hubby left for work and my trek downstairs. I knock on my son’s door and squish onto his carpet.

Aaah, Summer. Our small wet/dry vac does not do the job, so a borrowed one, industrial-size, finds its way from the neighbor’s house to ours. Now, my “quiet world” shouts lawn mowers, hammers, sawzalls, talking construction workers and a large vacuum cleaner.  I settle into my thoughts. My plans are not God’s plans. I hear Him above the noise. 

New things take work. Broken things need attention and sometimes demand it in not such a graceful way. Maintenance is something we must do every day, consistently in our week to stimulate more growth and rid the weeds. You can tell which places do that, those that don't. 

I know which one I want to reflect. 

Aaah, Summer. Maybe it’s not the quiet peace I need to pull into, though that is a good thing, but it's how God shows up in the disruptive places, the over flowing, uncertain places, the messy places. Isn’t that me?

Wake me up God, with your voice of love and hope. Pull me downstairs Lord and deconstruct my attitude and frame again, the parts that do not reflect or lead to Your Glory. Mow me over, Lord, with Your grace and goodness and show me how to best maintain my Spirit towards Your sovereign plan. I long to trust You more with the outcomes I do not yet see. 

Aaah, Summer. One day at a time to shine and prepare for a Harvest of magnificent bounty. Thank you Spirit, like the sunflower, keep my head turning towards You... in anything and everything, in all things. 

Like a Monet painting displayed before me, my butterfly garden is viewed through a lens of construction plastic. Beauty in not just in the ashes but can be displayed in the process as well. 

Considerably Yours... even in construction,


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

But God: An Intentional Love Story.

I stepped into the hospital chapel, alone. 

But God? A burden pushed from every side. It weighed so heavily within my spirit, yet my body barely functioned in its numb state. A thousand pounds might fall into my lap and I wouldn't have felt it. Only one exception, my lungs ached trying to breathe.

What language did I speak? 

I couldn't put words together in my mind, yet...I knew God interpreted my confusion, my desperate pleas, the anguish in every teardrop. My head hung in a sacred place where many had come before me in this same state, some knowing hope, some...maybe not. There remained nothing I could do, and everything I could do as I inhaled in pain and exhaled in promise.

I learn of my son, Tim's death.  He was so tired. 

Tears of surrender and anguish moved with the fluid prayers, both conscious and underlying. Time. Stop. Rewind, so I won't forget anything. Outside, his father and others paced, did their own petitioning. He heard the words first. I did not. My husband's eyes conveyed a sudden truth no one wanted to recognize.

Let this tsunami pull back, disintegrate, evaporate as if nothing broke the dam of reality. 

In that moment, no utterances surfaced, held under by the pieces of many shattered hearts. God, in all His glorious love and grace, never felt so real and so worthy of all my worship until that very moment.

Full Sail

Twelve years have passed and I am different. Different from that very second and transformed over time. All these collective moments both anchor me and set me free. Learning to find peace in both places,  the Lord God sets the course and I must trust Him.

Like the tides, faithful and true, covering up and pulling back to reveal treasures, the tide pools of tears and memory shells provide discovery and a deeper both the wading...(the waiting) and the deep, my story.

I want to, I need to, I must voyage through Your perfect Will, Lord. 

You, Lord, in Your great love for me, For Timmy, are so intentional. As I write these thoughts, pour out my praise and prayers, I press in, buckle tight the grace gift life vest. It wraps around me in perfection and comfort and I see the generous deck hands You have provided to sail along with me. They, as well, are intentional, devoted, my own miracles.

I might have stayed under the heavy tarp of despair and grief..., the grommets of regret and isolation held fast to the what ifs, the should haves, BUT GOD...

I allowed, directed my self to feel His Spirit as all the deck hands prayed, continue to pray and honor our Creator and Giver of life. I billowed up, caught by the Wind and I began to sail through the waters only You charted for me, a personal, intentional course.

I dock in beautiful Ports of Calling and walk along shores where grace ripples so gently and so amazingly. Hope unpacks the grief and restores this vessel for myself, for others.  A certain horizon awaits me, the full sail Glory of the Lord in my own return Home but until then, I will speak of, serve and worship The Lord of Promise whose Love is intentional for every one of us.

Psalm 27: 13-14 
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait on the Lord. 

Let go, Let God
He is Lord
Grace is Amazing
Heaven is Real

Considerably Yours,

Sunday, December 16, 2018

...And Then I Hear Him

I watch, holding my breath
Feeling both pain and overcoming joy.
His tiny features and newborn skin bond to my soul,
As I hold him so close, forever mine.
I ponder motherhood, an honorary role,
Intentional blessedness
So much to learn…
            And then I hear his cry,
            Prayers begin to yearn.

I watch as an angel appears before me
In the garden’s morning walk.
His magnificence shines and I am amazed at the sight.
He speaks words of purpose, a Holy Plan to be
I bow in awe and wonder as He speaks of Coming Light.
How God…why me?
            And then I hear him call me Favored One,
            Mary, so shall it be.

I watch as he grows and discovers,
Curiosity catapults and words articulate.
Motherhood is fun and hard, many surprises and delights.
Settled into somewhat routine
Jotting down memories, maybe some highlights.
The reality of life sets in
Detours appear,  Grace guiding us down the hard road
            And then I hear Him whisper…
            I will help carry your load.

I watch Him grow in wisdom and stature,
In favor with God and man.
Already set to do His Will , teaching
At the Temple, he stayed too long
Asking questions, listening, preparing for preaching…
Soon He would gather
The twelve Fisher’s of Men,
            And then I hear Him announce,
            “I’m about to begin.”

I watch him lay so still
That machine breathing in, breathing out.
Motherhood is love and hope, faith and…trust.
Prayers now in desperation
Oh, how I know God is a stronghold, a must,
As his spirit leaves,
To meet God on that night.
            And then I hear Him comfort me,
            “I promise to make this right.”

I watched Him as they mocked,
Spat at Him and lashed,
He walked with that Cross,
To the hill called Golgotha,  
And one hung alongside to believe
And one paid the cost.
Spikes driven, upright stood.
             And then I hear Him tell me,
            “Behold, your Son, this too will be good.”

I watched Him, again in the garden and beyond
My heart seeking more and longing for the Deeper Things.
His generously guided grace surrounds
To heal , infuse, purpose me
With the supernatural in and around.
I miss him so, it is true,
But the promises are Eternal…
            And then I hear Him give me
            A purpose, for the time here, external.

I watched Him as He died, prepared Him for that tomb
But on that third day, God’s preparation completed the Plan.
All the wrongs in the world hung with Him that day
For He Is God’s Son you see, the final Sacrificial Lamb
Overcoming death and sin, in the blood-price He paid.
Confess your need
Give Him your heart
            And then you’ll hear Him tell you
            I love you My child, and I will never depart.

 Considerably Yours,
Merry Christmas


Monday, November 5, 2018

The Walk

Years of walking,
I've experienced humanity along this path
In gratitude and grief, longing and hoping,
knowing and obeying. 
I've never walked alone. Never.

The Father's plan all along, to do His Will

Today marked the start of a different trek,
One prepared from the very beginning
When the roads started to diverge.
Our efforts in place, the Hope for a cure,
A promise-- if one believes.

The Father's Plan all along, free will.

I knew this time, again, inevitable wounds.
Fear was not an option; it lies, deceives.
We met in the desert, those wilderness places.
It tried walking me to the edge.
I scoff at the ignorance for I see fear's fate.

My Father's Plan all along, forever to reign.

The weight held my feet
As if captured in an animal trap.
With each movement,
Especially the first open-eyed breath of morning light
I knew what must be done.

I'd walk with the burdens, all of them.
With the mocking--loud and the memory crown, piercing.
The silent ones hurt more, those who say but never do,
Who know, yet seek the temporary.
I walk for all. I love for all.

The Father's Plan all along, to give it all over to Him.

With bloodied feet numb
I shed grief's loss to gain righteousness.
Right thinking
Right doing
Right living under and through His Grace.

The Father's Plan all along, Resurrection.

The burden heavy in my human weakness
Yet there are those who help me carry
I arrive and Grace begins.
The promises of Hope plugs in to dance
To the music of victory, to the symphony of purpose.

The Father's plan all along, Merciful Redemption

The Campaign gathers the disciples,
The afflicted, the faithful,
Who walk with me. We grow together,
Learn and listen, pray, Oh, the prayers!
We remember the why and the who.

The Father's Plan all along, Greater Love.

Past, present and future converge.
Hope arises from the intersection,
Where arms stretch out, chests heave,
Legs strain to lift and open lungs
Until its done and history changes.

The Father's Plan all along, that He makes One Way.

Here, death is remembered
But life peers into Eternity
For all those who give of themselves,
Surrender their own will,
And I am redirected to Heaven.

The Father's Plan all along, Communion. 

Peace pours back down
And True Believers receive the gifts.
Hearts and feet walk side by side along the Way
Forever changed, forever comforted, forever loved,
Forever knowing,  His Plan all along...Glory

Considerably Yours,
Coleene VanTilburg

Friday, September 14, 2018

In Memorium, Sarah Hutson

In the very beginning Aspiring Writers’ Forum or A.W.F. as we like to call ourselves, formed a bond amongst the members who transformed the table on Wednesday nights, sharing our thoughts in written word, our days in anecdotal stories and our hopes in words and imagined dreams of the glory and grace surrounding us. Our friend, Sarah Hutson sat amongst us in those first couple of years.  With a genuine wit, she always made us laugh.

When I think of Sarah, I think of a spunky, young, single mom, with a huge heart for her family, her job, and especially her son, Gavin. She possessed many talents involving theater art, something she thought she might pursue as a career, but God led her down another path, one she also succeeded in, encompassing both her intellect, her loving spirit and “family.” Employed as a social worker, specifically, she walked children and hopeful couples through the foster and adoption process, a gift of patience, insight and long hours, she saw the fruition of many hopes and dreams. 

Sarah did all this fighting cancer, fighting for her own life, her own future but in that she trusted God wholeheartedly, as she herself proclaimed her adoption into God’s family.

In early summer, God gave me an impromptu way to serve Sarah, and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to give her a ride home from church one warm Sunday afternoon. We talked a lot and it wasn’t idle chit-chat. I asked her a few questions I just wanted to know.  I felt comfortable enough around her to inquire and she shared in transparency, she shared humbly, she shared with her hopes and dreams still attached. My heart swelled in thankfulness for this dear, strong woman, my friend, who in her frail and painful state, encouraged me, made me laugh and believe even more that God’s plans are good and that light shines in and through the darkness.  As I pulled up to her house, I held her hand and we prayed together, one last time.

In those first few months of AWF, we did a crazy thing. (Somehow, I think Sarah helped move this idea forward). Putting together stories of unique perspectives from the Christmas Story, an Advent book came together. A collaborative effort, Sarah contributed three stories. I chose to share one of them here, “The Shepherdess.” I am reminded of my friend, a shepherdess in her own way, leading lost little lambs to forever families, telling cheerful and funny stories while waiting and watching in darkness over those things she loved so dearly. Thank you Sarah, for pointing out the glorious lights in heaven with your shining courageous Spirit and for inspiring us all with your faithful, unrelenting hope in a Greater Shepherd who comforts us now in our tears and our memories.

In love and gratitude,  Rest in Peace my friend,
Considerably yours, 
Coleene VanTilburg

Sarah and her son Gavin

The Shepherdess
By Sarah Hutson

Angels, that’s what she heard. That’s what awakened Deborah and her family. Even her unborn child seemed alert and moving. At first, she thought she was dreaming, but when she looked around she saw other shepherds waking from their huddled groups and staring at the sky. A sky alive with color and movement that swirled together to form heavenly figures. The sky filled with the messengers of heaven. The air itself crackled around Deborah and an unseen force drew her and her loved ones to their feet.

“Be not afraid,” the angels said. “Unto you a Savior is born, go and worship Him.”

“We are mere shepherds, the lowest of the village,” Deborah said to her husband. “Why would a Savior be born for us? What right do we have to worship at His feet?”

Her husband drew her close, “I too am afraid; but they have told us to go to the Child and bear witness of His birth. I do not understand why we have been chosen, but I will obey.”

The call of the angels overcame the fears of her mind, and they began to walk toward Bethlehem. Her hesitant, doubtful steps    began to hasten. Those around her seemed to be walking faster as well; some even began to run. She moved quickly through the streets, and her husband reached out to help steady her. When he took her hand, she was surprised to find him shaking. And when she looked into his eyes, she found them filled with love.

They were told to follow the star, but they were led by something deep in their souls. They filled the dark, silent streets, searching for the newborn King. She wondered why the whole town was not awake to see the Savior, and she realized that the first glimpse of this precious Gift was meant for them.

She expected to find the Child in a fine inn or a wealthy home, some place suitable for a king. Instead she found a young mother and proud father holding a Child wrapped in rough swaddling cloths. They huddled together in an old stable on the outskirts of town. Deborah knew they had found what they were looking for. The brightest star in the sky shone down on the stable, like a beacon in the night guiding a lost ship safely home. She felt her unborn child move and she rubbed her stomach lovingly. It was then that she realized this young girl’s Child was born to save her children. He was born to save the world, now and for all the generations to come. The weight of that realization brought her to her knees, and she wept with tears of joy.

In the dark of the night, the Light of the World was born and the most humble amongst them became this miracle’s witness.

Go Fund Me for Sarah Hutson and family