Dust Yourself off and Try Again

My post, today, is the introduction from my book Dust Yourself off and Try Again. It was self-published in 2009. Soon to be re-printed and made available on an international scale. I hope that you enjoy the content.

One of the earliest lessons that we learn in life is to quickly get up again, each time we fall.  When children fall, parents around the world respond very much the same to their babies’ little mishaps: they immediately pick them up from the ground, dust their little knees and set them on their feet again.

In so doing, they are teaching their children that it is okay to fall but definitely not okay to stay on the ground.  They are teaching little babies to quickly overcome their shame, disappointment, hurt and pain and get on with the business of living, learning and growing.

Soon enough, these little ones learn to shake off their own dust and go back to whatever fun- walking, running, jumping, climbing and so on- they were enjoying before the fall.

This, however, is a lesson for life not just for babyhood.  It is a lesson which should take us through every other trial; over every other hurdle that we face.

Life is a series of challenges.  It is inevitable that we fall sometimes.  At times, we try to run too fast, we step too soon or miscalculate a turn.  Whatever the reasons, we all end up on the ground from time to time- figuratively and literally!

In these times, though, what should we do? When we have fallen- in love with the wrong person; fallen prey, to other’s devises; fallen into sin; fallen from grace; fallen victim to sickness and other misfortunes that may or may not be of our own doing?

How do we, as adults, react to failures?  How do deal with the shame, the hurt, the guilt of our downfalls? How do we do that baby stuff: get right back into the joy of living, instead of burying ourselves in the sand- maybe with a little cry and a little encouragement from others but certainly with all the vigor and sense of purpose as before?

In this book we will explore this issue from a biblical standpoint and show God’s take on the matter!

 

Waiting on God to Step in

‘Thought  I’d take some time off from poetry and arbitrary prose, today, to do some preaching, and at the same time introduce a book that I am currently writing. It’s called Waiting on God to Step in and is based on the story of Lazarus.

For those who know the story- recorded in John chapter 11- we know it is the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. However, there are some underlying principles in this account which we need to consider when we try to summon God to intervene on our behalf.

Mary and Martha sent to call Jesus at a time when their brother, Lazarus, was sick. This was no ordinary scenario, though. This was a message stating, “He whom You love is sick” (vs 3) coming from Martha and “that same Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair” (vs 2).

Although that act of worship is recorded following that of Lazarus’ resurrection, it is evident that these siblings shared a special relationship with Christ at the time of their request. John clearly communicates this in saying, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (vs 5). What is perplexing about this account, though, is Jesus’ response to the message He received.

Immediately after expressing Christ’s love for this trio, John writes “SO when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (vs 6). This may rock your concept of Christianity. I, unconsciously, raced ahead in that verse, expecting an ending like …He dropped what He was doing and immediately returned to Bethany (where Lazarus lived).

I, in my belief in God, thought that He would swiftly answer when we call BECAUSE HE LOVES US. Yet, John makes it abundantly clear, that because of His love, Jesus ignored this urgent prayer, only to arrive in Bethany long after Lazarus was dead and buried. If we read the story to the end, though, we would realize that 1. Jesus had a greater miracle in store than the one requested and 2. His delayed response would served as a springboard to meet not only to Lazarus’ need but also that of the multitude gathered at his home.

It would really take an entire book to cover the depth of wisdom and spiritual instruction inherent in this account. But, suffice it, here, to say that sometimes when we do not immediately receive answers to prayer, it is not that God does not love us. But, It is precisely because He does, that He does not respond- at least not when or how we want Him to.

Again, when things seem to be go from bad to worse; when there is nothing left for us to do; when it seems like we have come to a place of total failure and it seems like God has rejected us, that is when God has a greater plan. The unanswered prayer is only an opportunity for God to do something we least expect. His delay is for our good, not defeat. More importantly, God’s entrance would only occur when the time  and circumstances are perfect for the miracle He intends to perform.

Waiting on God in a time of crisis is not an easy thing to do. Praying through the tears and believing while the situation worsens is a test of faith we sometimes fail. But, even when we think that the time for God to step in is past, He still has the final say.

We will not get to know the power of God if every time we call He just comes running.  We would not experience the fullness of His greatness if  our faith is not stretched beyond what we know is possible. We will not see His glory if we do not dare to obey even when it seems like folly to do so.

It is only when Lazarus’ sisters rolled the stone away from their brother’s tomb- four days after their prayers should have been answered- that they received their miracle. When they called on Jesus, they were asking for a miracle. When Lazarus died, however, they thought that their miracle  had been denied. So, for them to obey Christ’s command when “by this time he stinketh” (vs 39) required a different level of faith than what they initially used to call on Him.

God allows us to grow in Him because He loves us. He causes us to transcend beyond our “little faith” and small blessings because of His love. He takes us through extreme circumstances so that we can experience His extraordinary glory- all because He loves us!

So, despite the tears; despite the pain; despite the fears that we may endure while we wait on God, let us note that He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6). We can rest assured of His love for us even when it seems like He does not care.

 

Ode to Winter Merriment

Although darkened days of cold December

cast adumbrations over yesterday’s

dreams and iron curtains deafen replays

of old fantasies I faint remember,

 

yet, golden years and winter’s solitude

deprive me not the music of my soul

nor languish hope, embracing dark Sheol

with tumultuous jeremiad prelude.

 

For ominous thrills and great delights; new

accomplishments and adventures pending

fill the bucket list that I am sending

to make winter’s illustrious dreams come through.

Fenced!

I passed by and saw a mango tree once laden, with all its ripened fruit littered on the floor beneath. And I thought, What a waste! But, then, I think of me- a self-professed introvert- and say, You better open those gates!

Laden   laden branch

waiting for birds to sing;

for eager children

to come pelting;

waiting for

the market crates

and baskets

to bringbasket of fruit

the pleasure I give;

waiting for

jam bottles and jellies;

yearning, empty bellies

to rejoice.

jamspecial_jam_for_dessert_mango_jam_for

Yet, here I am

wasted;

returning

to the earth

from which I came.

Untouched,rotting

untasted;

wasted

on grounds

surrounded;

fenced in,

protected;

walledgated

in a private place;

introverted

in space

no one can reach!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Think Twice!

Today, I followed a sentence prompt to write a story:

I knew just from the wild look in her eyes that she had made her decision, and that things would never be the same.

“I won’t be here on Sunday,” she replied. I had suggested that we go to church. I thought that only prayer could change this situation.

But, I had seen that wild look before. I saw it every time she thought she knew what was best for her life. Every time she used her teenage brain to make some life-changing decision. Every time she felt wronged, misunderstood, or afraid!

Today, her eyes flashed bold defiance. And I realized that she had made her choice. Without knowing it, she had opted to have her heart broken. Her knight in shining armor had returned.

She was holding on to straws, I knew. But, who could change her mind? She was “Daddy’s little girl”- just what every fifteen year old daughter needed to hear. I had not given her the facts; had spared her the sad details. But, now, the fallacies he’d provided to fill in the blanks seemed plausible to her.

“Don’t go,” I pleaded, not because I needed her to stay. Nor, even because I wanted her all to myself. But I, too, had believed his fantasies. I’d been the victim of his over-active imagination and unchecked mind. I, too, had been swept off my feet by his lies.

She packed her bags while Celine Dion bellowed on the CD player: Don’t say what you’re going to say. Look back before you leave my life. Be sure before you close that door. Before you roll those dice, Baby think twice!

I was hoping that she’d listen. Without another glance she walked past me. I waited for the pain to crush my soul. But, numbness formed a welcome barricade. I thought of times he’d taken her for a weekend or days when she was a child; how much I felt we both needed a shrink on each returned; how relieved I was when he’d migrated. Now, in less than one month after his return, he had erased all the work I’d done in ten years.

“I can’t fix it this time,” I cried. “I won’t be able to hold her in my arms and kiss the pain away!”

I protected my own soul. Prepared for the barrage of emotions that would soon come crashing down. A week later, much to my expectation, he brought her back.

“I have to go,” he said to me. “I have a plane to catch!”

In my office she waited for his return. She had come “to spend some time” with me, he’d said to her. Lunchtime turned to evening and my work ended. I avoided her gaze. She still believed in Santa Claus and thought that Cinderella’s glass slippers and pumpkin carriage were real.

I packed my bag. She had not come with hers. The wild look temporarily returned. Like a cornered animal she made a sudden dash. I guessed reality was setting in: she was going home with me.  In my periphery, I saw the tears begin to roll.

Things would never be the same again! I thought.

Oh Phooey!

An excerpt from To Kryss with Love– a collection of short stories written  for my daughter.

A friend told me of a dream she had in which she visited the home of a prominent woman, one day.  In this woman’s yard stood a beautiful, well-groomed mango tree laden with fruit.

Eager to get her hands on a juicy mango, my friend approached the tree, only to find that it was bearing cabbages- huge, misshapen, ill-placed cabbages!

Oh, how terribly disappointing! She thought.  “Why is this beautiful plant flourishing with the wrong fruit?”

I’ve asked myself that very question so many times as I’ve watched you grow.  Your outer beauty seems only to belie the expressions of your heart.

Sometimes when we find ourselves as the lonesome mango in the cabbage patch, we find it hard to stand alone and be ourselves.

In an effort to fit in with everyone else around, we begin to take on a nature not our own.  We begin to lose sight of who we really are and become confused.

We may think that the problem is the cabbage patch; that we would better thrive in the forest among the trees; that it is by association we become who we’re really meant to be.

But the answer is not in our planting but in our genes.  Our true nature is written in our Being.  Therefore, no matter where we’re planted or with whom we grow, the true expression of ourselves can only come from within.

So take some time, my dear, to stand aloof.  Examine the aura you exude.  Understand the markings of your heart that define for you, your destiny.

Then, be prepared to be unique.  If you’re the only lark among the hawks, then sing like a lark without a care.  And if you’re the only flower of fragrance rare, then smell like no other fragrance can compare.

And when you find yourself lonely where none seems a lot like you, still be true to yourself.  For it is only in bringing forth your own originals, that you fulfill purpose.  It is only in depicting expressions of the heart that you say who you are and command respect.

It is only in searching the recesses of your soul that you discover Self and gain the power to impact the world around you with a beauty all your own.

Only in this you’ll find fulfillment.  Only then, will you be truly blessed.  It is only when you can look inside and find worth in who you are; when you’re content with whom you’re created to be and determined to flaunt no other meaning than what your code entails, that you find happiness.  And prosperity!  And wealth! And peace!

 

 

Costly Mistakes

An excerpt from To Kryss with Love– a collection of short stories written seven years ago for my, then, teenage daughter .

When I was much younger and just learning to sew, I found that I liked to stitch but not to base.  I liked to put pieces together but not to rip.  I was quick to make but not to mend.

But in my haste, I created many faulty fits.  With nicks and notches and crooked paths I, many times, corrupted the masterpiece I had in mind.

Sometimes, I turned faults into fashion and covered mistakes with skilful art.  But at times I helplessly tossed aside the cuts that no amount of knack could fix.

Now that I am older and wiser than I used to be, and far less hurry to complete a task, I take the time to plan the steps of every work.

And if by chance, I go off-course, I linger at the point I erred and undo every tiny flaw until at last I’m satisfied with the labor of my hands.

You see, my dear, there are some mistakes that once they’re made, they can’t ever be reversed.  These are the ones we must avoid at any cost.  For life does not always give a second chance to do right what we wronged before.

And even those mistakes which we try so hard to hide, although we may conceal them from the public’s eyes, they’ll still be mistakes- only well disguised.

So, Honey, think before you act!  Plan a course of action for your life.  Make straight paths for your feet.  Decide on what it is you wish to accomplish and what steps are necessary for you to succeed.

Then work towards your goal.  Follow the guidelines left by those who’ve walked that road before.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  And above all, do not be too proud to admit when you have failed. Or, too busy to take the time to correct your faults!