A Tiny Little Cabin and a Lot of Thinking

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By: Jana Greene

I love camping.

And by ‘camping,’ I mean staying in an air-conditioned cabin in the woods that has gas logs in the fireplace, and a hot tub on the back porch that faces a little creek.

It is My Beloved and I’s 10th wedding anniversary, so we decided to retreat to one of our favorite places in the world – a tiny little cabin in the woods with lots of creature comforts.

There are creature comforts at home, of course. We also have a ton of standard-fare life issues at home. We all do. We have bills, home and car repairs, kids, grandkids, doctor appointments, three high maintenance cats, and routines.

Routines can harken comfort. They can also become a distraction.

This week with my husband is a re-boot from all the distraction. We can be us, and focus on who we are to each other. We can be reminded that not everything is falling, as so often seems the case these days.

The new normal seems to be trying to keep up with the new normal. Things change and morph and so do we.

In these North Carolina mountains, Autumn is amping up before our eyes. I swear the leaves have gone plum technicolor in the mere two days we have been here so far. It’s exciting to watch the reds and yellows. The purples and oranges. It looks like the whole world is on fire with vibrancy, getting ready for the big crescendo! But even as the trees explode in living color, other leaves are falling, littering the wet ground with dull, brown peat.

It has to happen when winter comes. The trees must become bare, lest there be no spring buds gestating in the seemingly frozen branches. Things must fall so that things can spring up anew. And things must spring up anew so that the trees can be full again and, in turn, become technicolor with the reds and yellows, the purples and oranges.

What could have me feeling so cornball about this crazy life, and waxing poetic about autumn leaves?

Nature. Nature does it to me every time.

For a girl who loves her a/c and hot tubs, I do so adore nature.

My beloved and I needed badly to get away to the smoky, rolling hills of North Carolina and reflect on the best – and most challenging – 10 years of our lives. There were times when we weren’t sure we’d come out alive – blending a family of three teenage girls, dealing with debilitating health issues, living out “for richer or for poorer.”

But we come out alive and even manage to thrive, because the same Creator who orchestrates the seasons also orchestrates our marriage. We insisted that He did so, right out of the gate.

So, I’m writing this blog post from a little cabin in the woods. There are still issues waiting for us when we go back home, but right now, the gas logs in the fireplace are roaring, I am sipping sparkly apple cider, and My Beloved sits next to me leisurely reading a James Patterson novel. We are an old married couple now.

I LOVE it.

I love disconnecting from the routines, even if for a few days.

I love this man whom with I am celebrating ten years of wedded bliss. I love that we are so predictable that we finish each other’s sentences.

Nature reminds me that everything about God’s creation has a purpose and an inevitable rebirth. Nature has a way of  refreshing the weary spirit.

It reminds me why people name their children after flowers.

As I listen to the ripple of the creek down below, I am reminded why there are hymns written about deer panting after water.

It reminds me that paying bills can be usurped by paying attention to the glory of an Autumn forest.

It reminds me that earth has a smell and that leaf litter is preferable to kitty litter.

It reminds me that the drudgery of life can be put in its proper place with a strategic plan for a second honeymoon away from it all.

It reminds me that things fall, but there is purpose in the falling.

And as my husband absently reaches for my hand as we sit on the front porch swing together saying nothing but communicating everything, I’m so grateful.

God bless us, every one.

 

 

Filling in the Cracks with Trust

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As I wrestle with many changes in this time, I’ve been posting pieces to invite you along the journey. The good, the bad, the ugly. All of it.  I believe the late, great George Carlin refereed to such drivel as ‘brain droppings,’ and as crude as it sounds, that is a pretty accurate assessment of the life and work of a blogger in cyberspace. So follow the trail, and maybe we will learn from each other along the way. I strongly invite you to leave comments and / or share your personal experiences, as you feel comfortable. And as always, thank you for your readership. ❤

By: Jana Greene

“How do you love an invisible God?”

The question hung in the air at the Celebrate Recovery meeting I was leading in 2012. A woman who was struggling to stay clean from the soul-sucking heroin asked me after the meeting (or, as we say in the Rooms, ‘the meeting after the meeting.’)

It was a very good question; and one so primal, it threw me. God was an old friend of mine. I thought I had spiritually evolved past that question. But in times of deep duress, I’ve found it to be a legitimate inquisition.

The answer I’ve found? You love each other. Any place there is love, be it by squeaky-clean Christian or ‘heathen’ who has never uttered the name of the Lord, there is God.

There you go. That’s how you get to know and love the ‘invisible’ God. TA DA!

It’s just that easy! Except for sometimes, it isn’t. Shifting all of our focus onto worry, can make him seem less visible; less tangible.

And like any relationship, the more time you spend seeking the face of God, the more intimate the relationship becomes – and the more full his reality reveals itself.

I used to think that the only love that counted for Team God was that fostered under the umbrella of a corporate, official, Jesus-brand ministry with a Bible to beat people up with (or worse, cause call to shun them) and a Federal tax ID number.

But that simply isn’t so.

It’s hard to dis-believe in someone you know personally, so that is not my struggle so much these days.

But I do have other struggles, and maybe you do too. Maybe you are worried about your future as well. Maybe every decision you make feels like filling out a voting card that is missing several candidate choices.

So today’s post is about TRUST.

Is God in charge of the future, or are we just scraping by like the children in Lord of the Flies, trying to carve out survival while our God watches the wretched, gladiator-style event?

Because I cannot believe he is love, and believe he created us to watch us implode.

It’s easier to love an invisible God, whose love physically manifests in nature and through his people, than it is to make peace with the unknown. And right now – above all else – my struggle is with having no idea what is coming next. Which, of course, is a struggle with TRUSTING God.

So, I’ve been a Christian most of my life, yet still – in times like these – wrangle with trusting him when every shred of physical evidence points to certain doom.

He is not the god of Certain Doom. He is the God of orchestration, working behind the scenes to arrange things for our own good. I’ve seen it play out 1,000 times. Why do I still struggle with trusting completely in uncertain seasons of life?

There is grace for the blessed seasons – written clearly to us and in bold font, and in Sharpie. We see it. It spills off the page and stains our fingers so that we can rub it off on an unbelieving world.

But there is also grace for seasons of struggle – in seemingly invisible ink. Even when we hold it up to the light, we cannot see it written. We cannot decipher it even when we do get a glimpse. It reveals itself in due time, but while we wait, we are flummoxed.

As the Apostle Paul wrote, “I believe. Help me in my unbelief,” I implore: “I trust you, God. Help me in my distrust.

And God bless us, every single one.

God, help me to keep seeking your face. Thank you for your endless mercy, spilled off the page and into my heart. Thank you for making your love so easy to find. Lord, my fears are primal, and I cannot face them without trusting you. Hook a sister up with an extra measure of faith. And God? Thanks in advance.