At Ease

Today I found myself laughing. You know that throw your head back kind of laugh that issues forth from deep within. I think it might have been a prayer. Or it might have been sheer relief. I don’t know. I just know that in the last eighteen hours I have had conversations with three amazing young women that I so admire. Each has a need. A BIG need in some cases. And this morning I stood in my kitchen and laughter flowed from my belly. It just came like the postal worker comes every day and parks in front of my house. I don’t invite him. He just comes.

But let me back up and say first, I am writing this blog because when I finally sat down to eat my breakfast this morning at almost lunchtime it came to me that I am so blessed to be A MOM, A MENTOR, AND A FRIEND.

You heard it! God has blessed my life. I am many things, but perhaps most importantly I am those three things–a mom, a mentor, and a friend. Yes, I am a wife–and a friend to my precious husband. We are one. He is an extension of me, as I am of him. And in my role I touch my world as a mom, a mentor, and a friend.

So why kitchen laughter?

Because I can’t fix anything! The needs are too big for me to fix. The ingredients for the fix aren’t in the house! I can listen. I can be two ears and lovingly pull out a dear one’s deep need, but I can’t fix it.

But then I can laugh! I can laugh because these needs are so big and I can’t fix them. I can laugh because right there in my kitchen I just passed these very big needs along to my heavenly Father transported with a belly laugh. He has wide shoulders and owns everything anyway. They are His to fix. He can shift some resources around so easily. I couldn’t stop laughing! I think He was delighted with the mode of delivery!

This morning I gave the cares of three precious young women to Jesus. Rolled them right off my shoulders and onto His. And I laughed–a deep belly laugh, because when He shifts the resources and opens the door of possibility — He gets all the glory! I don’t get any. I don’t want any. I am just content knowing it’s His problem and He’s good with it!

SONY DSC

After all, God is at ease! Did you know that? A few weeks ago, I did a little word study on the word good–and guess what? One of the ways good as in “God is good” is translated from the Hebrew is at ease.

Laughter! God is at ease about these big problems. Imagine that! You wouldn’t want an uptight God would you? That wouldn’t be very comforting! Well I think I’m going to be like God and be at ease, too. After all, He is the Creator and I am made in his image. If He can be at ease, I can, too.

How about you? Can you be like God? Can you be at ease?

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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Dazzled by the Glory

Several times a day I pass across the stone patio on my way between street and front door. Sometimes I am aware of the beauty that surrounds me in the bobbing heads of blossoms. Other times I don’t even notice the gentle sway of fairy wands responding to the breezes upswept off Puget Sound. I am too busy so the catch phrase goes and everything washes out of focus balancing on the periphery of my next agenda item.

Grass and flower

Yesterday, I grabbed my camera after reading an article by Darlene Hildebrandt on blurring depth of field in backgrounds by using a standard kit telephoto lens.  I reached for my kit lens, Sony 55-200mm, which I rarely use, mounted it on the camera body, set my f-stop for 5.6 and ventured out my front door to see what I could see. There might not be any people willing to have their portrait made, but I knew there were flowers close at hand always ready for a portrait. Now to slow down and focus.

Blurred anemone

Funny how holding a camera slows one down to discover a bee in mid air.

bee in mid-flight

And then I turned my lens on the Japanese anemones chaotic in their ruthless advance across my postage stamp sized garden caught in the mix between sun and shade. Some blossoms, wide open, held their little heads high, while others, round globes of promise, waited their turn.

anemone 2

My heart danced until I noticed the pathos of the one gathering its own fallen stamen.

anemone 3

For the next several hours I either teetered on the stone wall peering down at these colorful dancers on stems or I crouched down from the patio below and aimed upwards. When forced to step back inside and prepare dinner, I had 588 images on my card and a bit of a kink in my neck! All but the first few images are from that extravaganza of largely unnoticed pirouetting color just steps beyond my front door.

I discovered the black-eyed Susan’s about three meters beyond made a great backdrop for anemone portraiture.Anemone 1

After dinner I sat down with Lightroom 5 to do some post processing of my favorites. A couple hours later, eyes bleary with focusing, I stood up to retire for the night. My heart fluttered with the glory of God I beheld in the majestic dance of Japanese anemone. I had succeeded in blurring the background, but more than that I had experienced a visual worship experience. I had indeed seen the glory of God right out my front door. I was reminded that what we see here on earth is but the delicate fringe of his excellent majesty.

anemone 4

In looking at this next image I thought of the words penned by St. Paul. “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible….He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16,17.

anemone 5

I could have spent more hours in my garden Cathedral yesterday, but the sun dipped and duty called.

This morning I have renewed determination not to allow hurry and inattention to blur God’s whisper through creation. This is my quest.

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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Life is Like Daisies

This year on my self-taught photographic journey, summer flowers beg portraiture. In photographing them, I am learning that flowers are not like high school seniors or brides coming for a formal setting. Brides and seniors wash up first and remember to apply some mascara. Not flowers. They come just as they are. With the naked eye, they look fine. Under the macro lens, not so pristine. Often the photographer must do a little dusting and gardening to get the perfect shot. Take a field of daisies for instance. From a distance they are a blur of white, lovely, pure, and embracing.

 

Group daisy hug 1

 

Everything looks perfect. What a supportive community to join! What a handsome fellow to fall in love with! With a great church! The honeymoon is on and the whole scene glistens like the sun breaking through after a soggy week in Seattle.

 

Group daisy hug 2

 

Oh sure, there’s a little pollen on the white petals, but not to worry. I’m sure this is a marriage made in heaven. This roommate situation is just perfect. I’ll try this church hopeful it won’t disappoint me like the last half dozen. The vows are exchanged; the roommate moves in; the church pledge has been sealed and then the scene changes.

 

Group daisy hug 3

 

What? I didn’t realize things could get this messy. He’s getting his pollen all over me! There are notches in her perfect petals where bugs have chewed. I didn’t know the politics in this organization could be so ugly! Doing life in community is like a daisy hug–not what it seems from afar, but worth the effort. Remember that together a clump of daisies makes quite an impact. You just have to get the right perspective.

 

Group daisy hug 4

Marlee Huber ~ For YOUR FLOURISHING LIFE!

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Color Master

Last night the love of my life brought home yellow roses. The first roses he ever sent were yellow. I was in heaven. We exchanged vows amidst the bicentennial hoopla of 1976!

Today I do the math and check the calendar. On the 17th I will have completed 38 rich years with this gentleman who still remembers to bring roses, carry my tripod, and traipse after me on whatever scheme I am currently pursuing. I have said for years that I put the color into his life while he hangs onto my balloon strings lest I float away.

He is my rock! I adore him! Thank you, sweet Clark, for bringing your steadiness into my world. You walk a straight line while I wander. You eat the same things every morning for breakfast while I am always on a new kick. You balance the checkbook and all that other math-y stuff while I repurpose rooms in brand new ways. You surprise me still. You comment on the world with such surprising twists, I never cease to laugh. You bring sparkle! You fill my reservoir with wonder! You are a color master in your own engineeringly way. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love you!

Thank you for coloring my world with SUNSHINE! XOXOanniversary roses

Marlee Huber ~ For YOUR FLOURISHING LIFE!

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No Camera Required

You really ought to get out of the city and spend an Independence Day in a tiny hamlet somewhere on the backside of America. The fireworks still pop, sizzle, bang and blow in such a provincial setting while the crowds are much less of a hassle. In fact, we drove right into the heart of Glacier, Washington and parked our truck. With a clear view of the pyrotechnic launch site, our guests remained in the backseat of the truck enjoying front-row seats.

The engineer and I wandered up much closer, so close in fact that I set up my tripod on the back porch of the container that serves as an office outpost for a luxury vacation getaway design company. Only two or three children ever got much closer to the yellow danger tape that separated the clusters of locals and their guests from the launch site. With my wide-angle lens, I directed the camera straight up recording image after image. No long lens required.

I posted many images to my social media site, but missed posting this one–a real favorite.

green fireworks

When I went to post it, I started thinking about my encounter with the tipsy young man with the untrimmed beard who apprehended me near our truck. Hollow eyes peered from beneath a dark hood-y. His beard looked gray, tired and scruffy like that of an old time-y mountain man. I studied his fine aristocratic nose outlined in the glow of the distant streetlight. I wanted to reach for my camera and make a portrait of him right there. I knew the eye of the viewer would be riveted to this visage. Somewhere behind those empty eyes a story festered. Instead he carved the image into my memory. Drunk he was, but something in his manner begged an interview. I know Holy Spirit timed this encounter.

He told me that he lives in a tent not a quarter of a mile from where we stood in the heart of Glacier. He’d been there all winter. He came to snowboard. Let me define that–he lives to snowboard. The previous winter he spent in Tahoe. Why was he here? “It’s the best place,” he told me.

Donning my life coach hat, I queried him with questions. Did he know who he was? Did he know God had a unique destiny for him? Did he know God made him for a unique contribution to mankind?

He starred at me blankly answering once, “If God has a destiny for me, why doesn’t he tell me?” and “I thought my mom and dad made me.”

When I asked, “Where are you from?” he answered, “Cape Cod. Do you know where that is?” I responded that I did and asked if he knew the Kennedy’s. He said he liked Teddy Kennedy. I got the idea he didn’t live far from the Kennedy compound and probably rubbed shoulders with Kennedy’s at the local ice creamery. Most definitely, he is some little rich kid misplaced in the country-club shuffle of the comfortably rich or upwardly mobile.

As a mom, I couldn’t help wondering if his parents know where his whereabouts. I tried to ask, but some chatty girl came along and invited him to go to Chair 9, the local bar and pizza establishment. He wandered away. The last thing he needs is more alcohol.

Pressed like glacier into my memory, his image stands its ground before my eyes even now. I find myself whispering a prayer for him. Next time I am in town, I’ll inquire about him. I wonder if I will encounter him again? Will I have another chance to pull purpose from his heart? I breathe another prayer as the hollow eyes again appeal for hope.

I wonder if through this post and six levels of separation someone will identify her son and utter a sigh of relief laced with hope? I wonder…

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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Flying to Paradise, I Stopped at the Goodwill

For the last couple days I have been thinking about making another visit to the Goodwill Outlet, commonly called The Bins.

If you unfamiliar with the bins–these are the last stop outlet stores operated by Goodwill–where old stuff is fought over, believe it or not! You should see the races at the bins! And the referees!!! And hear the instructions over the PA system.

But that is not what I am writing about today. It’s the serendipitous finds that entice me to The Bins. 

Why? Some of my best-loved soul sisters and brothers have been discovered through the Goodwill.

For example, just before a trip to Hawaii in 2011, I dropped by The Bins in search of a couple books I could read and toss. I waited until the adrenaline rush of grabbing hands ceased and reflectively stepped up to the big blue bins filled to the brim with a cacophony of cast off volumes. Surprise! Surprise! I was not disappointed.

Flying to paradise, I immersed myself in Traveling Light:  A Photographer’s Journey, by Deborah DeWit Marchant. Her photos changed everything about how I see through the lens of my camera. I came home from Hawaii and found an online photography course. I moved my DSLR off auto. I learned to comprehend f/stops. I still  get lost in Marchant’s ethereal photographs. She changed my vision! She helped me see whispering light rather than shouting scenes.

whispering trees

 

Another time, I discovered Creating with Paper:  Basic Forms and Variations, by Pauline Johnson. Tucked within the pages of this book is a pattern I had been seeking since fourth grade when we had folded red construction paper into many-sided polyhedrons to decorate our classroom Christmas tree. I guess that dates me! This Christmas at our cabin, we sat around the table leisurely making many-sided polyhedrons and hanging them from the beams.

polyhedron

Sometimes I take it up a notch and go to the real Goodwill where I shop the shelves. I discovered The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination, by Esther de Waal. This journey back in time impacted how I viewed our bicycle trip across America in 2012. Read about that at summersabbath.wordpress.com

Sometimes a Goodwill find leads me to more intentional discoveries beyond the resale store. Esther de Waal introduced me to Thomas Merton when she mentioned that he saw the world through “rinsed eyes.” For A Seven Day Journey with Thomas Merton, By Esther de Waal, I had to shop Amazon. Interestingly, the copy that arrived bore a Goodwill Books sticker as well as a Powell’s Bookstore Sticker. My next Merton book required me to move up the economic ladder and purchase a fresh Kindle copy! Merton has prompted meditative walks with cell phone camera in hand as my “instrument of contemplation” and it all started one day at the Goodwill. Or did it? From where I stand today on my artistic journey, I’m inclined to believe these finds were waiting for me to guide my steps into the way of solitude. More about that later. Actually that is where this is going in future posts.

PUDDLE

One of my most recent finds pulled from The Bins is The Voice, the 2011 translation of the NT. I am mesmerized by its artistic and very contemporary screen play format. John 1 caught my attention right off.

“Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.

The Voice was and is God. This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator; His speech shaped the entire cosmos. Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him…”

Why do I share these finds? God is speaking all the time and often He speaks to me from my finds at the local Goodwill Stores. I sense I am on an artistic and contemplative journey.

Books like these help slow me down. I can learn from others who lived in times when solitude was more readily available. Today I know we must intentionally seek the quiet and invite authors from quieter times to speak into our lives the truth that brings transformation.

Marchant has. de Waal has. Merton has. St. John has. I am a better person for being mentored by these thoughtful and contemplative individuals.

Who are the authors who have impacted your life? Consider a trip through your local Goodwill. You may find gold on those shelves or in those bins. You may count these books as some of your dearest confidantes. Listen! God is speaking! Sometimes it doesn’t come in your quiet time, but through your ramble through a bin of discarded books.

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Some of my favorite books have called to me from the noisy din of The Goodwill Store. The Celtic Way of Prayer: the Recovery of the Religious Imagination by Esther de Waal is one of those gems read and reread, underlined and thoroughly marked up, and never too far from reach.

It seems fitting on St. Paddy’s Day to pull a prayer from this volume which is a modern translation of “The Deer’s Cry” said to be written in the 8th century but attributed to St. Patrick. Called to face the high-king, St. Patrick set out on his journey chanting prayers for protection. When the high-king laid ambush all he found was a group of deer with a fawn following them, hence the colloquial name.

deer_

There is another name for this prayer, St. Patrick’s Breastplate, or lorica, which is an ancient form of prayer for protection. Not a bad thing to pray in our crazy, mixed-up, world of 2014 where an airplane full of innocent travelers has just disappeared off the planet and a country has voted to reunite in a forced election where troupes stand poised to violate their borders.

For my shield this day 
The Holy Trinity!
Affirming threeness, Confessing oneness,
In the making of all 
Through love…

For my shield this day I call:
Christ’s power in this coming
and in his baptizing,
Christ’s power in his dying
On the cross, his arising
from the tomb, his ascending;
Christ’s power in his coming
for judgment and ending.

For my shield this day I call:
strong power of the seraphim,
with angels obeying,
and archangels attending,
in the glorious company
of the holy and risen ones,
in the prayers of the fathers,
in visions prophetic
and commands apostolic,
in annals of witness,
in virginal innocence,
to the deeds of steadfast men.

For my shield this day I call”
Heaven’s might,
Moon’s whiteness,
Fire’s glory,
Lightning’s swiftness,

Wind’s wildnes,s
Ocean’s depth,
Earth’s solidity,

Rock’s immobility.

This day I call to me;
God’s strength to direct me,
God’s power to sustain me.
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s vision to light me,
God’s ear to my hearing,
God’s word to my speaking,
God’s hand to uphold me,
God’s pathway before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s legions to save me:
from snares of the demons,
from evil enticements,
from failings of nature,
from one man or many
that seek to destroy me,
anear or afar.

Be Christ this day my strong protector:
against poison and burning
against drowning and wounding,
though reward wide and plenty . . .
Christ beside me, Christ before me;
Christ behind me, Christ within me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
Christ to right of me, Christ to left of me;
Christ in my lying, my siting, my rising;
Christ in heart of all who know me,
Christ on tongue of all who meet me,
Christ in eye of all who see me,
Christ in ear of all who hear me.

For my shield this day I call:
a mighty power;
the Holy Trinity!
affirming threeness,
confessing oneness
in the making of all–through love . . .

For to the Lord belongs salvation,
and to the Lord belongs salvation
and to Christ belongs salvation.

May your salvation, Lord, be
with us always. . .

May you walk shielded in the breastplate of righteousness today.

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

This translation is by Neil Dermott O’Donoghue, “St. Patrick’s Breastplate,” in James P. Mackey (ed.), An Introduction to Celtic Christianity (T & T Clark, 1989), pp. 45-64.

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