The artist always has the masters in his eye.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sorry I Missed Your Message

For some time I've been getting nudges to write poetry again. It's been years. But recently, on retreat, after a session where we were challenged to see our lives as the celebration God does, I sat outside on a picnic table next to the woods and wrote this one. Still a rough draft but here goes:

You have a message for me
One you've been streaming in reams and beams
All of my life.
There is a party in your Voice
But I haven't joined it,
A dance in your Eyes
But I'm out of step with it
Not because I am stubborn
Or proud but because I've been veiled from The Knowing
That there's been a celebration on the earth
For the likeness of me.
Forgive me Lord for the limp that makes me stumble over myself
And the ones I most love
And those I could lead.
Forgive me for clinging so long to the me that wears people out,
Cuts them off, writes them off.
Well I know you do forgive
And have forgiven
And will
But I must say it to somehow make it so
And keep saying it.
Forgive me for not knowing me
The one you fashioned with painstaking care
Bound in love
The truest best me
That like a flare shot skyward in the night
Hangs bright, bold, gleaming.

Monday, August 30, 2010

On Art Attempts to Imitate LIfe

Some nights

I plop in a chair

grab the fine point Sharpies

and doodle away on a crazy, colorful graphic.

I love this kind of art.

It’s fun, easy, requires no brainpower.

Whatever happens happens.

And when I’m done people say,

“ That’s cool. What is it?”

Here’s something I had fun with last night

And then there are other times-

not as often as I’d like-

when I go to the trouble to set up my paints & canvas and


representational art.

It’s what most people like.

When you’re done they say,

“ Nice tree. What made you paint that one?”

Call me skitzo—

but I’m drawn to both

The kid in me likes unstructured play

while the adult in me

likes trying to capture a scene with my own two hands.

Where does this desire to copy come from?

Maybe it’s as simple as a craving to recreate

or to experience the beauty in a deeper way.

Maybe it’s the challenge of it

or something about the composition of the elements.

Here’s some of my recent “adult” work.

Not long ago I passed this tree on a walk in my neighborhood.

It was behind a high wall but the smooth, flaky crust-like bark grabbed my attention.

I stood looking up at it for a long time wondering if I could do it justice.

Then I clicked photos on my phone and put it in a file I have called

“ potential painting subjects.”

Earlier this summer

I picked up this leaf

when we were walking on a railroad track in Georgia.

It had dropped from a tree and was already changing colors.

Almost looked like a croton. I liked the challenge of the detail.

And painted it as soon as we got in from our walk.

Found this funky piece of wood on that same hike

and laid it next to the finished painting to see how it'd look.

This next one is a patch of water -weeds

I took a photo when David and I were kayaking on the Wekiva River.

They were in a giant tight mass in the water.

I’m sure they have an official name-dollar wart or something.

They're everywhere in Florida.

Not as pretty when they mess with your yard.

For this I used cheapo 8x10 canvas.

Took maybe 4 hours or so.

For a first pass, I like how it turned out.

Making this kind of


reminds me of all my attempts to honestly, accurately

capture the image of Jesus

in my own life,

to represent Him well.

I hope to make a life that reflects a reasonable likeness—

where the viewer says,

“ Oh, I see. Jesus right?”

That's my desire. By all accounts I’m far from mastery.


grateful the Teacher doesn't chastise my sketchy imitations

but patiently, continually, lovingly encourages…

Keep practicing, Caron.

More light, more contrast, more depth, more truth.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

If They Only Knew

See this truly innocent, frightfully young, love-blinded couple?

It’s Friday night, August 22nd 1975

and they have no clue.

Well they have an idea, but that’s about it. The idea they have is that their meeting, which led to these holy vows, is all part of a giant conspiracy and that somehow they are destined for something but at the moment- exactly what- is beyond their capacity to grasp…

They hope they might do some good in the world for God.

It may be a long shot.

These are strong-willed- slightly rebellious types-

Jesus People to the core.

He is a partially reformed hippie.

She is good girl from a dysfunctional family.

They are both firstborns.

They’ve known each other one year. He popped the question-suddenly- New Years Eve - week 8 of their relationship. They were eating a steak dinner at the picnic table on the back porch of her parent’s house. He had no ring. Had not come planning to ask. But with his steak half eaten, he’s overcome and bursts out, “I’m sorry. I just gotta ask…Will you marry me?!”

She laughs.

On the first date she knew.

They’re students with part time jobs. They’ve scraped together 900.00 for dresses, tuxes, invitations, flowers, rings, photography. What the photos don’t show: the Church Ladies have made the bride’s dress and the essentials for the simple, old fashioned, Southern, stand up, Fellowship Hall reception- cake, punch, egg salad sandwiches and all. They are Baptist-so no DJ -but there is a nice pianist in the corner playing something considered appropriate.

It’s no frills.
The bride thinks yellow is a happy color and maybe people won’t notice the miniature floral arrangements if she chooses loud yellow fabric with giant flowers on it for the girls. Hats are in for weddings this year.

He’s wearing gray because black is what everyone will expect him to wear.

They’ve written and recorded song based on a Psalm.
It’s playing over the sound system as they kneel.
He’s on the piano. She sings.
It won’t be a hit-- but it’s them.

In the months leading up to this they’ve interviewed mature, Christ-following couples in their church with solid, happy marriages. They take notes. They say up front divorce will never be an option. They have promised never to use the word -even jokingly. It’s the long haul or not at all. They read marriage books, study the Bible and pray together out loud. They believe they have what it takes.

They’re going to need it.

They say anyone can tie cans to the back of a car that reads “ Just Married.” They want their getaway to make a statement about the kind of people they are and the life they plan to live. So a helicopter drops out of the sky onto the 13th green of the golf course just across the street.

Here the bride is discovering there are no doors on the helicopter. Another cost cutting measure? Is this a sign?

As they fly into the night they have no idea that next year, along with deep, life long friends, world-class mentors and 4 am discipleship groups, poverty waits. At seminary there will be times they have no food except oranges someone leaves in a bag on their porch or money someone slides under the door.

But they’re eating wedding cake now

In the blink of 2 years they will bring into the world

the first of what will- in 9 years -be three baby boys.

And in hopes of instilling a strong spiritual destiny

they name them after mighty biblical heroes.

Among other things they don’t know tonight

is in 4 years together they’ll be called to a country they’ve never see to plant a church in an school gym with 5 couples they’ve never met. Surrey, British Columbia. As far as the east is from the west. This will turn out to be one of the most defining seasons of their lives- eternally marked by enormous amounts of leadership, faith and steadfastness required to see several hundred people come to Jesus and form what will become Village Hills Baptist Church.

Nor do they know their hearts will shatter when they’re uprooted after 4 yrs there by a crystal clear call to go home. They will sob, grieve and argue with each other for months over this. Yet there’s no denying the Voice. They will leave the people they’ve love like family- pack their 2 pre-schoolers & a two week old in a 1983 Chevette and drive to Orlando.

If they really knew on this day ALL that would be required of them


they might have declined to go.

But they cannot know--

and surrendered they go to ultimately carry the burden and blessing for what will over two decades become thousands of lives before God, hundreds of staff, several facilities –preaching the Good News of Jesus, leading the people of Discovery Church-- in season and out—by the truth of His Word and the power HIs Voice year after year after year.

This joyous night

there’s no comprehension of the trials that will send them to their knees. A newborn’s cancer, financial crisis, friendship implosions, funerals of both their mothers, ministry disasters that become legend

Oh and they will have more than their share of side splitting laughter, unbridled happiness and crazy love –they will comment on the undeserved richness of their lot almost every day.

But there will also be arguments some lasting for days, a few smoldering for weeks.

They ‘re on the same page right now

but she doesn’t know he’ll easily get bored, itching to change things particularly in the church and he doesn’t know she brings to the altar a debilitating fear of such changes that will surface at almost every critical transition he wants to make. He’ll say she’s holding him back, she’ll think he’s hasty, needs more facts.

She will be late…a lot.

He will -at times-speak without thinking, say things in public for shock value

He’s a maverick, a loose canon.

She’s insecure, sensitive.

They’re backgrounds are night and day.

Some wedding guests don’t give them much chance.

But the vows they’re making anchor double deep.

And they will love each other passionately.

And serve God in their generation.

Though clueless about them now, the three sons

born to them will bring the greatest joy

they’ll ever know, the deepest satisfaction and at times the most acute pain.

They will love these boys fiercely, train them faithfully and fail them humanly. But today they’re planning to make the best family possible by the grace of God. What they can’t know now is when it’s all said and done it will indeed be a mighty good one. And in time the boys will have weddings themselves and with great joy and a little trepidation they’ll expand the circle to include their godly wives and then the six remarkable grandkids they will give them.

This young, idealistic couple would laugh and cry

till they ache

if on this night you tell them

one day they will be

married for 35 YEARS (!)

live in two countries, three states, four apartments, one townhouse, six homes – travel to or teach leaders in over 25 countries, write books, he will nearly drown in the Zambezi River, she will lead worship for thousands, he will preach to hundreds of thousands, take off and land on an aircraft carrier , they will own something called personal computers, snow ski, wakeboard, sail, hike in Alaska, be on television, radio and something called the Internet, take movies of their grandkids on something called a cell phone--and literally walk where Jesus walked…


in the

12,701 days they will be one

Jesus Christ -their Lord- the One

they are surrendering this

as yet unknown marriage , family and mission to

will have faithfully carried them all the way

Ah, if only they knew.

How much bigger might they dream?

How much fuller might they trust?

How much deeper might they love?


And now- for the 35th consecutive year

husband of my youth…

oh Captain my Captain…

in the presence of God our Father and these witnesses…

I pledge my heart to you alone….

for as long as we both have to live.

This is a big one.

Happy Anniversary, Honey!

You make my heart sing!

High Five!

The still happy couple, this August 22, 2010
at Discovery Church

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Foot Notes for Real World Travelers

Even though we’re petrified of bears,
snakes, ticks, spiders and wild boar,
had no proper shoes
or a clue what we’d find;
this summer David and I managed to do a lot of
walking around in the woods
of north Georgia

This was all pretty much his idea.

But I was game because I had a plan to trade the required exertion for certain

after-dinner carbs.

Our simple daily plan:

*See map for medium difficult trail

*Top off water bottles

*Spend two or three hours at the mercy of nature

Now on a trail, when you’re not mopping up sweat or

tripping over roots

or looking for the port-a-potty

you have considerable time to think.

And I got to thinking about all the ways hiking is like real life.

1) It helps to have something to lean on.

Awhile back I broke my ankle and ever since it’s not as reliable on uneven terrain. So we found a dead branch with just the right heft and made me a walking stick. I leaned on it in the uphill’s and it steadied me going down. Was like having an optional 3rd leg. It got me where I needed to go with a little added assurance.

In the real world we don't much like asking for help

or leaning on people.

I especially don’t.

But after this experience I’m wondering:

What’s wrong with needing a little help?

Do we really think we get some special award

for making things harder on ourselves than they need to be?

2) You have to stop moving to see where you are.

The trouble with hiking is you spend most of the time looking down. For reasons of self-preservation this is necessary.

However by doing this- you miss considerable scenery-

which, in my opinion, is the


you’re in the woods to begin with.

So every now and then (sometimes to David’s dismay) I stopped hiking.

I mean -are we in a race here? Is someone timing us at the top?

I sat on a log

Took pictures


caught up with my breath

sipped water

surveyed the view

smelled the air, savored the sounds

and all that quiet

Watched light stream through the trees

And then I was ready to go again.

3) There will be bugs.

Even drenched in repellant, we still got bugged on the trail. They sensed our sweat, buzzed our heads and at certain points drove us batty. Funny how they always seem to attack at the hardest, steepest parts when all you can do is put one miserable foot in front of the other. You whine. Swat the air. Yell, exasperated, at these deaf, demonic creatures.

But they do not care.

They have no heart.

They are not moved.

There will always be bugs on the trail.

Get used to it.

4) The weather may change.

Twice it rained on us in the middle of a hike. We were too far from the car to run for cover. Of course we had no ponchos. We could hear it coming from a distance pecking at the leaves-- sounded like water rushing through a stream getting louder and louder.

We didn’t expect it to rain. We got soaked.

Trudged in mud and soggy socks the entire rest of the hike.

But it did cool us off.

5) Forgo the cargo.

Don't ask me why- I love rocks. I have them sitting in bowls and baskets all over my house.

I have rocks from Africa, Israel, Colorado, California, British Columbia, The Virgin Islands, Greece, France, Italy, Turkey… I need a bumper sticker that says


On the trails of north Georgia I hit the mother lode.

But rocks get heavy when you’re hiking.

To keep it doable, at least semi- enjoyable I learned not to pick them up too early or too often. Too many rocks slow you down and wear you out.

I think it’s important you know, I left some really great rocks on those trails.

6) Sometimes it takes longer than you plan

and feels harder than you can stand.

On one of our first hikes we don’t have a map. We just see a sign that says “ This way 4.5 miles” and go for it. Piece of cake.

Joe, Catie and 1yr. old Miles are with us.

We hike up and down and around this mountain for what seems like a really really long time and start to wonder is this trail is ever going to end. The baby gets heavy. Joe’s back hurts. It’s late in the afternoon. Maybe we've taken a wrong turn.

Time and distance get weird in the woods.

So how far do you think we’ve come? Surely we're almost there-

what if some joker switched the sign and we’re really on the 10-mile trail?

It's easy to question a path you've never been on

especially if you’re right in the middle of it.

You have no idea what's over the next hill. You’re hiking blind.

We’d set out for a nice little walk in the woods. Now we’re thinking- rescue helicopters. We should never have come to the woods. The fun drains out when worry sets in. All you can think of is getting to the end where you know it’s safe.

A tad bit anxious we send David ahead to look for the trail end. He likes this. It’s starting to feel like a disaster movie where in a last ditch effort the stranded people draw straws to send one poor soul for help.

But we do have cell phones.

Call us as soon as you see it, we say.

(* you could kiss Steve Jobs at a time like this)

Joe, Catie, Miles and I keep on walking. No one talks. Everyone’s in their head. Once in awhile the mother in me pipes up, “Guys, I’m sure we’re fine. Time just feels different in the woods. I’m sure it’s totally fine.”

20 mins. go by- feels like eons.

Finally. The phone rings.

Yes, folks, you’re on the right trail.

You are not lost.

Just keep walking.