Did you ever lay on your back in a field on a perfectly clear moonless night and cling to the grass because, surrounded by stars, you felt you might fall off the earth and float away into space?

Did you ever stand on the top of a mountain peak so high that you thought you could reach out and touch the clouds?

Did you ever stroll along a trackless shoreline so beautiful that you felt you were walking on air?

Sometimes more than gravity weighs me down, but there is a wonder in nature that lifts me up and pulls me away.  

Even with Newton attaching scientific "gravitas" to the mystery of it all, I marvel that I am not centripically flung out into space! 

Occasionally, I picture myself standing sideways, feet attached to this planet, and I ask, "What keeps me here on this earth?(paraphrased:  "Why am I here?")

Spinning at more than 1,000 miles per hour and racing around the sun at nearly 70,000 miles per hour, I'm dizzy with questions beyond this material realm of Earth, Water, Sky; Solid, Liquid, Gas?

used with permission
I'm aware of the life-sustaining significance of our sphere's 23 degree tilt in relation to the sun, but when I spin a globe and imagine myself standing on its surface, I find myself contemplating how this planet is alined within the vast universe.  Is there even a right-side-up, a top or bottom from where God sits?

I'm a speck on a rock on the edge of a tiny galaxy somewhere in this incomprehensibly large universe. 

It is when I imagine spinning in reference to the universe that I loose a bit of my "self-centered" bent and have a more accurate alinement with reality.

I live here, on earth...  in a physical world of laundry and dishes, mealtimes and bedtimes.  Too often I set aside the thrilling pursuit of science and philosophy to get on with the business of living only to find that real living is keeping the wonder and the learning in the everyday.   

Ptolemy's theory bumped the world off center, but Copernicus turned the world up-side-down with the notion that we are not the center of the universe!

We stack our "sense" on the two cents of those who came before us, but the more we know the smaller the wise become in their own eyes. 

Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, the thoughts of scientific genius are common knowledge even to average country folk like me, and I wonder how little do we really know?

More philosopher than scientist, I see knowledge as a tool to assist me in my higher pursuit of wisdom; still I remember:  "Human wisdom is so tiny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God."  1 Cor. 1:25 (The Message)

It is when I am thinking higher thoughts of God and am asking Him the deeper questions that I understand my significance and find  perspective on my place in this world.

Standing Still

The clouds are still, until I stop moving.

Standing still,
perfectly still,

I begin to see.

Slow and steady, they drift across the sky.

But, the longer I sit,
the quieter I am,
the faster they seem to fly:
rolling, tumbling, racing...

Moving along, blown across the sky by an unseen breath.

 And so it is with You, Lord.

Cause me
to be still.

When I am impatient, I miss what You are doing.
It seems You're not working, but as I wait on You, I begin to see.

Lift my eyes.

Remind me that
You are always at work.   

What a Difference a Night Makes

"It's always darkest before the dawn."

With those words, my mama would tuck a sad child into bed; sing a song, give a kiss, and say, "Just wait and see.  Things will look brighter in the morning."

stormy seas;
tossing, turning, spraying mist

calm waters;
smooth as glass

Same beach, same ocean.
What's the difference?

12 hours

Sometimes all that is needed is a hug and a kiss and a good night's sleep,
and sometimes we just have to wait for the winds to change.

Even if what you're facing seems to have no end in sight, this won't last forever.  Life with all its joys and cares is just a blink.  Before you know it, you'll wake up and see your time upon this earth in a different light.  Even the heaviest burden is light and momentary when compared with the treasure that is at stake.

Don't give up your courage.  Hold on to the God of your faith.
Live this day, this season, well.  It will be worth it tomorrow.

"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed... We never give up.... For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Cor. 2:8-9, 16-18

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."  Psalm 30:5

The World of Mary Poppins

No one knows what really goes on inside a home except the people that live there.  Behind closed doors, even the most "perfect" looking home can be perfectly miserable.

"Winds from the east... Mist comin' in... Like something's a brewin', about to begin..."
As I peer over the deck of my third floor room on this grey and gloomy day, I think of London.

It's been nearly 20 years since I walked the streets of that historic city, but I remember the damp, foggy air.

This coastal neighborhood of Ocean Grove, New Jersey reminds me of the setting of Mary Poppins.  With the English Channel only a brief ride down the river Thames, I can imagine the Atlantic magically transforming into the North Sea

I walk through the narrow streets and across the green just as Bert began the movie in the park.

I almost hear the whistle of Admiral Boom blowing from the top of one of these old Victorian homes.

“Shouldn’t wonder if you were steering into a nasty piece of weather.” 

 Happily preoccupied with superficial perfection, it’s possible to be oblivious to the people in our lives and completely miss the potential within our own walls until a storm moves in and blows away the facade.

Mary Poppins isn't exactly the woman I remember her to be when I first saw her through elementary eyes.  She's a little more stern and strict than I had painted her in childish memories.

So why did I adore her and not fear her when I was little?

She was a gentle constant in a world of overly regimented neglect. The make-believe-world of Mary Poppins was adventure and surprises without chaos.  Yet, the reality of daily life of errands and chores was order without boring predictability or legalistic harshness.

She had a gentle seriousness ensuring the nursery was tidy and the medicine was taken, and in both instances it was her even-tempered sweetness that made both palatable.

So what is Mary Poppins' secret?
Was it having tea parties on the ceiling?
... stepping into sidewalk-chalk drawings?
... racing or joining a fox-hunt on a merry-go-round horse?
... or singing and dancing on the roof-tops?

She was spontaneous and fun, but I believe her real secret was knowing the power of patient and  generous love.

Expecting nothing in return, she steadily poured love into children, wives, and fathers; teaching them to appreciate the value of what was under their roof by example.

With her eyes open to the truly important things, she creatively gave others perspective. 

She saw people and details, be they the bird woman on the steps of St. Paul, chimney sweeps, or the dog with an urgent message.

She knew a "pie-crust promise" when she heard it, "easily made, easily broken",
and never judged things by their appearance, "even carpetbags".

She chose optimism, "well begun is half done".

She chose to join in the fun, "if we must, we must";
nor was she too busy to sing with the birds.

Unselfishly, she delighted in the secret joy of helping others rediscover a love of laughter by challenging them to indulge in large amounts quality time as a family.

I live in a happy home with a loving husband and generally cooperative children.  But, when bickering starts and the natives are restless, I can respond in a way that makes a frustrating situation only more miserable. 

It is at those times, I need to borrow the confidence and stamina of Disney's fictitious English nanny and mix in a little of Bert's easy going manner and jolly outlook.  Such a recipe is just what I need for handling ordinary parenting tensions in a winsome way.

Why argue when a lullaby would put the rebellion to bed?

Why lecture when a story will dispel the greed?

There is a time to not explain and walk away,
and there is a time to walk along side, listen, and then give advice.

It takes discernment and a little creativity to know what is really needed in each situation.

Who but God can give me this kind of wisdom?
He gives to all who ask and is the greatest source of inspiration.

I am not Mary Poppins, and I am definitely not "practically perfect in every way". But, I know the One who is absolutely perfect, and He has promised everything I need for life and godliness.

No nanny, baby-sitter, or grandparent could take my place in this divine match.  Because, apart from God Himself, no one loves my children more than I do.

God made me the mama of these munchkins, and as much as I enjoy getting away for a long weekend, I can't wait to get back home to "my world".

There is no substitute for a heart and home at peace and filled with joy.   

When "outsiders" take a look at my life, I want the surface appearance of beauty they see at a distance to prove genuine upon closer inspection.  I'm not after perfection in physical order and routine; I'm pursing a deep down delight in my husband and children in the celebration of daily life.  

(After writing this post, I did a little reading on Julie Andrews and came across this article originally published in 2000, "How Do You Solve a 'Problem' Like Maria Von Poppins?", further describing this "kind but extremely firm" method of discipline.)