Design

IMG_5091.JPGThe masked faces of the dental surgeon and his assistant seemed to float above me.  She braced my chin; he pushed and pulled.

“That one’s being a little stubborn, huh?” she asked.

“Well, they’re not really designed to come out,” he responded.  “Hand me 105 please.”  He was trying to be discreet, but it wasn’t hard to guess what “105” was code for.  The whine of a tiny saw buzzed inside my mouth, cutting the stubborn tooth in pieces.  I closed my eyes, breathing deeply of the laughing gas that made it all seem like a dream, floating far, far away.

Maybe I wasn’t at the oral surgeon’s office having all four of my wisdom teeth removed, after all.  Maybe I was in the red leather rocking chair at home, dozing off while I nursed my baby.  Wasn’t that the whine of my dad’s saw down in the basement, painstakingly cutting pieces of flooring to fit in the grid of the space he was helping us renovate?

And wasn’t that his voice, using that word “design”?

How would you like to design the cabinet space? 

What design should the ceiling tiles be? 

How would you like to design these shelves?  IMG_5097.JPGI’ve been answering room design questions all summer, so you can hardly blame the word for having a decided ring of familiarity.  It started with how big the room should be, where the walls should go.  It moved on to how many ceiling fixtures there should be, where the light switches should go, how many outlets I wanted.  Then it was questions about door styles, and trim styles, and cabinet styles.  And stain colors, and wood types, and hardware styles.

And finish choices.  Satin, semi-gloss or glossy?

And paint colors.  You want white?  Which white?

And flooring choices.  How durable?  How water-proof?  How smooth?  What color?

And ceiling tiles.  Me:  Seriously?  There are choices of ceiling tiles!?

And so many measurements.  How deep should this shelf be?  How high should the counter top be?

Wait—about those measurements.  I still had to decide about that.

Perhaps I furrowed my brow as this realization floated through my foggy, wandering mind.  “You’re doing just fine,” the surgical assistant reassured me cheerfully.  I acknowledged her kind effort to encourage me with an unintelligible grunt around the apparatus bracing my mouth open in a perpetual yawn.  The unpleasantness of reality seeped in.  That’s right.  I was at the dental office, in a black leather chair, not a red one; not napping in the late afternoon sunshine while snuggling a baby, but beneath the artificial lights of surgeon’s office.  That wasn’t my dad’s saw whining, and it certainly wasn’t cutting anything as pretty as espresso colored flooring in pieces.

My mind sorted through all this, and finally circled back to one positive thought relevant to my current state: the surgeon’s passing comment about design.  I knew from our pre-surgery consult that the root of the stubborn tooth he was currently whittling out was dangerously close to a nerve, and I had received all the disclaimers about worse-case scenarios.  Teeth aren’t designed to come out; nerves aren’t designed to be exposed.  All these bad things could happen.  Et cetera.

But, in that moment, his chance comment brought peace to my heart.  My teeth were designed—and I knew the Designer.   “O Lord, designer of this body, protect that nerve that You created and designed, guide the hands of this surgeon and the blades of his saw.”  Right then, silently praying, I was grateful that I had opted out of general anesthesia in favor of the Novocaine and laughing gas that still left me vaguely conscious of the proceedings.  I had been granted the privilege of acknowledging the Creator whose hands had formed my body in a most unexpected moment.img_5093.jpgTwo weeks later, I sat at a picnic table beneath a canopy of gilded autumn leaves, and took a cautious bite of the bread tucked in next to my bowl of wild rice soup.  Smiling ladies and a few husbands milled through the woods nearby, cocking their heads to admire the dozens of stunning quilts suspended among the graceful white birch trunks, commenting to each other over steaming cups of apple cider.  I chewed slowly, careful of the still tender incisions in the back of my mouth, then swallowed.  And marveled.  After two weeks of smoothies and soup, I was chewing again!

I cannot fully express how satisfying it was to finally be back to productively moving my jaws and swallowing without pain.  While the teeth had not been ultimately designed to come out, God had designed my body to heal.  Can you imagine designing something so stunningly complicated as the human body?  Ha!  Considering the fact that I was feeling mentally taxed after designing one small, simple room in my basement, I guess not!  Certainly that particular design experience had given me a much deeper appreciation for the work of designers, God the Creator most of all.

Thank you, Lord, for your perfect design, I whispered in my heart.

Just then, a lady in a straw hat flashing a ready dimpled smile approached our lunch table.  She handed us tiny slips of yellow paper and pens, and warmly invited, gesturing towards the display of quilts:  “Would you like to vote for the best design?”

There was that word “design” again!

Off we went to wander critically through a maze of color, creativity and splendid design.  Would it be the whimsical bicycle with the Dresden plate wheels and meticulously fussy-cut floral basket?    The mesmerizing log cabin in which squares made of stripes became stripes made of squares?  And did you see that dizzying-ly magnificent portrait of a snowy owl crafted of thousands of tiny squares?IMG_5100IMG_5085-1IMG_5110

I voted for the bicycle on paper.  But in my heart?  The human body—and the One who designed it—won “Best Design”, hands down.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14)

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth…he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.(Acts 17: 24)

 

Playing in the Reflections

IMG_8062-1.jpgIt was possibly the most gloriously beautiful November day we’ve had yet—and if the playful antics I observed this morning are any evidence, apparently the otters knew it, too.

There was a whole family of them, three frolicsome pups and their only slightly more sedate parents, all playing lively games of dive and chase together in the liquid reflections.  The surface of the lake roiled wildly with underwater fun, occasionally erupting into sparkles of splashes, and the curves and shimmers of sleek brown bodies.

As I watched their joy-infused antics with pleasure, it occurred to me that there is more than one way to compose a psalm of praise.  To some is given the gift to string words together and put them to music…

“All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing…
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!” (Francis of Assisi)

But to others it is given to write their praises to Creator God by the way they live their lives.

For my sleek little neighbors, it is dancing through the water to make poetic ripples on a blue hole of a lake on a sunny day.  What is it for you?

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

 

P.S. Go here to hear a worshipful acapella version of the above quoted hymn and infuse your day with a beautiful note of praise!

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Fall Color Tour 2016

img_7506Ah, peak of fall.  We just finished that splendid time of year in which they mark little roads around here with signs designating them as part of the “Fall Color Tour”, and if you take one, you should be prepared to drive very slowly.  That is, at least if I’m in the car and have my camera along (wink).

Now, alas, the wind has taken most of them to the ground.  If you missed it, however, you’re in luck—because I did all the hard work for you and took pictures of the best spots.  I hereby invite you to sit back, enjoy a mini tour from the comfort of your chair, and join me in praising the Lord for the autumnal beauty of the earth.  (Not included is the sound of wind rustling through leaves already fallen, the wonder of leaves falling all around like glorious confetti, and the mingled fragrance of gentle autumn sunshine and rain showers.  My apologies; try to use your imagination.)img_7544“Shout joyfully to God, all the earth… img_7534Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious…    img_7423Say to God, “How awesome are Your works!…img_7092All the earth will worship You, and will sing praises to You…img_7180
They will sing praises to Your name….img_7404Come and see the works of God, who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men…img_7384Bless our God, O peoples, and sound His praise abroad.” (Psalm 66:1-5, 8)

 

For last year’s fall colors, and some fun memories of my grandpa, see here.

 

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September Rain

IMG_7026.JPGI’m hurrying to finish my errands on a gray and rainy day, wishing I had brought an umbrella.  I’m focusing on the heavy clouds and the moisture seeping uncomfortably into my shoes.  I almost missed it.  But the tiny flash of color caught my eye as I passed and I turned back to look.  And there, out of the blue, in the last place a country girl expects to capture the essence of autumn, there’s this single leaf, liquid golden-yellow against a city sidewalk wet with September rain.

Before you know it, I’m running back to my car for my camera, ignoring the great drops splashing on my head as I lean in to capture this one small, brilliant taste of fall—and suddenly grateful for the rain that saturates the colors and makes it shine.  Even in the rain, He gives good gifts, if only we have our eyes open to see—and sometimes they’re all that much better because of it.

“…Rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful…” (Joel 2:23)

 

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