Contemplation. My natural and unavoidable state on a semi-regular basis; my alter ego that scares away all beings who prefer to skim the surface of life like water skis on an empty morning lake. Contemplation. My default, which allows me an opportunity to move forward during any given season.
Contemplation. My avalanche of words that I camouflage as a blog.

Through recent contemplative moments, God graciously spoke to me through repetitive words found in multiple books I'm currently reading. I typically can't stand to open more than one book at a time, but grad school changed that rule drastically.
As I have confronted the realities of losing my better half, way before I ever expected, I have wrestled with how we are to love our spouses like "Christ loved the church" without admonishing them exactly like Christ and the church. It's neither serendipitous nor coincidence that two of the books I'm reading have helped me address this very topic. It's simply divine. It is God's sweet voice loving me through written words. After all, "perfect love drives out all fear" (1 John 4:18).

Matthew and I just began reading You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan. If you know anything about this couple, you know that this is hardly a typical "marriage" book. Rather, it's an honest look at life through a lover of the Almighty. We are only through chapter 2, but I highly recommend it (even if you are single or reading it solo).  In the second chapter, the Chans discuss the "marriage of the Lamb," and emphasize how our earthly marriages have become an obsession, when they are merely a snapshot or Earthly example of our true marriage relationship. "We are the bride--we have been reconciled with God, and we currently enjoy a relationship with Him--but the actual wedding is still to come" (Chan, chapter 2). As much money and time as we put into our weddings on Earth, this should be a fraction of how we prepare for our real wedding after this life. Our marriages are simply an opportunity, like any other relationship, to shine Christ's beautiful light. Such light was used as a further example in a book Kyra actually recommended weeks before she passed away. The Hardest Peace written by the late Kara Tippetts (who ironically Kyra said touched her life even though she didn't think they had much in common), is an authentic autobiography about grappling with life's hardest struggles. After multiple rounds of cancer and a recent additional diagnosis, Kara's husband preached at their church in Colorado, and he didn't shy away from his plans to discuss Mark 12:18-27.  She writes,
                                         "He stood and talked of how we cling to the morsel we have been fed as a reminder, and forget the banquet that awaits. Then he broke down and said, 'We cling to the shadow of the story and forget the light in the story. We love the shadow.'..... Marriage is an illustration, a living illustration of our marriage to Jesus. Marriage is a reminder, a shadow, a picture of what is to come. When a marriage is based on Jesus, based on love, on grace, on the goodness of God in relationship, all who come in contact with that marriage will go away blessed, richer, nourished....Our struggle in marriage is holding so tightly to the other and forgetting the picture is the living allegory.... None of us have the strength to loosen our grip, untie the knots, open wide our hands to the loves we love. We lack imagination for life beyond what we can see, feel, smell, and taste. We are reckless in our grasping for more time, and forget the best is yet to come. We simply have so little imagination for our forever home, and yet I feel that Jesus is very gentle with us in our lack of understanding." (103-104)

I agree with Kara. We've lost our imaginations. As my sweet Silas initiated "pretend" this morning, and we embarked on a journey that took us through a zoo, into a snow storm, and finally flying high above the trees in our own co-piloted plane, I am reminded that I forgot how to use my imagination. I see only what is before my eyes or things I can dream of with realism. We have become such tactile persons with our touch screens and interactive media that we've lost the idea of something better that we can actually acknowledge with one of our five senses. We must become like little children again in order to love correctly. We must love richly in the here and now without fear or stipulation. We must know how deeply God's love reaches in order to love Him most of all while loving unabashedly those he's placed in our lives for a short time. When we recognize His great love for us, we are able to see that our momentary troubles simply draw us deeper into that love.

Sweet love knows no bounds...

We were trying some other textures for feeding therapy, and I think Silas is the best teacher for Levi!

My big man loves to contemplate the falling leaves just like his mama. After changing Levi I came to find he moved the furniture to get alone with nature. :)

Loving fall and loving everything that comes with it- outdoor nature hunts, leaf stomping, picnics, and Levi sweating less. :)  

~Contemplative Buster