Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No Answers

Tragedy seems to have become all too common in recent U.S. history. The torture and murder of the American Ambassador and his defenders in Libya, on the 11th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, and now, a horrifying and gut-wrenching murder of innocent first grade children in a school in Newtown, CT, are just 2 examples.

Leland and I have been comparing this time we're in, to the events that took place in the 1960's--the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy; the cold war and threats of nuclear devastation--when people in America were terrified and dismayed by what they were witnessing.

I was only one year older than those first graders, who were murdered on Friday by an insane gunman, when President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, TX. I still remember it vividly--the teachers crying, the reporters on TV, watching the caisson rumble down the streets, the horse without a rider and stirrups with backward-turned boots, and JFK's son saluting as his father's casket passed.

No doubt I remember much about November 22nd, 1963, because of the yearly reminders throughout time, that are now American history, but there were no reporters at Tecumseh Elementary School to chronicle what happened there. Those frightening memories were burned into my brain and have stayed there.

I wonder how much the surviving children of Sandy Hook School will remember about that horrible day their school was terrorized. My heart aches for them.

School, theater, and mall shootings. Planes full of innocent people flown into buildings full of innocent people. Murder by plane, car, firearm, knife; even a hammer, I read today. No reverence or respect for human life.

Do you wonder how we got here? Do you wonder why God allows such awful tragedy? Do you blame God for the evil that is part and parcel of life, since the beginning of human existence outside Eden? 

I don't have answers. I have theories--possible explanations based on observation of human behavior, modern American culture, and what I read in Scripture. I won't bother to pontificate because it will not bring back 20 first grade children. It won't relieve the unspeakable grief the parents endure as they prepare to bury their precious ones.

When I allow myself to imagine being in their places and having my children's lives (or my 3-year-old granddaughter's) suddenly and senselessly ended, I am sick to my stomach. And I pray, which is all there is left to do now, for God to pour his love, peace, and presence upon those who remain to live with the aftermath. As they seek him, this is his promise:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Change Of Season

Nature is an amazing teacher. So much of it reflects our inner lives, and the lessons abound.

With the fall season came brilliant colors and delightful weather for our enjoyment. It is my favorite time of year, hands down.

Pre-ride grooming--he's already excited
When I owned horses, it was also my favorite time of year to ride. I would get to the barn every chance I could, excited to ride out and see all the vibrant colors and feel a cool breeze as we galloped through the grass. Pep was anything but the deadhead, bomb-proof stereotypical Quarter Horse gelding. He was the smartest, most energetic and athletic QH I've owned or known. Born and bred for cutting, he loved having a job to do, but he also loved fall trail rides as much as I did. That first cool breeze up his nose would have him walking at nearly a trot pace, ears forward, spooking at leaves blowing across the ground. There was nothing dull about my best friend.

Fall is also a tough time of year for me, since I am currently not riding. It's ingrained in me to head to the barn and ride out, and then I remember--not now. It's another part of me--the equestrian I am at my God-created core, from my earliest memories--that I surrender to God's timing.

In characteristic fall style, the weather is widely variable and difficult to predict. It can be downright heavenly and alternately dreary and cold. So it is with our lives this year.

This fall, amidst some dreary days of life's challenges, we have been blessed to welcome a new family member; our son-in-law, Ross. Laurie, my youngest daughter, married her Starbucks crush, on October 20th. The day could not have been more beautiful, from the setting on a northwest Virginia horse farm to the beautiful couple, ceremony, and their guests. What an absolute joy and blessing!

That weekend, we learned our family has grown even more, with the announcement of (daughter and son-in-law) Alison and Chris's baby on the way!
Parents-to-be, Alison & Chris
Since that weekend in October, we've faced the challenges of a week down with flu, losing a lucrative photo shoot, and a costly home repair due to water damage; alternately, with some great business successes. Leland and I continue to move excitedly toward our business partnership.

Nature tells me that winter and the quiet stillness of dormancy is right around the corner. In our lives, however, we feel as though spring is appearing and life is stirring again. Buds are appearing, along with the hope and promise of renewed life. I pray this is our season:

The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, 
to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.
Deuteronomy 28:12