Wednesday, April 16, 2014

offering

Rain falls gently on the skylight as I ponder...

This is holy week. Today I pour out my alabaster jar and worship the risen Christ, not a dead god but a risen Lord.

Many hours, many days, many years... it has taken a lifetime thus far to reach today.

Our business here is to live right on, to be presently here where we are, fully attending to the things before us while always in prayer and worship. This is a tough thing, this living, uncommon and awkward. We prefer action and activity over it. We prefer to believe we have a lot of say in how things go... And so our living ebbs and flows..

Well, my living ebbs and flows. You may be a saint. 

But today, today... I will take a moment today to pause. Maybe a good long moment...

Pause to truly give honor to the one who gave me this life... this living before me.

I was asked last night what my life was like before Christ. "dead" I said. I have no other words than that all encompassing word.

And so I think about this living. This love, this grace, this wonder. This hope, this joy, this peace.

And I think too, of my pride, my selfish ambition, my lack of humility... so many words to describe my entangling sins flash before my eyes when I pause to celebrate.

They shout UNWORTHY...

They prick at my living and weaken my faith...

I know whom I have believed in... and he is able...

So I breathe deeper, draw quieter... Releasing all of me into the hands of my redeemer....
and weeping, pour my offering at his feet. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easter, Christ, and the Cross

This is a post about love.

I have been inhaling some new-to-me books I bought which were written by James Stewart. His simple and clear language is a delight to me as I process through this season.

Easter is around the corner, and the blood of christ has been on my mind.  The blood shed by a king so loving that he shed it for me...  The nails and the sweat and the blood... each step saying, this I do out of love for you.. but do you love me?

I confess that many times I do not love Christ as I ought. I go about my days, bumbling and busy as I always appear, and I fail to pause. I fail to recognize the simple sweet reality that I am his.

Not this year. This year I have been mesmerized by this Jesus. Jesus, who in his very nature God, did not let equality with God to be his goal, but rather put on the flesh of a simple human... taking our form, walking in our world, being like us. Jesus, who brings life from death. Jesus, who loves us when we know not, cares when we cannot, and persists when we dare not.

This Jesus speaks to me. He says, come to me. Walk my way. Trust in me. He says, I know your world, your ways, your options...but my ways and my world are so much more... Don't fall for the trap that this is all there is, that there is no hope, that there is no future. Walk with me and I will take you farther than you can begin to fathom.

This Jesus. He drew a handful of men from the wildest of groups... giving us a first look at the church, with a tax collector working alongside fishermen alongside the rest... He didn't collect them from the proper realm; no, that would have been too easy, too much like the rest. He took those that couldn't see themselves and called them by name.

Just as he does to us.

Just as he did Paul - who says so many times that the love of Christ compelled him... Once Saul, once an adamant pharisee;  now Paul, willing to do anything to teach, to encourage, to share...

The love of Christ compels me.

As we draw close to Easter, let us not forget that it was love that paved the way to the cross.

Friday, March 28, 2014

you make known to me the path of life

I'm working on a small project that is due in early May. I'm meditating on psalm 16... Beginning with "Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge." and ending with "at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore."

I will be looking at perspectives and crafting a bit of my story...

In the movie "Life of a King," Cuba Gooding Jr plays an ex-con who turns his life around by learning the game of chess....

In my life, I play a woman whose life was turned around by grace and mercy...
Stay Tuned!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

untitled

Let us remain true to our commitments even when the world rocks around us.
Let us not fall to the left or the right but stay on the path which leads to life.
Let us drop our stones
Let us fix our eyes
Let us strike the match and shine the light.

I am so thankful culture is not God.
God is so much bigger, so much more powerful, so much more loving.
Culture is the little boat tossed about on the waves.
Christian Culture?
Yes, all culture.
There is one truth, one hope, one life, one way.
It crosses all culture, all people, all demographic.
Let us not forget this.

Let us hold on to the truth which we know.
Let us drop those things which entangle us
Let us run this race with perseverance
Let us fix our eyes...

It really is this simple.
It may feel like the hardest thing to do
To stay out of the crowd
To stay on the path
To persist when your friends are fading

~~~~~~~~~
When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
~~~~~~~~~~
 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.
~~~~~~~~~~ 

Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.” The man asked, “What in particular?”
Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”
“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
~~~~~~~~~~
Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”
“Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”
He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”
Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”
Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.
But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
“If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seventeen

So, today marks the 17th wedding anniversary of the king and I. Practicing my creative!
Even though seventeen years seems long, it doesn't at all seem long...puzzling...
Various wild and wonderful events have shaped us..
Experiences!
Now here we are, staring down the empty nest - in five short years they could all fly!
Things between us are pretty consistent - unlike those rough and tumble years
Experience has brought wisdom and a dose of maturity.
Encouraging and challenging one another to soar with Christ,
New things may come, but we know how to take them together.

Don't let this little poem fool you. The king and I have had a wild and crazy adventure getting here. In fact, Rashi, a jewish commentator on the Torah - seems to describe our years of marriage:
"From the time of creation, relationships between spouses have at times been adversarial. In Genesis 2:18, God calls woman an ezer kenegdo, a "helper against him." The great commentator Rashi takes the term literally to make a wonderful point: "If he [Adam] is worthy, [she will be] a help [ezer]. If he is not worthy [she will be] against him [kenegdo] for strife." This Jewish study also described man and woman facing each other with arms raised holding an arch between them, giving a beautiful picture of equal responsibility.
Yet, here, on this day... it seems as though we have learned a lot more than we anticipated, and we are a lot more stable than we should be. We still grumble and bumble... we are still human (and there are still daughters in the home)

Here's to the next seventeen!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Maturing

Me and my quirks...

So, Sunday marked the 21st year of my intentional decision to follow hard after Christ.

Yesterday also marked a revelation... I've hit my spring lonely spell...

I ready Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry over the weekend and realized that I long for the days of old, where a community would work and visit and live, all together... Surely there were a lot of missing pieces, there was no facebook, no twitter, no text message to keep them all connected. But they didn't feel that lack.. And when they were lonely, well, they would go on a walk to the neighbors and visit. It was enough for most to provide them encouragement to continue.

This isn't the days of old, but rather the 21st century.. and, considering what I just read in Real Simple "It sometimes feels as if the world is turning into one big meta-experience," I gather that I'm not the only one who might be feeling lonely.


There is a challenge I am facing as I find myself here...  Can I allow the world to carry on without me, and settle into the small, limited, private world of our town... or will I always be like the 3 year old who must stay the life of the party until way past her bedtime and then cranky and tired, throw a fit?

Learning.

So, 21 years is quite a long time, and in the natural world, 21 is considered a full fledged adult.

As I process this spring lonely, I am drawn to the word, to the life of David, who, for all of his activity and foolishness and sin, was a man after Gods heart.. David, whose very nature was a bit rash and excitable (sounds familiar) yet longed for the courts of the Lord (also sounds familiar) who knew the solitude of shepherding (solitude of long walks with my dog) as well as the noise and violence of battle (the noise and violence of my youth in the city)

And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriahs wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died.... Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own  house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, "What is this thing you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food?" He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again, I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."
(Second Samuel Twelve)
And so, I leave you with a thought. May we pursue Christ with fullness, in repentance, with our joy and sorrow, with our lonely and our busy, much like David. Fully living, in crisis or in health...

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brave

Being sprayed by a skunk is not something on my wish list. Asia, my lab shepherd mix, seems to be a magnet for skunks, as she has been sprayed twice this winter. As I stared down at her this evening, frustrated and alone, I knew I had no choice but to act. My options limited, I prepared to handle my 70# dog on my own. I shooed her off the porch in frustration, hoping she would just stay in the yard, but I think her already sad heart was broken, and she darted into the dark.

Asia is a pure black dog, and didn't come when I called. There is an acre of dark here, and so I presumed she was just hiding from me... I sped to the store to get my chemistry gear, the best ingredients you can buy to combat skunk.

Meanwhile, at my neighbors house... Asia appeared out of the dark, and I was gone.

I returned, not knowing what had transpired. I setup my plan for caring for her outside, and called and called... finally walking around in the dark with my flashlight and the leash. She had to be out there somewhere as the whole neighborhood was barking.

My neighbor came outside, "I have your dog!"

Relief.

I sped toward her, assuming she would be in the garage, but no, she was in her house! My neighbor smelled her, saw that I was gone, and immediately took her into her house and bathed her. This mountain which I was preparing to face had already been stood down.

*********

So what does bravery look like? I have to say it looks a lot like my neighbor tonight. My neighbor acted courageously against an obstacle that wasn't even hers to face. I want to say I am brave, but most often I'm the woman frustrated at the situation...

Bravery isn't something we hear much of these days, except in random sound bites and stolen bits off the web. But its something I believe we are called to, something we can be, no matter the circumstance.

In fact, as I was driving back from the store, I felt pretty brave. I was upset but I didn't sit down and cry, I was angry but didn't just give up. I chose to tackle the situation...

So I suppose bravery can even come from the frustrated but acting right anyway.

What a difference in the heart, though. My neighbor, without a thought, had bravery in her heart...

*********

I don't have an answer for growing in bravery, except this. There is a passage in the bible, the book of Hebrews, which describes a race. I believe we are in a race, to some degree, each of us. I've heard life described as a marathon, which to me sounds like a pretty accurate description! In this passage, we are reminded to fix our eyes NOT on the situation, and NOT on the people around us, but on the goal, the prize. The goal and prize of the christian life is christ-like-ness...  Becoming in our heart and character more and more like Christ, so when we finish our race, we join him at the finish line.

*********

Meanwhile, tonight in my neighborhood, I am preparing a prize for my awesome neighbor, because she met a goal that she wasn't even anticipating!  And I hope I  learn from her example as I continue on in my marathon, and continue to grow in bravery...