Tuesday, December 7, 2010

end of the year


It is the end of the year and I am feeling a bit reflective.
I recently returned home, having been in Chicago for a few days; this time to finish helping move Mom into assisted living.
I sense she is rather reflective these days, thinking about all the changes she has experienced in the past several years. She and Dad sold their house and bought a condo which they loved. Within a few years, they sold that and moved to Covenant Village, the graduated care facility in Northbrook where they now live. Dad moved to the secured Alzheimer's unit in March; we just moved Mom to assisted living December 2. The loss of independence has caused her to feel unsettled, displaced, confused, uncertain. One can hardly blame her! She thinks back to days not long ago when she could roll over to see Dad there next to her in bed; they companionably watched TV together at night; ate breakfast together. Now they live those intimate moments alone. And she thinks about it.
So do I.

What I think about is all the wonderful years they have loved each other. I am particularly aware of it when I visit and see Dad struggle to stand when Mom slowly walks down the hall toward him. She arrives to greet him and he wraps her in a hug and beams at her, tears occassionally coming to his eyes. He tells her he loves her. He tells her how beautiful she is.
He usually knows who she is but there are times when he confuses her with his mother or his beloved first wife who died long years ago. But he knows one thing for sure; he loves this woman mightily.
When I see this scene, I reflect on how their love is alive at a mitochondrial level. No function or malfunction of his mind has touched his love for her.
As for Mom? She rarely misses a moment to sit with him. Each day, all day, she is there with him. She doesn't always understand him when he tries to talk. His eyes are not always open. He has no news to share with her, no idea to add to the conversation. But she loves him as he loves her. Just being together is enough now.

So I reflect on these things at the end of this year of great change. I think about how I have been privileged to see that love when it was much younger and exuberant. I think about how I have been "programmed" to want their kind of love. I think about how blessed I am to get glimpses of a deep, abiding, secure, faithful, mature love near the end of its days.
And I am thankful.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

spic 'n span

I've been gone for 2 1/2 weeks visiting family. Larry was with me for one of those weeks. It was grand to get away with him, see Rachael and Andrew, Larry's dad and my parents and friends. He left after a visit with my parents; I stayed on for another week and a half.
When I came home, the house was spotless. It's always like this when I've come home from a trip. He works full-time but manages to have the place sparkling, laundry done, yard mowed, new sheets on the bed.... How does that happen!
I clean one room a day and it doesn't ever seem to be enough. I think I need to kick it up a notch and be more like Larry.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

darkness

"Why are the dark places holy?" Orual, Till We Have Faces; C.S. Lewis

"Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on His name. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment." Isaiah 50:10,11
"Then Solomon said, "The LORD has said that He would dwell in a dark cloud" 2 Chronicles 6:1
"The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was." Exodus 20:21
"Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." Psalm 139:12
Indeed, darkness and light are no different to God - the difference is ours to experience.
While it is true that "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" I Jn. 5:1, God is in the darkness as we experience it in our lives. He is not ONLY in the light but He is also in the darkness; sometimes He calls us THERE and not into light - for a while. He IS our light in the darkness which, I think, is why we are warned not to light a fire or torch. Our own answers are not THE answer.
So if you are in the darkness now, if the path to follow is suddenly obscured from view for you or those you love, perhaps you are right where God wants you. At the very least, He is where you are. He meets you there. He sits with you there.
"Are you answered?" asked the gods of Orual. "Yes. You yourself are the answer." Orual discovered that the questions and the darkness melt away in the presence of God. She found Light when she finally admitted she could do nothing about the darkness of her soul.
God brings us to the light who is the Light of the world. God gives us Jesus in our darkness.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

dust

I re-read my post about being dust and remembered a family story that always makes us laugh.

At another church we used to attend, there was a dear elder who would occassionally lead in worship and prayers. He is expressive in his everyday and prayer language. One morning, he was waxing quite eloquently on the fact that "we are but dust" (Ps. 103:14)....but his emPHAsis was on the wrong word... and we heard....we are butt dust.
Not just once, but several times over the course of the next few months, he said the same thing!! He had obviously been meditating on our totally fallible and frail human nature. We, however, were tense with anticipation and (dare I say it....glee!!) as he mounted the pulpit.
Our final week there, I thanked him for his work on behalf of the church family and expressed my personal gratitude for the hours of study he put into his Sunday School lessons and meetings at church.... and I told him of our dilemma when he would pray! I left him laughing hysterically at himself, delighted and mortified at the same time that such a thing had happened!!
We all felt the same way!! Still do!!

to err is human; to forgive is... nearly impossible

I was reading another blog this morning. It was about how hard it is to apologize. So true. To admit I am wrong is against my human nature. I want to be right. I want others to know I am right!
Then I remembered a study done on forgiveness. I posted this in response to the other blog:
I think forgiving is much harder than apologizing. Forgiving is releasing the offender from the load they carry for the wrong done and taking it on myself. It is caring for the person who offended me. There is almost never a way to make the situation better once an offense has occurred. Only forgiveness does that. And the wounded one bears the load.

That is why the cross is so wonderful. I can't carry the load I just took PLUS the wound the offense gave me. I MUST take it to the cross where I am forced to remember that Jesus took ALL my sins/offenses and died for my freedom from judgment, guilt and shame.
Forgiveness is harder than an apology - but true forgiveness refreshes my perspective on who I am in Christ.
And so, an apology must be made with the awareness of what it is one is really asking the other person to do for you - take your offense for you.

my back is back

Sometimes living daily life is dangerous. Was it the vacuuming that did it? Was it reaching for that weed behind the flowers? Was it struggling with the flax leaf that wouldn't come loose?
What ever it was, a disk slipped and a nerve got pinched and I went down in pain.
We are fragile creatures, taken down by little things.
It is humbling to be human - both words finding their root in the Latin word for earth. And so I am reminded that I am dust - dust that is, nevertheless, headed for heaven. In this earthen vessel lives an eternal indestructable spirit!! Even this dust will be made new and everlasting.
Being down these last 5 days has given me plenty of time to reflect on the curious reality of holding eternity in a temporary,fragile, earthen vessel.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

veils

Not so long ago, I went to my son's dealership for the unveiling of the new Jaguar. It was quite dramatic; the lights were dimmed, exciting music was beating to match the heartbeat of car afficianados, the turntable on which the car, veiled from our eyes, began to turn. Slowly, slowly the lighting over the car began to brighten and the satiny covering was slowly lifted. The music exploded, the lights came up to full brilliance and cheers erupted as the new car appeared. It was drama played out in the showroom.
And not so long ago, a lovely veiled bride, who is my daughter, walked down the aisle to be unveiled by her husband.
The veil represented the separation between them. She could not be fully known until she was unveiled. That moment when the groom lifts the veil and kisses his bride
is always the high point of the drama of any good wedding, and so it was that day.

Veils represent separation, secrets, hiding. The veil I want to contemplate is a bit different. It has a sinister quality to it, perhaps even ill-intent.
In Lewis' book Till We Have Faces the veil is an ever-present character. Orual covers herself, believing that the veil will give her the power which her ugliness seemed to keep at bay. She also feels the need to protect her people from her ugliness.
It is this protecting people from herself that I find interesting. God veiled Himself until Jesus was born. He hid Himself from Moses. Though Moses said that he saw God, what he saw was a manifestation of God in the burning bush and the backside of God as he was hidden on the mountainside: "'But,'He said, 'you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live.' Then the LORD said, 'There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.'" Gen 33:22,23 Manoa, Gideon and Jacob declared that they, too, had seen God. Is there a contradiction if God says no one has seen His face but these men say they saw God!!
No! Have you ever heard anyone say, "I can see where this is going to lead us in the future."? Surely, this person is not clairvoyant!! What about "I see your father's face in your face." Or passing by a house that is designed by a student of the great architect, I have said, "I can see Frank Lloyd Wright in that." None of these is literally true. We see representations of the reality. But the reality is very clearly "seen" in the represemtation.
God "veiled" Himself in representation. But these are not the only examples of where He was veiled.
The Jerusalem temple, a replica of the wilderness tabernacle, had a curtain that was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and four inches thick. Whether or not these are the same dimensions of the Tabernacle, the idea was one of separation, protection for man from a Holy God who could not look on evil and sinful man who could not look on Holy God. The priests, Holy of Holies and the Tabernacle itself, for that matter, were representations of God.
Am I saying that God was not present in the representation. I don't think so. I'm not going to be dogmatic here. I'll leave that to pastors and better students than I. I could go either way. Nevertheless, I see no contradiction in what God said and what these men said.
That was a rabbit trail.
Where does that leave us with Orual and God?
Orual unveiled herself. She was finally honest. She faced herself - pardon the pun. She was no longer a representation of herself as Ungit, her father (see other Till We Have Faces entries) but her real self - Orual. The unveiling - which was something the gods did TO her - led to salvation. (Interesting implications there for God's sovereignty in salvation.)
So too, did God's unveiling in Jesus lead to the final revelation of God's salvation plan. "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." God's plan was unveiled on the cross. The Tabernacle and the Law were part of the veil of God which, while not thrown away or invalidated at Jesus's unveiling, nevertheless were subsumed in His unveiling. The curtain, torn from Heaven to earth was God's final act of unveiling; once forbidden to enter, we are now invited into the Holy of Holies and to gaze on Him.
Psyche showed Orual what living faith would look like. Psyche was radiant when Orual visited her across the river. Psyche lived an unveiled life. It looked very different from Orual's in nature and quality. It was an untortured, hopeful life where she was free to long for her true home and the true Lover of her soul.
Jesus, in His new body, shows us what we shall be. That veil too, was torn away for us and we get a glimpse of what will be ours. No longer protected from God, we get to fully participate in the life of His Son and to know God the Father. Jesus is our Elder Brother. We are family with Him.
Let's hear it for the intentional unveiling of ourselves!
"Face" yourself before God. See yourself as you are. Then, if you are in Jesus, see yourself as God sees you. See God. See your future, unveiled in the Risen Jesus.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

together again


The dynamic duo will be reunited this afternoon.
Lydia left for Ohio to spend 5 days with Rachael and Andrew. Well, mostly Rachael, if I am to be accurate!! Mornings at Starbucks with the crossword puzzle from the newspaper. Laughing and talking wherever they are. This will be wonderfully refreshing for both of them.
Thank you, Larry, for doing this for them.
Thank you, God, for letting me know them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

it's like looking at my face in a mirror

In one more month, I will be leading another group of friends in a discussion of C.S. Lewis' powerful story "Till We Have Faces". I have said it before - aside from the Bible, it is my favorite story.
Orual is perhaps the most complex character crafted by an author. Her self deception, self transformation, self destruction are disturbing to read. I often feel like shouting at her!

The other day I was reading the part where she sees Psyche's new home, the mansion on the forbidden side of the mountain. She sees it, and denies she sees it. Right in front of her yet not there!!! It makes me want to slap the snot out of her. (My college roommate used to say that to me!!)
Then I remembered that Orual represents me in the story. God puts Himself in my path all day, every day. I don't/won't see Him!!
Lewis has slapped me.
I am snotless.

if it isn't one thing, it's the same thing

So if there isn't enough to keep one's mind occupied, now I have to worry about the pH of my body.
A new friend and I were talking about this. She tests herself every morning and maintains a healthy pH. I was sent home with a roll of pH paper and challenged to test myself.
I have work to do!! 'Nuf said.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

David needed a shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd. So David wrote.

He would know what that meant. Being a shepherd himself he would know what it meant to call the Lord his Shepherd.

Sheep are needy creatures. They fall down and don't know how to get up. They charge each other and butt heads and deliver wounds in the head because their wool causes them to sort of stick rather than graze off each other. They foolishly follow each other - not always to good and safe places. If they wander off, they can't find their way back to the herd. No wonder the shepherd needed to help those who were cast down and couldn't get up; anoint heads with oil so the butting heads wouldn't cause injury but rather slide off each other; stay close to the sheep to keep wandering off to a minimum; leave the sheep to search for the one who got lost.

They are quite helpless creatures. David knew this.

So to compare himself to a sheep was quite profound. To call God his Shepherd was quite lovely. David once wrote, “Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.” We all need guidance. We all need direction. We all need help, in this life. It is a good thing to recognize one’s neediness, for this realization puts one in position to be guided, directed, and helped. Only the needy know they need a shepherd. Only those who realize their need for guidance can be guided.

Falling down, wounding myself and others, getting lost. Sounds like things I do. I, too, need this Shepherd. And He is mine!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How Shall We Then Live?

Having to miss church this morning due to ongoing strep throat, I was listening to a sermon on the radio. The preacher was talking about "How Shall We Then Live" - spinning off of Francis Shaeffer's book of the same title. One of his points had to do with redemption. These are my musings from the sermon point.

I can't read or listen to someone who is articulate without thinking about the words being used. (There is a difference to me between words used and words said - I think words are often tools and not merely said but used.) And being a Latin teacher, I hear derivatives and think about root words.
Redemption.
It's root word is emo, emere, emi, emptus - to buy. With the prefix stuck on it - we understand redemo... to mean: to buy back; to recover. These are two of the dictionary definitions of the word redeem. So what!!
To buy back from what? Recover what?

Well, if redemption in the biblical sense has to do with the payment of the blood of Jesus which He made to God with for our salvation, forgiveness, ownership, putting us in sonship with God, then our redemption means we are made perfect in God's sight. He sees us as he sees Jesus.
Are we then back to the condition of Adam? Was he perfect?
I don't think so. Perfect is another Latin derivative. It comes from two words which together mean thoroughly done, thoroughly complete. Adam was not thoroughly done. He had to pass the test, resist temptation. He didn't; He was never perfect. He was created sinless but not perfect.
No.
We are better off than Adam was. If God sees us as He sees Jesus, we are perfect. We are not sinless but we are perfect. In Adam, we failed. But now that we are in Jesus, hidden in Him, we pass!! We pass the test because we are in Him! There is nothing left to be done to be in relationship with God. As Jesus is in relationship with God, we are in relationship with God. God bought us back from Adam's condition. We had once been - in Adam - sinless. That wasn't enough for God. He wanted for us the perfection of Chris. We tdo it - Adam couldn't do it. And so, through Christ's blood sacrifice, we were bought back to God, beyond sinless, all the way to perfect. Profound.
We are not sinless but we are perfect. We are redeemed.
The question then is: How shall we then live?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

lost right in front of us - but oh! so found

Dad's Alzheimers is overtaking what is really precious now.
His little blondie, Gracie, seems to be lost to him.
"Where did you grow up?" he asked her the other day.

"Dad, I'm your blondie, Gracie. I grew up in your house with you. I'm your daughter."
"No one told me that!"
He's so lost in another world, yet there sits that once wonderfully active, strong and handsome body.
He's pretty much gone.
Why does God leave him here?
What is left to us?
Whenever Gracie reads Scripture in the garden or gets out the old church hymnal to sing or asks Dad to pray, Dad is unnervingly in the moment. He is coherent, accurate, quotes Scripture, full of praise, aware of family names and needs.
Why does God leave him here with us?

So that we can see God in all His glory in this disease-ravaged, imperfect and broken vessel we still lovingly call "Dad".
A few weeks ago - maybe even as recently as this morning, to be honest - I would have said that Dad wouldn't want to live like this - in a nursing home, unable to go where he wants to go, be home with his dear wife of 56 years, drive his car, watch TV in his own family room, feed the birds, take a walk. But he is living how he has always lived - giving praise to His dear Savior.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-19

Thursday, July 22, 2010

here and now

I read this in a blog this morning and want to remember it.

Do you realise that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids?
If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about ageing that you think in fractions.
'How old are you?' 'I'm four and a half!' You're never thirty-six and a half.
You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.
You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.
'How old are you?'
'I'm gonna be 16!' You could be 13,
but hey, you're gonna be 16!
And then the greatest day of your life ...... .
You become 21.
Even the words sound like a ceremony.
You become 21.....YES!
But then you turn 30. Oooohh,
what happened there?
Makes you sound like bad milk!
He TURNED; we had to throw him out.
Then you're PUSHING 40.... Whoa!
Put on the brakes,
it's all slipping away.
Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone
But wait!!!
You MAKE it to 60.
You didn't think you would!
You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70!
Crash!
After that it's a day-by-day thing.

You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle.
And it doesn't end there.
Before you know it, you are into the 90s, you start going backwards;
'I Was JUST 92.'
Then a strange thing happens.
If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. 'I'm 100 and a half!' May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!

Some things to remember - no matter how old you are:
1. Throw out nonessential numbers.
This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'
2. Keep only cheerful friends.
The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning.
Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever... Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long and loud.
Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. Tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on.
The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
7. Surround yourself with what you love.
That means family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
8.Cherish your health:
If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don't take guilt trips.
Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is. And don't travel alone if you can help it.
10. Tell the people that you love them, at every opportunity.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER : Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

moving out


Lydia is not a little girl anymore.
Lydia is moving out.
She is beginning to pack for the big move next week to a house she will share with 6 others near school.
I wonder what she will take with her - will she take pictures of her friends and family? Will she take all those pillows that "box" her in as she sleeps? Will she take her trophies from shooting? And which books will she pack - surely not just school books but some Shakespeare and Williams and other literature she loves!
Will she take any of those really hot shoes in all the colors of the rainbow?
What says "home" to her? Not this home. Her home. How will she make her "home"?
Lydia is grown up and moving out. I've been watching. I saw it happen. I like what I've been seeing.
And I'll keep watching and enjoying what I see!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

things I'll....

I was thinking of some new things I could do but then got to thinking about:
Things I'll never do again.
I'll never give birth again.
I'll never live at home with my children again.
I'll never climb Mt. Fuji again.

And then there are:
Things I have yet to do.
Take my children to Japan.
Get in a car with Larry and drive with no plan of where we will end up.
Be a grandmother.
Bury my parents...
Get a Master's Degree.
Make a roast that turns out well.
Go to Europe.
Throw clay on a wheel.
Start a business.
Plan one more wedding.
Read all of C.S. Lewis

Here are things I cannot quit doing:
Loving my family and friends.
Anticipating Sunday morning worship.
Laundry.
Worrying about my kiddos. (not exactly worry but, you know...)
Making dinner every night.
Working on my weight.
Reading.
Meeting new people.


Looking over the lists, I realized I am OK with the things that will never be again; I'm excited about the things that have not yet come to pass; I'm resigned to and even enjoy some of the things that will always be.

All in all, I'd say things are looking up!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

who is important

Is the title a question or a statement?

Important.
An interesting word.
It comes from a cognate of the Latin word porto - to carry; to be of consequence.   Importans then would mean carrying in; being of consequence. 
So someone or something that is important has consequence.
I wonder if we have given a bit more meaning to the word, however.  We say there are importnat people in our lives.  That would mean that, in contrast, there would be unimportant people.  There are important events and unimportant events.  Can that really be true?

Have you ever witnessed someone who was helpless be treated in an ill manner by others?  Have you seen an elderly person ignored or not given preference somewhere? 
Did a cashier roll his eyes to us about a foreigner or an elderly person in line who was hard to understand taking a bit too long to manage the debit card machine?
Did we turn away?
Did we roll our eyes back.  Did we huff and shift our weight with impatience?
Did we laugh inside?
Because the person was unimportant? 
Of no consequence?

Do we search out only the important people for conversation at a party or at church?
Do we answer the emails only from the important people?
Do we entertain only those whom we wish to impress, those who can benefit us?

Did Jesus hang out only with the important people?
Did He engage in conversation only those with whom everyone else was impressed?
Did He desire change, happiness, love only for the ones who would benefit him?
Did Jesus choose to save only the "important" people in the world?

Do we get to choose who is important, who is of consequence and who isn't?

Rather, Jesus held and taught the children, engaged the harlot in conversation, healed the paralytic and the leprous and the blind, called to himself the doubters and the unwieldy.  Shall we do less?

It may be that the child to whom we stop and listen will open our eyes to something God wants us to see.
It may be that the older person with whom we stop to speak and to whom we listen will share a gem of life, a reminder of God's faithfulness.  That foreigner should remind us that we, too, are foreigners yet residents here and that we, too, are awkward at times in that already/not yet-ness of living here on this earth which we will someday reign and rule. 
The mentally and physically challenged among us show forth God's grace and wonder that ministers in mysterious ways to minds and bodies in ways we don't understand - but we may get a glimpse if we see them as important to God as we are. 

It just may be that these are the very people God puts in our way. They have a very specific purpose for us.
Have you ever moderated your normal behavior, having given thought to the cashier's behavior, then deciding to assist the one struggling rather than be smug; perhaps you interupted your cup of coffee your reading material to visit with the lonely old lady next to you; looking the little child eye to eye at church, has that child felt safe enough to tell you something and as a result, taken you in as a friend?
You changed as you "made yourself of no reputation".

"...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me....."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

has this ever happened to you?

Have you ever been telling a story to someone, been in the middle of a conversation with a group of friends, and right in the middle of what you are saying, you realize you are rambling?  Going on and on.  Going nowhere.  Did you realize how mind- numbingly boring you were?  Did you realize you were boring yourself?  Why did I even start this story?  Why am I exposing myself so much?
Have you ever noticed the eyes of the person/people to whom you are talking looking over your shoulder to someone with whom your audience would rather be?  Or perhaps they were looking at nothing - and they would have rather been there!!  Their eyes are darting around the room to find some way out, someone who would read their distress and come over and save them.
But you can't stop talking because that would be more awkward than just finishing this awful story, worse than standing there completely emotionally naked.  You drop out hordes of details just to mercifully get to the end, realizing that it doesn't have to be cohesive because no one - not even you - is listening anymore.
And when you are done and the person/people quickly escape, do you commit to yourself on pain of death itself to join a social hermitage?  Do you commit yourself to being insanely interested in whatever anyone else is saying so that you never have to talk again, never have to risk again, never have to expose yourself again, never have to humiliate yourself again!! 
No?! 
I didn't think so.
But there I go again.
Being boring. 
Forget I said anything.
Please.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Love's as...

LOVE'S AS WARM AS TEARS by C. S. Lewis

Love's as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green

Love's as fierce as fire, 

Love is fire:
All sorts--Infernal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride, 

Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied, 

And that empyreal flame 

Whence all loves came. 


Love's as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering "Dare! Dare!"
To sap, to blood,
Telling "Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best."

Love's as hard as nails,
Love is nails: 

Blunt, thick, hammered through 

The medial nerves of One 

Who, having made us, knew 

The thing He had done,
Seeing (what all that is)
Our cross, and His.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

godly wastefulness

Last week's sermon was, "Lent is about wastefulness."
That got everyone's attention. It was an encouraging sermon about enjoying God in lavish, even wasteful ways as Mary did when she poured out $15,000 worth of oil on Jesus' feet. Judas pointed out, as we might have done, that it could have been given to the poor. Rather than agree with Judas, Jesus commended Mary.
This lovely sunny, breezy SoCal Saturday morning, I sat down to read a bit. I pulled "Angels in the Architecture" off my shelf and opened to the chapter "Worshiping With Body". I will close here with the first few paragraphs of the chapter.

We so often lead lives forgetful of the fact that our God is very shocking. Amidst all our fragile piety and devouring busyness, we have a Lord who steps in and COMMANDS us such things as, "Thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever they soul desireth; and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household". (Deut, 15:26) Such unthriftiness. Such waste. Such gluttony. Such winebibbing. Such is a command of our Holy God.

For some reason foreign to our modern ears, God tell us that celebration is central to pleasing Him; it is central to leading a good life. Modern American life has no time for serious celebrations as did life in centuries past. We've got work to do; projects and deadlines press us. And yet for all our industrial-strength pragmatism, few if any truly important things get accomplished. We have forgotten that celebration isn't just an option; it's a call to full Christian living.
Celebration is worshiping God with our bodies, with the material creation He has set up around us. Celebration - whether in feasts, ceremonies, holidays, formal worship, or lovemaking - are all part of obeying God's command to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy strength" (Deut. 6:5; Mk. 12:30). We are to show our love for God not just with one portion of our being (the spiritual aspect); we are to love God with our whole body, heart and strength and legs and lips.

Complaint is the flag of ingratitude, and it waves above the center of unbelieving hearts - "when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful" (Rom. 1:21). Yet by grace, God's redemption and creation ought to keep us in a perpetual state of thanks which bursts out in celebration at every opportunity.

He depicts this redemption not in terms of intellectual satisfaction or quiet piety but in terms of an extravagant feast: "And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined" (Is. 25:6) - choice pieces, well--refined wines and fat things!! - all the blessings which anemic moderns say we shouldn't have. Redemption doesn't appear to be a low-cal, cholesterol-free affair.
Douglas Jones, p. 79, 80

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lewis on helping others

One reader asked Lewis for a list of Christian books he would recommend for a friend of hers who was struggling emotionally and spiritually. Lewis replied that “where people can resist or ignore arguments, they may be unable to resist lives.” He added that his correspondent herself might be more pivotal in her friend’s spiritual healing than any book he might name.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

pouting and tantrums

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
I don't think it is supposed to apply to super great, award-winning pouting sessions and tantrums. You know, the kind regularly exhibited in the grocery store line when the child in front just ahead has received the fifth "NO!" to the request for candy.
I pout too much.
There. I said it.
Why do I think anyone owes me anything! Why do I think God should make a bumpless road for me to walk! How can I be reading my Bible and think my life should be different from anyone else's life! Who do I think I am! And why don't I choose to remember that God has given me all that I need! Why do I turn inward, emotional arms wrapped defensively and tightly around the very heart that claims to trust God!
I resist maturity at almost every turn.
I am re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan sometimes purrs, sometimes growls, sometimes roars to get the attention of the pouter, tantrum-thrower and miscreant. He sometimes corrects with a look, sometimes with a word, sometimes with a swipe of His paw. As Mr. Beaver said, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn't safe! But he's good, I tell you!" Aslan's growl was always followed by words of disappointment, correction, forgiveness and a nuzzle in the great furry mane.
If you see me pouting, remind me that "Aslan" is just around the corner.
I'd prefer not to hear the growl, not to disappoint God. I'd prefer to train myself to think that whatever lack or ill or bump in the road that has me pouting and throwing my hissy-fit was meant to drive me deep into His furr.

Monday, March 22, 2010

in sight

Insight and in sight.
Understanding is seeing....
Hmm....
In the midst of the care and concern in the family, there were some light moments, as well. Here are a few.... in sight.
One is dedicated to Ruthie and several invoke Uncle Scott!!
Click the forward button - these will play!!
crazy Gracie keeps me laughing

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feats of strength featuring the cousins Mel and Rach.
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Doctor Linnea and Grocer Linnea with a shout out to Uncle Scott
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More singing - I didn't say it was good but we enjoyed it!
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

a thread

Dad just came through sugery. He is weak and in serious condition. Lee arrived this morning from Vermont and is with Mom.
I was just there last week - haven't even been back a week. He was in the hospital exactly a week ago.
Gracie just arrived at a beach condo in S. Carolina for a much needed and long overdue vacation with her family.
Kathy is in Africa but we are emailing just now. Strange that the one to whom I am connected right now is on the other side of the world. We met at the Throne just a while ago.

Dear God.... ...Tho' much is taken, much abides;
And tho' we are not now that strength
Which in old days moved earth and heaven,
That which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate,
But strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Ulysses, Tennyson

I love you Dad and Mom. They are yours, dear Lord.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

a descanso kind of day


Descanso Gardens is all dressed up in her Spring finery.
I walked the fragrant paths yesterday with a new friend after she treated to a yummy lunch at Dish in La Canada Flintridge. It was a perfect day of lunch, cheek chucking of her three month old, and good old-fashioned visiting.
On the way home, I thought about how much we miss in this text-happy world and how much I had gained that afternoon and I'm grateful we both took the time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the coffee shop around the corner

Almost everyday I go to the coffee shop around the corner. I read, study and enjoy conversation with the regulars and new people. It is a community place. Guys there do business. Students study on their computers. Friends visit. Tanya makes cupcakes and cookies and blended mochas and holds the place together.
I enjoy whatever happens there from day to day. Sometimes I just read. Sometimes I visit with Tanya if she isn't too busy. Sometimes I make a new friend. That happened yesterday. I fell into conversation with a young woman named Rachel who has been coming for a while. Turns out she knows lots of people at Biola, teachers of Lydia's. She loves Jesus. I made a new friend. I met another sister.

remodeling

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

mudpies or sand castles


"If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
C.S. Lewis

Friday, February 12, 2010

seasons


Spring is sprung.
The grass is 'riz.
I wonder where
The birdies is.
Thank you, Grandpa Art!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

the outline of the Gospel of John as it relates to the Tabernacle

This comes from a book called "Through New Eyes" by James Jordan.

The chapter in which the outline is found is discussing Jesus as the Tabernacle - how He is the embodiment of all the "furniture" and function of the Tabernacle. Then Jordan diverts his comments for a while to show how the Tabernacle itself is the pattern John uses as the outline for his gospel.

"The Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." The reference to glory is to the glory-cloud that filled the Tabernacle and was enthroned in it.
John begins where the priest would begin, with the laver of cleansing. Here the priest would wash himself and also the sacrifice before offering it. Jesus is both priest and sacrifice, and also the one who washes His living sacrifices, the Church.
Thus, John 1:18 - 34 concerns the baptism of John the Forerunner.
In John 2:1-11, at a wedding Jesus takes water out of "six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification" and turns it into wine.
In John 2:13-25, Jesus cleanses the Temple.
In John 3:1-21, Nicodemus engages Jesus in a discussion of the new birth, of water and the Spirit.
In John 3:22-36, John's baptism leads to an argument over purification, and a discussion of Jesus as the Bridegroom.
In John 4:1-42, Jesus presents Himeslf as Bridegroom to a Samaritan woman at a well In John 4:46-54, Jesus restores a dying boy to life at "Cana fo Galilee, where He had made the water wine" (4:46).
In John 5:1-47, Jesus heals a man at the pool of Bethesda, and then gets in to a discussion with the Jews about resurrection. This concludes John's section on the laver, which has revolved around water, purification, baptism, resurrection, and Christ as Bridegroom.
John then turns to the Table of Showbread. In John 6, Jesus feeds the five thousand, calls Himself "the bread of life", and tells the people that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood (v.53).
In John 7, Jesus presents Himself as the drink of life (v37), recalling the libations that went with the showbread and meal offerings.

The Lampstand comes next. Jesus presents Himself as the light of the world in John 8.
In John 9, Jesus heals a blind man.
In John 10, Jesus presents Himself as the Good Shepherd. The connection of this to the Lampstand lies in the fact that David was the Good Shepherd of the Old Covenant, and the Bible repeatedly speaks of David as a lamp (2 Sam. 21:17; I Kings 11:36; 15:4...) There is a conceptual parallel between a lamp shining in dark place and the voice of the shepherd heard by the sheep.
In John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus, explaining that it is a matter of awakening him from darkness and sleep to light and day. In John 12, Jesus comments that those who had not believed in him were blind, but that those who did believe would become sons of light.

Starting in John 13, we move throught these items of furniture a second time. Jesus washes the disciples' feet; breaks bread with them; moves into a discussion of the Holy Sprit, the ultimate archetype of the seven lamps in the Tabernacle. After this, Jesus prays His high priestly prayer at the altar of incense - concluding the re-cap in John 17.

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus involved a double motion, in terms of the Tabernacle. The sacrifice was made outside the Tabernacle in the courtyard on the altar. Then, on the day of atonement the High Priest took the blood into the Most Holy and presented it before the Throne of God (Lev. 16:15). Just so, we see the Lamb of God sacrificed outside the gate, and then He presents His Death before the Father's throne (Heb. 9:7, 23-26) Under the law, when the High Priest came back out from the Most Holy, still alive, it was a sign that God had accepted the sacrifice. The Resurrection of Jesus fulfills that type.
Also, when the High Priest offfered the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, he put aside his garments of glory and beauty and wore a simple linen garment. Agreeably, when Peter entered the tomb, "he beheld the linen wrappings lying there" (John 20:6), because Jesus had put back on His garments of Glory and beauty (Lev. 16:4, 23-24).

When Mary Magdalene looked into the tomb, "she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying" (John 21:12). Arthur Pink comments, "Who can doubt the obvious connection that the Holy Spirit would have us link up this verse with Ex. 25:17-19...." The tomb becomes the new Holy of Holies.
The tomb enclosed by the great stone formed but one more Most Holy Place, all the more so because here the incarnate Word was placed. Outside this tomb was a garden, a reminder of the garden-sanctuary of the Tabernacle. When Mary Magdalene saw Jesus, she rightly recognized Him as the New Gardener, the new Adam (20:15). The Magdalene, restored from her seven demons, symbolizes the Church, the new Eve, the Bride.
The tomb is the new Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle which had the Ark of the Covenant in which were the Law (Christ fulfilled all the Law and was thus - the embodiment of the Law; Aaron's rod that budded (Christ would live having been cut off from the land of the living); manna (Christ was the bread of life). Finally, it was the place where the priest would present the blood sacrifice. The tomb, when it held Jesus' body, was everything the Holy of Holies had been, but more so.

John is not finished with his Edenic motifs. As God breathed life into Adam in Genesis 2:7, so Jesus breathes life into His Apostles in John 20:22. As naked Adam hid in the garden, so naked Peter hid in the sea until Jesus restored him to his work (John 21:7).
Thus our Lord wrapped Himself in the garment of the old creation, and in His Death and Resurrection created all things anew."