Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Hero and His Critic

"Sometimes as wives we are more inclined to concentrate on what our husbands are doing wrong than on what they are doing right. We are more aware of their deficiencies than areas where they excel . . . Remember that we vowed in our wedding ceremony "to love and to cherish till death do us part." Do we even understand what we promised to do? To cherish means to hold dear, to care for tenderly or to nurture, to cling fondly to or to treat as precious."
~ Carolyn Mahaney, Feminine Appeal

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Phil 4:8

The Hero and His Critic

I did it again
I fell into the trap
One little thing
And I'm ready to snap.
There's so much joy
So much blessing
Yet I'm complaining
About salad dressing.
My sinful quest for perfection
My worry of how things appear
Has oozed its way into my soul
And hurt the one most dear.
He is a hero
He is noble and true
Yet I huff and puff
When I trip over his shoe.
He fights for the family
Works his fingers to the bone
Yet I leave haughty messages
When he forgets his cell phone.
He tells me he loves me
And kisses my neck
Yet I sigh and remind him
He forgot to write the checks.
He is full of creativity
Dreams, goals and wishes
Yet I whine about socks on the floor
And those few left-out dishes.
He plays with our daughter
Dances around to make her laugh
Yet when I get home I point out
She didn't get her bath.
He has secret victories
Over pride, lust, and greed
Yet I grumble on
About my own selfish needs.
He chases after and schemes
Of ways to make me smile
Yet I continue to nitpick
And nag him all the while.
I know he is a great man
I know I'm so fortunate
But why don't I tell him?
Why don't I say it?
Why do I choose to focus
On this one percent?
When the other ninety-nine
Deserves acknowledgement?
Sure it isn't everyday
But why do I do this at all?
How do I look past his virtues
To spotlight his very few flaws?
Lord, save me from this pattern
With the guise of perfection
For this is nothing more than sin
And a powerful addiction.
Help me sober up
Change my heart, and let me see
My husband as you see Him
For in this I can finally be free.

Monday, May 30, 2005


"If someone approached you and repeated, "I praise you!" ten times, you would probably think, For what? You would rather receive two compliments than twenty vague generalities. So would God." ~Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life


Lord God, I praise you for
The cross on which you died
The happy tears I've cried
The privilege of knowing You
The promises that are true
The roof over my head
The husband in my bed
The daughter with big eyes
The ever-changing skies
The church where I pray
The dawn and dusk of day
The parents who gave so much
The blessing of physical touch
The body in good health
The fact that love is wealth
The money in the bank
The gas in the tank
The friends who make me laugh
The difficult, windy paths
The students in my classroom
The candle in the bathroom
The wipers in the rain
The warning of a train
The blessing of a child
The million smiles I've smiled
The dishes in the sink
The opportunity to learn and think
The laundry in the pile
The people on speed dial
The home with temperature control
The river as it rolls.
The job and the check
The kiss on the neck
The breath in and out
The faith that follows doubt
The lips with words of praise
The hands to You I raise
The eyes that upward glance
The feet I have to dance.
Lord, Thank you
I praise you for all these things
So when I say "I praise you"
These are part of what I mean.
And when my words run out
And my thoughts can't list them all
I will praise you in the silence
And to my knees I fall . . .

"That's the kind of people the father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in worship." John 4:23 (The Message)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Difficulty of All

The Difficulty of All

Behind the safety
Of venetian blinds
I peek before I play
Look before I leap
Assess before I access
For I have been burnt before.
Some would say
Caution is clever
Careful, don't get hurt
Watch out
Be smart
Stay on your toes
But I can't do this with You, Lord
The blinds are transparent to You alone
Your inside with me
Pushing me out the door
Waiting for faith
A mustard seed even
A child trusting her father.
Lord, come with me
Take my hand
We'll cross the threshold together
Into the world
of danger, lies, deceit, pain, disappointment.
Yes, but also
Into the world
of beauty, love, truth, peace, blessings,
And people who need me
Like I need You.
Leaving the blinds behind
Let me run out
Searching, finding, and blessing
the "least of these"
Chasing, loving, shouting,
Singing, dancing, whirling in the sun
with ALL of me.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30

Saturday, May 28, 2005

More and Less

More and Less

More scripture, Less TV
Looking to You for who I should be
More faith, Less worry
Slowing down to escape life’s hurry
More praise, Less requests
Seeking humility rather than the best
More laughter, less attitude
Running from hormonal, excuse-driven moods
More love, less frustration
Putting aside those trivial irritations
More playing, less cleaning
My little girl knows this meaning
More encouraging, less complaining
A husband is for loving, not for training
To put it quite simply so I can be free
More of You, Less of me . . .

“Give yourselves to God . . . Surrender your whole being to him to be used for his righteous purposes.” Romans 6:13

Friday, May 27, 2005

Love Letters

Love Letters

When my love and I first met
He wrote to me
Poetry, letters, songs of passion
His handwriting drew me
As the trickle of a rolling river
That somehow brings peace in constant movement
Each bend of the river was new
Each rock gently changing its flow
Redirecting the path to new revelation.
I ran to the mailbox, expecting, hoping,
Yearning for more of his words, his thoughts, his love
I never knew such love.
But I did . . .
You were there.
Your love letters sat on a high shelf
In a dusty cover with pages stuck together
That smelled new from lack of use.
Or sometimes in a drawer
With papers I never needed,
Pictures I never placed in an album,
Paper clips, rubber bands, and rusty scissors.
Your love letters
Your Song of Solomon
Your Psalms
Your Mathew Mark, Luke, and John
Your Genesis, Your Exodus
Your Romans and Jeremiah.
Lord, Help me
To run to the Book, expecting, hoping,
Yearning for more of Your Word, Your thoughts, Your Love
I never knew such love.
But I did . . .

“Your promises to me are hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me!” Psalm 119:49
“Your words are what sustain me . . . They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me.” Jeremiah 15:16

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The 10th Fruit

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galations 5:22-23

The 10th Fruit

Lauren,my wise, goofy,peek-a-boo two year old
Who wears snow boots with tutus,
Loves adventures in a car wash,
And thinks ducks need diapers
Has added a new fruit of the Spirit
Now I see it all around, in God’s nature
Though it wasn’t mentioned in Galations.
An expansion, a new chapter of “Child-like Faith”
To love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness
Faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,
Lauren has added Playfulness- when life is . . .
Sing when you don’t know the words
Dance when there’s no music
giggle till you can’t breathe
tickle till you can’t talk
Blanket-flapping bird
Sheet-draping tent
All-fours barking dog
Arm-swinging elephant
Always Running out
Never Sleeping in
Tree Climbing
Ant finding
Sliding down
Jumping up
To and Fro
Tip toe

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Humility or Lies?

Insulting the Creator

I compare,
give worry and attention
to my imperfections.
Defined by whom?
Corrupt, lying, deceitful definitions.
They permeate the air.
Like someone smoking in a car.
I can’t escape.
I breathe it in.
With others,
I see beautiful eyes above that scar.
I see a servant’s heart beneath a plus sized dress.
I hear pain behind the attitudes.
With Me
The vision is skewed.
Faults magnified, on display, screaming
Stealing my thoughts, my energy
Added pounds, a pudgy nose, flabby arms
The wrong words spoken,
The race to belong,
Never measuring up.
With You
I am beautiful,
And my flaws make me true
I was “fearfully and wonderfully made”
You “knit me” in my mother’s womb.
And “it was good.”
You are the Artist.
The sculptor
The Master
Mold me as your masterpiece
Shimmering glass Angel
A Base of solid steel
Chisel grace in a soft dust of Passion
Fashion Harmony, joy, Rhythm
But balance the canvas
With the monument You see
Compose an original.
Smear some black ink.
Stroke hard.
Breat at Will.
Weld a pure song.
And let this piece be bold!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Be Still

How can I "be still and know" that You are God?
How can I turn off the noise?
Lord, help me to remind myself of the simplicity of Your will . . .


Capture time.
Live it out, through, up
Be bold in the silence.
Love others.
Swim in His spring.
Worship a Friend
For the moment and
For all eternity.

"Consider carefully how you listen . . ." Luke 8:18

Monday, May 23, 2005

I Missed It

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15

The other day, a student asked me "Mrs. Baker, why are you so nice? Other teachers don't even like us. What's different about you?"
My estrogen-driven inability to take a compliment kicked in and I evaded, saying
"You don't think other teachers like you? How could that be?"
But now I know,
I missed it.
This was not a compliment.
It was an investigation.
I had a chance to share what You've done for me,
Through me,
In me.
And I missed it.
It's simple.
I love them because You loved me.
Saggy pants, short skirts, fists up, heads down, and all.
I love them.
Their images are clear to me
Because of Your love in me.
Thank you, Lord.
Others see lazy, smart-mouthed teenagers,
but they were someone's babies
and will always be Your children.
They are more than a number
More than a filled desk.
more than a label, an absence, a statistic.
They are souls
and Needing You.

"Love does not measure; it just gives." ~ Mother Theresa

Lord, help me to radiate, recreate, and re-enact Your love not just to my husband, my daughter and my students, but any and every person I encounter today and for the rest of my life.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Opposite Day

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15

Teach me Lord to rest in you as I stuggle against the current and swim upstream in this world that feels like a world of opposites. Thank you for my small group that inspired me to write this poem.

Opposite Day
(August 2004)

Like Alice in Wonderland
Or a child on "Opposite Day"
My world is upside down
Inside out
I know nothing,
yet rely on my own wisdom.
You know everything,
yet I forget to ask for help.
You provide all I need,
yet I worry about even the little things.
I was made in your image,
yet I grit my teeth in traffic.
The television lies,
yet the remote is my companion.
You created me,
yet I search the mirror for imperfections.
Your Word is truth,
yet it waits for me on a shelf, littered with dust.
My flesh is selfish,
yet I caiter to its every whim.
The Spirit is righteous,
yet I don't turn off the noise to hear that "still, small voice."
Give me strength, Lord,
And Freedom
Freedom from Oppposite Day.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Circus Lessons

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks of "paradigm shifts" that "move us from one way of seeing the world to another" and that "create powerful change."(30)

As I begin to take the next steps toward You Lord, take me back to the beginning . . .

When did I make the paradigm shift to seek You?
When did I make You my own rather than a second-hand faith passed down from my parents?

I remember; it was when I was standing in Picadilly Circus in London, England.
I went to study theatre, but found You
-far from home, far from my new husband, far from the comfort zone that kept me luke warm.

And I recorded it in a poem . . .

Picadilly Circus in Black and White (July 1999)

Silver-buckled shoes stand
As the sun
While planets of traffic lights
Orbit in a carnival dance.
Precisely pinned hair
And a chic scarf of silk
Complete the illusion,
Shoulder to toe
Fashioned in midnight,
To stand out by blending in.
A man juggles fire
The coins of his life somehow
Weakening the flames.
I tossed that coin.
"I'm hungry. Please help if you can."
reads the sign of the gaunt man
in a black skirt.
His deep countenance draws
Only me.
While closeby
A queen's servant
Flushes a golden handle
Worth the money it would take
To send this man back home,
To warm wheat rolls
And hot tea with cream.
Back to her.
I paid ten pounds to see that handle.
An island drum
Pulls the rhythm of passing feet
To a court yard
To join the statues.
With eyes like glass in a downpour
When the wind blows
On the other side.
They dance like waves
That bend and pull
And depend on one another.
I begin to sway.
Two men across the alley
See through a different glass.
With flyers and a megaphone,
A cross is carried once again.
"Jesus is the answer!"
Far from home,
these words seem new,
I've heard it all before.
and time
and time again.
For the first time, I
Lost in the humidity,
Their cries descend
On another in black.
Her cigarette rides their flyer
For a safe landing on the pavement
Next to some charcoal chewing gum
And a crown of thorns.
The heals of her hands
Push at her cheeks,
As her voice transforms
Into a gluttonous cartoon character.
"Jesus! Jesus!" she mocks.
Fists of laughter
Pound the megaphones with
"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"
The men stand true
accepting my challenge.
Her chuckles fade
Long enough
To guzzle white whine
As if raising a spear.
She looks so confident
So thin
So beautiful.
the veil is lifted.
My eyelids bow
To my hideous reflection.
And I walk away
To Seek
The bright colors of
My Savior,
My friend,
My Jesus.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what god's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to everyone of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12:2-3

Friday, May 20, 2005

seeking worship

"The Father seeks worshipers . . . and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth." Jn 4:23-24

In Spirit and Truth . . .What would worship be like "in spirit and in truth" for me? - What is authentic worship that connects the unique qualities You created in me and gives credit and praise back to You, my Creator.
What is my finger-printed, DNA worship?
Poetry perhaps.
It's a starting point, at least.

If there were no limits to my worship, no shouting world of expectations, philosophies, and judgements, perhaps it would be like this . . .

We dance in delicate dreams,
Watching the branches above wave us on
We break into a sprint
bare foot
To battle those who say
Play whispers weakness,
But for us,
Play is wisdom.
We reach for shadows
say the sun is purple
crush time
redefine beauty
And just
Let loose
Let go

"If it makes my body so cold no fire can warm me. I know it is poetry." Emily Dickinson

Poor Emily, she didn't really know it was God.

" . . . there are emotions and situations and tensions that a human being feels in his life but he can't explain. And poetry is a literary tool that has the power to give a person the feeling he isn't alone in those emotions, that, though there are no words to describe them, somebody understands." Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What