Friday, April 28, 2006

Field Trip

"And that is the thing about life. You go walking along, thinking people are talking a language and exchanging ideas, but the whole time there is a deeper language people are really talking, and that language has nothing to do with ethics, fashion, or politics, but what it really has to do with is feeling important and valuable." Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What

"Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't." Romans 12: 5-6

six hours on a school bus
the gummy green vinyl and
scratched out rusty metal benches
the black and white speckled dusty floor
where you walk on tip-toe to avoid losing a shoe
to the underworld of stickiness
that "old bus" smell that wouldn't sell
on those little tree air fresheners at gas stations
Some bubble gum-snapping,
Mountain dew-chugging,
talk over the ipod conversations
float from the back and turn back time.
The latest downloads, Xenga gossip,
and myspace conspiracies
In the cyberland of "he-said, she-said"
those inside jokes, and movie quotes
and 'had-to-be-there" anecdotes
all collide in that cotton comfortable
"us against them" cameraderie of finding themselves,
Moment to moment trying on different identities
like bands they never listen to
on t-shirts they always wear
in and out of the dressing room of adolescence
until they find that one that fits
all chasing each other's approval
like a dangling carrot just out of reach.
I, the book-reading, schedule watching,
been there, done that, never again,
teacher in the front take out my light applesauce
and spoon from the second drawer.
I smile and love them right where they are
It may not always be easy to make the ends meet,
Or live in the adult land of country club comparison
But it is always easy to love them.
So for now, I will play my part
No "cut off finger or toe"
just a listening ear--
So for now, I will listen
and, with You, I will love them.

Monday, April 24, 2006


"In repentence and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it." Isaiah 30:15

"In some we regret a well-intentioned but feverish over-busyness, not completely grounded in our depths of peace. And we wish they would not blur the beauty of our souls by fast motion." Thomas Kelly, Testament of Devotion

"Too much of your nature is exposed to the winds that blow on it. You and I both need to withdraw more and more into the secret place." Amy Carmichael

One second of silence
like the soft, but powerful click of a pause button
in the blanketing warmth of the sun
like a blue and yellow canopy of lace . . .
This should all scream serenity
But my throat tightens
like the white knuckles before some head-on collision
The tears dive from my eyes
like desperate prisoners of a towering inferno
Why am I so scared of silence?
Have You not commanded me to
"be strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:9)?
But lately it feels more like
"my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer" (Psalm 32:4b)
Much more "like the horse or mule
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle" (Psalm 32:9)
Only, for me, it's the tick of the clock
and the ghost of perfection.
If You truly "satisfy us in the morning
with your unfailing love that we may sing for joy
and be glad all our days" (Psalm 90:14),
Then "Why are you downcast, O my soul,
Why so disturbed within me?" (Psalm 42:11)
How long will I be this "leaning wall or tottering fence"? (Psalm 62:3)
But is there pride in too much humility?
Like some knee-socked, hand-rasing child
who steps into that role of "the good kid"
like an over-sized wet suit
or slippers three sizes too big.
So, in this awkward silence, I come to You
Not for some scratch n sniff sticker approval from you
But just to meet You Lord
To be like David where
"my mouth is filled with your praise
declaring your splendor all day long." (Psalm 71:8)
Or like Christ who loved others to unspeakable measures
and told us "love your neighbor as you love yourself" (Matthew 19:19b).
But You are showing me a new twist on the golden rule.
For if I truly treated others as I treat myself,
I would never be allowed to treat myself this way
for the cause of some martyred cake of humility
Where blowing out the candles would be like
calling my students dumb
Or telling Lauren she's a bad little girl.
My stomach turns at the thought . . .
But to be Honest, Jesus,
If I am called to praise You with
"all my inmost being" (Psalm 102:1)
I'm afraid you might be disappointed in what I bring
like getting socks in your Christmas stocking
or nickels in your Halloween bucket.
I mean, do I really deserve to be
"crowned with love and compassion" (Psalm 103:4)
like some sausage curled porcelain princess
under some Brother's Grimm, pink and purple sky?
Thinking, I looked up at the cotton ball clouds just now
and read how "You make the clouds Your chariot
and ride on the wings of the wind" (Psalm 104:3)
So was that You that just tickled my face with my hair?
Or made the tree shadows dance like flowers on my paper?
How long has it been since I looked up?
Since I noticed these little behind the scenes blessings
that hide behind all the frenzy and the noise?
It hit me just now, Lord
"like a high wall, cracked and bulging,
that collapses suddenly in an instant . . .
in pieces like pottery shattered so mercilessly
that among its pieces not a fragment will be found" (Isaiah 30:13).
A fresh start, a new beginning,
like a child born or lemonade after mowing the grass.
"As the father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him" (Psalm 103:13)
I used to think of silence as
a jury of stern-faced citizens,
sealed lips and eyebrows drawn in like a slinky,
Or some frightening reality TV show
starring me as the fool
who palms the camera to "leave me alone!"
But You've shown me today, Lord,
the blessing of a noiseless moment
Much like a trip to some far off, salty coast
or a Thanksgiving meal
with those yeast rolls mom and I make together.
So next time, there will be no tightened throat
Or tear-sticky cheeks,
only joy,
for I will feel You in the wind,
smile as You touch my face,
embrace You in the silence,
and finally let You love me.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Absence of Hunger Pains

"If we don't eat physically, we get hunger pains. If we don't eat spiritually, we lose our appetite." Gail MacDonald

"As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs for You, O God." Psalm 42:1

I just noticed a waning in my appetite for You and Your word, Lord.
A complacent, mechanical, slow-line moving automaton
that saunters over the calendar squares
like a child's half-hearted hop scotch on a hot, sweat-beaded day,
A passionate heart that went sleep walking
And somehow found itself walking the ridge pole of apathy,
Bring me back to the dear that pants for the water,
that cotton mouth, lip smacking thirst that only You can quench
and the sweet sharpness of hunger pains.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Poison Control

"So when you offer your gift to God at the altar, and you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there at the altar. Go and make peace with that person." (Matthew 5:23)

"Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die." Rob Wegner

I'll be brief tonight, Lord.
I give You "the Posse"
Those credit card, hoop-earringed,
horse on the shirt, country club,
convertible girls in high school
that called me under the influence on saturday nights
Inventing colorful, new names
for my goody two shoes existence
yet smiled at me in class on Monday
And asked me where I bought my Goodwill pants.
I didn't even know they still resided in my memory
Until a sermon on forgiveness
pulled out a dusty file in the back
I could see thier faces and silhouettes of speed-boat bikinis
with their pedicured feet propped up by beer bottles
as they read Vogue and discuss the latest 90210 episode.
So I give them to You, Lord
At seventeen and twenty-seven,
I pray You love them
as beautifully and deeply
as you've loved me--goodwill pants and all.
And Thank you for reminding me
of the importance of poison control.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Saturday

"I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man's mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God." Don Miller, Blue Like Jazz

In the midst of buying the perfect Easter dress for my little girl
And dying and hiding eggs around the yard,
You reminded me what this is really all about.
Thank You Lord, for a church that won't let me be religious!
A church that tackles a bestseller to reveal
the truth of the greatest story ever told.
A church where almost 3,000 people
will gather together on a Saturday night
to hear that same story that we've all heard before
in a way we've never seen before.

The magical proposition of the gospel, once free from the clasps of fairy tale, was very adult to me, very gritty like something from Hemmingway or Steinbeck, like something with copious amounts of sex and blood. Christian Spirituality was not a children's story. It wasn't cute or neat. It was mystical and odd and clean, and it was reaching into dirty. " Don Miller, Blue Like Jazz

"He continued with them, "Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet--it's really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn't have muscle and bone like this." As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn't believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true." Luke 24:38-41

Thank You, Lord,
for keeping me from religion,
sharp-stepping ritual,
and the false comfort of righteous attitudes.

Thank You for truth and humilty,
blanket-wrapping love,
and the greatest story ever told.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Prophet Hotline

"All the prophets from Samuel on down said the same thing, said most emphatically that these days would come." Acts 3:24

Somehow the jelly beans and marhsmallow chicks,
Baskets of goodies, egg dying,
sear-sucker dresses on little girls
And stores covered in pastels
cannot overshadow the truths of Holy week.
Revisting the stories of miracles,
footwashing, a last supper, a cross,
and a stone rolled away.

But the coolest thing is reading the Old Testament
and seeing the first use of foreshadowing in literature
as You prepared the way for the ultimate sacrifice.

"This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them - write it on their hearts! - and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They'll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I'll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I'll forget they ever sinned!" Jeremiah 31:33-34

What a price You paid for the "brand new covenant"
so we could know the Father "first hand"
and for forgetting we,
the dull and the bright,
the smart and the slow,
ever sinned.
With physical agony, torture,
we could never even imagine,
down to the last breath,
when You "wiped the slate clean."

"Here is my servant whom I have chosen. I love him, and I am pleased with him. I will put my spirit upon him, and he will tell of my justice to all people. He will not argue or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a crushed blade of grass or put out even a weak flame until he makes justice win the victory. In him will the non-Jewish people find hope." Isaiah 42:1-4

A stable, a donkey, a carpenter's son
Not a prince, a rich ruler, or a king,
You were always asking people You healed
not to tell people what has happened.
This is how you fulfilled the prophecy
of not breaking "a crushed blade of grass."
Your humility was prophesied years before you came.

"I will speak using stories;
I will tell things that have been secret since the the world was made." Psalm 78:2

The morals to the story, the parables of truth,
the riddles with answers that poured out your love.
The way You left us guessing
so we could find out who You are
even years before
and years after you lived--
Only to find who we truly are.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dragonfly (Flit, Flit)

"How long will you flit here and there, indecisive? How long before you make up your fickle mind? God will create a new thing in this land: A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!" Jeremiah 31:22

Lord, sometimes I feel like
a dragonfly, flitting here and there
where the wind would take me
Somehere between a pony-tailed twelve year old girl
and a purse-bearing, check-writing wife and mother.
Somewhere between cold steel confidence
and a bubbling liquid of misgivings.
Somewhere between a pencil in your hair teacher
and a pencil on the paper poet.
Somewhere between a fast-stepping working woman
and a swing-pushing, block-stacking, stay-at-home mom.
Somewhere between the faithful "will be's" and the "trust me's"
and the fearfull "What if's" and the "who knows".
Lord, I fly to you to become a transformed woman
of a transforming God.
Goodbye to fickle fortune and the sounds of flit, flit.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Daddy's Little Girl

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name." Ephesians 3:14-15

I was once did a Bible study by Beth Moore where she explained how your relationship to your father can affect your image of God and therefore the depth of your faith. I saw many of the women in my group struggle through this chapter as silhouttes of distant, critical, and rejecting fathers returned to their minds to tug at their hearts. All I could offer was sympathy, but empathy was beyond my scope of experience. Like my own little girl, I was blessed with a daddy who was never critical or rejecting but only sought to treasure me for exactly the little girl God made me to be. I hadn't realized the advantage of this until that night in Texas four years ago. Now, as I watch Lauren with Cody and on those rare visits with my dad, I thank You again Lord, for the blessings of men in my life who have shown me the true love of a father and helped me to get to know You a little better. Thank You for my Dad and Cody who help "Thy kingdom come" as they bring the phrase "Abba father" to life here on earth.