Monday, July 31, 2006

Sheepish Grin

"God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction." Psalm 23:1

"Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, Hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture." Isaiah 40:10

"I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. " John 10 :14

"You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls." 1 Peter 2:22

As ankle bitters, we sing of
Mary and her little lamb
and black sheep and his wool
Bedtime stories tickle the imagination
with Little Bo peep and the golden fleece
we count sheep who leap
when we can't sleep
to lull us into pleasant dreams
of pastoral peace
But as sticky fingers grow
into white knuckles in driver's ed
the sheep somehow melt into
mindless followers
a sea of cottonball stupidity
when conformity is taboo
like boys in pink
and leaders somehow begin to
sport invisible Hitler mustaches
to the hormone-driven eyes
of the teenage years
and college only adds lectures
of left and right wings
trying to outflap eachother
but then
the lost sheep is found
and learns to trust the shepherd once again
a lamb at heart, you might say
that's when we step in with the flock
like a noble parade of heroes with funny hats
that's when we see the shepherd for the first time
like learning your husband of ten years
loves your eyes that disappear when you laugh too hard
and that's when we get our sheepish grin . . .
Thank You, shepherd
for bringing me back to my sheepish grin
Now, for the rest of the flock . . .

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sugar and Spice

"A girl possesses nothing but a veil and a tomb." -Saudi Arabian Proverb

"We must all work together to bing change to this earth. We must persist until every female child is welcomed as joyously as a male child." Princess Sultana Al-Saud, Princess: a True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

1 Peter 3:7The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God's grace, you're equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don't run aground."

Once again, what I thought was interesting summer reading by the pool has brought me back to the table of worship . . .

The gift of choice
prescious curse
loving risk
in the wrong hands
evil personified
but for me
a blurry black and white blip
and three words of elation
"It's a girl"
American sweetheart of the west
Forbidden curse of the east
Laos, Cambodia, Thailand
sell their girls like trading cards
China hillsides littered with dying baby girls
Midwives in India paid cash
To snap the spines of infants girls
Saudi women imprisoned by thick black veils
in 100 degree heat
Daughters drowned in swimming pools
or locked in rooms for fifteen years
for speaking out of turn
Lord, help them
Whether they call you Allah or God,
Bless these countries
Soften the hearts of the rulers
And thank you for this one nation under God
where I can raise my daughter
as the treasured princess
You created her to be

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Make a wish . . .

"This is your life. Are you who you wanna be?" Switchfoot

"What is your life?" James 4:14b

What is it about birthdays
that gets us thinking
about the bigger picture,
the whole forest,
each dot on the timeline,
each puzzle piece,
and stepping stone.
That personal once-a-year holiday
that as an adult
seems paradoxical
no balloons
no cartoon characters
no shiny bows
no proud faces clapping over the candle smoke
often just us
alone with our thoughts
and . . . our age
For the first time this year
I just keep grinning
Like I slept with a hanger in my mouth
No, I haven't arrived
No, I've not achieved every goal
No, I've not reached perfection
But for the first time this year
I can answer the big questions
with confidence
with character
with You.
Am I who I want to be?
Yes, because I'm chasing You.
What is my life?
I squint my eyes
over the candle inferno
breath in
and make a wish
that my life will always be
an arrow
where no matter which way life spins me
I will always point to You.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Leather-bound Cup a Jo

My first job at 16
an eclectic college coffee house
where my gruff overzealous boss
gave me a double espresso
straight up
I vowed I would never taste coffee again
And I never have
to this day
though I am oddly attracted to the scent
as coffee-flavored candles
frequent my home
and coffee-serving bookstores
are frequented by me
as I watch my Starbucks groupy friends
who cannot begin their day
until styrofoam kisses their lips
I smile and think of Your word
strong this morning
but it was just what I needed
like those
freshly-brewed discoveries
in the bottom of the coffee can
where sermons rarely find them
french-roasted parables
that awaken the senses
and rouse the mind
Creamy psalms that blend
with Old testament bitterness
sprinkled with sugary red letters
the consummate concoction
to defy complacency
and jumpstart the soul
with this perfect leather-bound
cup of jo for the soul.
And I wonder how many people
miss out on the joy, peace, revelation
and love of You
because somewhere along the line
they were given a double espresso
of condemnation
that turned them away from this amazing book
meanwhile they love the aroma of You
when they embrace their children
give of themselves
and fight for justice
under the safety of P.C. morality.
I pray that someday they will
take a risk
dive in
with all their senses
and discover
what I have found to be
"the best part of waking up"

"Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost." 1 Corinthians 15:18

"They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'" Luke 24:32

Saturday, July 15, 2006

What a Friend We Have

"God keeps an eye on his friends, his ears pick up every moan and groan." Psalm 34:15

"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer." Hymn "What a friend we have in Jesus"

Ok, so I have a tendancy to be a whiner sometimes
You know it. I know it.
But today I just want to thank you, Lord.
Thank you for being my friend
and picking up your ears
at all my moans and groans
even when I'm just wallowing
even when I'm just sitting
in a hand-crafted, cluttered mess
as I call out to You
asking You to help me clean it up
whining about how I got there
even then
you love me
even then
you listen
and provide the comfort I don't deserve.
So, no whining today, Lord.
Just praise
For you are
all powerful
and yet still
and my friend.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On Every Side

"The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them." Joshua 21:44

Tables have turned
Refreshed and renewed
the holy spirit came like a breeze
that caresses the curtains
with perfect peace
Now that same entity
You pulled from my soul
has moved on to my husband
my beloved
my hero
my friend.
Whispering lies of failure,
Consuming, suffocating,
and wearing down his strength,
creating a muddled prison
of deadlines, sleepless nights,
and an endless marathon of measuring up
an elastic jail cell
that grows smaller everyday
Lord, help him.
Come in and attack with your perfect peace
And help me find ways
to usher in that peace
On every side.

Friday, July 07, 2006

"You Complete Me"

"He was afraid and said. "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." Genesis 28:17

"When I died, I didn't flow through a long, dark tunnel . . . In my next moment of awareness, I was standing in heaven. . . the joyousness of the place wiped away all questions. Everything felt blissful. Perfect . . . Time had no meaning . . . As I try to explain this, my words seem weak and hardly adequate, because I have to use earthly terms to refer to unimaginable joy, excitement, warmth, and total happiness. . . Everything I experienced was like a first-class buffet for the senses. I had never felt such powerful embraces or feasted my eyes on such beauty. . . Never, even in my happiest moments, had I ever felt so fully alive. . . It was as if God had removed anything negative or worrisome from my conscousness. . . Then I heard music." Don Piper with Cecil Murphy, 90 Minutes in Heaven

"I Can Only Imagine . . . " Mercy Me

Wow, what a story
Our modern day Elijah
who caught a glimpse
of a million answers
the beauty we chase
and clumsily attempt to create
and 90 minutes of perfection,
freedom from the slavemaster of time
and the real,
honest to You,
definition of peace
a "first-class buffet
for the senses"
he says
I've always worried
that I'd feel
for the wasted energy
on the eternally insignificant
for those I love
who grieve my absence
I'd never measure up,
never fit in,
or be uncoverd
as an imposter
To even stand at the gate,
so undeserving,
so fallible,
so . . . me
But he says
You removed
"anything worrisome"
from his consciousness
I can only Imagine . . .

"Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now." 1 Corinthians 13:12

Monday, July 03, 2006

One Nation, Under ______

"Believe it or not, our founding fathers actually consulted the Bible when building the framework of this country and in the writing of the Declaration of Independence, and now we can't even hang up a picture of Jesus in a classroom." Mark Beeson (paraphrased)

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cord of our Consititution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams, Octover 11, 1798

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:9-10

9-11 got us out of our recliners
as we headed to dusty closets
to pull our wrinkled flags
from under old suitcases and souvenirs
to wave them once again
Yet still it became about us
lives lost became slogans on bumper stickers
so we felt better about doing nothing
and feeling a little something
My Country Tis of Thee
suffragettes left their children at home
and risked their lives
so their daughters could vote
yet we can't seem to find time
to make it to the polls
between soccer games and laundry piles
Sweet Land of Liberty
Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King
fused a country back together
with words of wisdom and a Godly dream
but our school cafeteria, our neighborhoods,
are still checkered with the past
Of Thee I Sing
the fourth has become about goofy headbands
the best patriotic T-shirts
with lines we don't believe in
oohs and ahhs at fireworks
and beer talk around the grill
Land where my Fathers died
my parents had pastors speak in their schools
but my students are allowed to skip "under God"
when pledging to the flag
And I could get fired
for teaching them the most important lesson of all
Land of the Pilgrim's Pride
As a mother, I'm a little scared, Lord
If we're not under You,
who are we under?
Let Freedom Ring