Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Night Before the Night Before


'Twas two Nights before Christmas and downstairs in the house,
Daddy is editing and clicking his mouse.
Mommy is breathing deep, brow furrowed with care
In hopes that the render box soon would be there.
The daughter nestled all snug in her bead
While visions of Build-a-Bears danced in her head
And momma with her computer firm on her lap
and daddy's clock screaming no time for a nap
When in my brain there arouse such a clatter
Eyes sprang from the screen to see what was the matter
Away to Paul's words I flew like a flash
To lay down my worries with a loud CRASH
For just as the spring will melt the gray snow
You remind me of truths I already know
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear?
A verse that sings of how You are near.
With tapping toes to have it all done and quick
You whisper "Go give him a kiss between clicks"
For two days from now, we'll all talk of Who came
And sing all the songs, repeating Your name.
"Now give up your cares of last minute decisions!
Out lofty goals and perfection precision!
Out worries of planning ahead with faith small!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky
I offered them up and freely they flew
My toe-tapping, nail-biting, and butterflies,too.
Then, as if twinkling, I smiled wide, aloof,
my shoulders lighter without burdens of proof
As I drew in my breath and was turning around
Down the Holy Spirit came with a bound
He was dressed in peace from his head to his foot
and with secrets in His eyes, He winked a "stay put"
A bag full of joys He had flung on his back
He knelt down beside me to reach in His sack.
He smiled as He offered the real Christmas story
Of Peace on Earth and time to give You glory.
Of presence that didn't come wrapped in a bow
Of good news beyond any well-written show
Of the silent night that lies underneath
all honking traffic and candy cane wreaths
Perfect desserts to fill up our bellies,
Santa's loud laugh and his bowl full of jelly.
A simple gift I can't stack on a shelf
And a story of love I can't keep to myself.
And closing my eyes and bowing my head
I was silent as that night to listen instead
I spoke not a word, let Your story work
Cringing at images of me as the jerk
And just like that baby in swaddling clothes
I can feel Your forgiveness and love as it grows
Then my chest rises and I sigh like a whistle
Guilt floating away like the down of a thistle
My lips parted to say with a faith beyond sight
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"



"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
Philippians 4:6 (Msg)

"One of Jesus' names is Immanuel. It means God is with us. It's no wonder the angels told the shepherds,'Do not be afraid!' You lose your fear when God is near. God's presence trumps our panic." Rick Warren, The Purpose of Christmas

Update:
Just as You intended from the beginning, the service turned out to be an inspiration to many, even a fabulous 15 year old girl named Heather!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tick, tick, six























"She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor." Proverbs 4:9

Lauren (crowned with flowers) Grace (mercy, beauty, or good will)


Every mother knows that ache of a fast-moving clock
but on the morning of her sixth birthday, it stops
as her life verse highlights the page.
a timeless thought, an intimate moment
captured on an ancient scroll
Solomon offering hand-me-down wisdom
from the man after Your own heart
a love for learning that surpasses
any physical beauty or earthly monarchy
beyond any temple he could conceive
or any lover he could woo with poetry
a simple request for wisdom
only to know You more
and all this before the Messiah gift
and the true meaning of Grace
long before her golden hair slithered in the wintry wind
long before those big blue eyes began to turn green like mine
long before her slippery smile and that machine-gun laugh
long before she fell asleep on his chest
toddled down the hall, played peek-a boo
and headed off the preschool
long before the days of sleepovers and bus rides
before she ever danced to the sound of her middle name
You chose to define, embody and tender it
to this paragon little girl of mine
whose wisdom leaves my mouth gaping
and whose beauty reminds me of everything You
everything Grace
in this fast-flying tick-tocking pace of motherhood
I come again to You like Solomon
a simple request for wisdom
crowned with a garland of grace
to help my -not so little anymore- girl live up to her name
and bring as much glory to You with the rest of her life
as joy she has brought to me these past six years
because in a blink of Your eye
she will be tick, tick sixty ...



"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men
[and even six year old girls]." Titus 2:11

Friday, November 28, 2008

One by One








I found myself humming a tune today
from the days of bouncing pigtails,
and seersucker dresses that sway in the springtime,
the warm sun stopping by for a fall-time cameo
as the humming vined into words
I didn't know I still knew . . .


Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your blessings
See what God has done
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings
See what God has done


The men deep frying the turkey on the back porch
standing and staring at the steam rising like the peace in their eyes
My mom and my daughter doing makeovers in the living room
as five and fifty year old giggles give and take in a teeter totter of joy
I smile in the kitchen through glass measuring cups
and start singing again, the verses stirring like the wooden spoons in my hands



When upon life's billows
You are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged
Thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings
Name them one by one
And it will surprise you
What the Lord has done
This has not been the easiest year of our lives
we've felt a little sea sick in those billows
leaning over the sides, a little wary and green,
our heads spinning in the changing winds
But today, the waters are calm and we set aside a day of Thanksgiving
for the sunshine, and even the tossing tempests
because we held on to You and eachother
long enough to look around and see all we have to thank You for.


Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your blessings
See what God has done
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings
See what God has done
("Count Your Blessings" song by Johnson Oatman jr, 1897)

one husband to grow up and old with,
one daughter to love and guide closer to You
one family that passes down a legacy of worship
one job You hand-stitched in the shape of Me
and counting one by one feels a little daunting
like grains of sand on a beach, the clouds in the sky,
or Your promise to Abraham that star-gazing night.
And all I can think to do is sing
and think of You.

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you." Deuteronomy 8:10


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Overactive Imagination

We are a family of dreamers
A marriage of poetry bearing a child of play
Daddy's palette a silver screen
giving flight to birds that wing to You
gliding on the winds of epic violin soundtracks
or lost boys diving in the sand for Your buried treasures
with conga drums and those deep inhalations
the growing yellow firelight dancing in their pupils
Mommy with her head in the clouds
her hands on the laptop like a Mozart figurine
and her feet on the stage where she plays out
the beauty of Your gifts in the dim light of humanity's messes
a little girl's mind so filled with musical stories
they spill over like fountains dripping with rhyme
complete with twirling choreography and dramatic pauses
when all you need is a windowless room and a flashlight
to create a time machine unlimited by time
when playdough leaps from its plastic buckets into her hands
and is molded into a thriving metropolis
and a blank rectangle and some watercolors
transform into a 3 dimensional rainbow land of happiness
but there is an ache between the rainbow lines
for this Mama Bear in the Goldilocks tale
a daydream of "just right"
the day when my little girl's overactive imagination
will move from purple clouded glitter castles
to Your Kingdom all around her
from furrowed-browed scary stories in dark closets
to smiling shouted truths of the light of the world
from lamp-lit waltzes with imaginary princes
to dancing in the sun head back, arms out, like David
all alone in his beautiful foolishness
from side stepping, neck bulging songs of High School romances
to feet planted melodies rooted in the major chords of You
just a mother's overactive imagination
and not just for her
but for all the dimly lit faces in the seats
the day when their loftiest goals crumble at Your feet like castles
when fears roll out of clouded minds like a storm to sea
when loneliness becomes only a distant memory
a familiar tune without the words
all their pain blurred like frosty windows
so they can return to the fireside of You
and know that Winter is only a season.
Thank you for this whimsical gift
a house full of overactive imaginations
and a simple day dream of what can be.


"God created us with an imagination, and as Lord of his creation he can and does redeem it and use for the work of the kingdom of God. . . . some have an 'overactive imagination,' as we say and they can concoct all kinds of images of what they would like to see happen . . . .That is why it is so vitally important for us to be thrown in utter dependence upon God in these matters. We are seeking to think God's thoughts after Him, to delight in his presence, to desire his truth and his way. . . the common experience of those who walk with God is one of being given images of what can be . . . . Imagination opens up the door to faith." Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

"God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us." Ephesians 3:20 (Msg)


"Celebration isn't wishful thinking. It's escatological thinking. It's knowing how the story ends." Jason Miller, "Spiritual Practices: Celebration" Journey Bible class 11/12/08

" . . . by means of the imagination we confine our mind within the mystery on which we meditate, that it may not ramble to and fro, just as we shut up a bird in a cage or tie a hawk by his leash so that he may rest on the hand." Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Phillipians 4:8

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Michelangelo University




It started with a whisper on a jog
like wind blowing the twirling leaves down
to crunch under my nikes
something misty that became palpable.
It grew into a calling
like a quiet familiar song I strained to recognize
an investigation,
like that new project that feels more like a dream
and the disappointment
of what felt like a boat of adventure floating out to sea
and I'm left standing on the shore in the same hot sand
I gave up for a bit in the paralysis of a beautiful letdown
and a few mood swings, meaningless complaints,
exaggerated breakdowns in my gummy girlishness.
Then along came a hutzpah that wouldn't let me give up
like that teeth-gritting jaw clench in the last stretch
Then that final nudge from You
When you can't afford to go to seminary,
just bring the seminary to you . . .
Because every single day
I just want to look a little less like the mess of me
and a little more like the mysteries of You.





"When the great sculptor Michelangelo was asked how he created his masterpiece David, he replied that he just chipped away everything that didn't look like David. Simple as that. And that's what God does in your life. He chips away at everything in your character that doesn't look like Jesus Christ--all the character faults and flaws--because His plan is to perfect you in the image of His Son."
Kerry Shook, One Month to Live



(Setting: Living Room University)
Lauren: Is that the Bible?
Me: Nope, just a book I'm reading.
Lauren: Wow, that's a big book, Mom. They're not kidding.
Me: (holding back a chuckle) Yep.
Lauren: What's it about? Can I read it?
Me: It's about God, and sure. (patting the couch)
Lauren: (reading slowly, sounding it out) "We will never-- in this life, at least--understand God fully . . . " What does that mean?
Me: Well, it means we'll never really know how cool God really is until we get to heaven. But it's still fun to try. What do you think about that?
Lauren: Cool. (skips off to play Barbies as if to say. "Ok, YOU read that ginarmous book. I'm outta here.")



"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



"The word of God can be in the mind without being in the heart; but it cannot be in the heart without first being in the mind." R.C. Sproul



"God has put enough into the world to make faith in him a most reasonable thing, and he has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason and observation alone." Ravi Zacharias



"Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?" Job 11:7


"It was a beautiful letdown
When You found me here
Yeah, for once in a rare blue moon
I see everything clear
I'll be a beautiful letdown
That's what I'll forever be
And though it may cost my soul
I'll sing for free"
"Beautiful Letdown" song by Switchfoot

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Shoe Fly


Sometimes I feel like I fly with muddy shoes
buzzing around people's ears
dancing around people's nerves
in the way
on the fly
and looking for a spot to rest.
Landing silence may be a relief
but they just roll their eyes
shoo me away
and wipe off my muddy footprints.
Those days where I'm that chubby, half-tucked shirt kid
that waddles up to the teacher's desk
greeted by a furrowed brow over the bifocals
and told to "sit right back down, young man"
and save my question for the afternoon.
Or the mom who only becomes visible
when someone can't find their other sock,
the quiet insecurity mistaken for snobbery,
the shaky hand in a game of Operation,
the cowlick who can't sit down,
the daydreaming dancer one beat behind,
the eager drummer one beat ahead,
running on ice
sprinting underwater
one broken arm in a sling
and one difficult jar to open.
Searching for a speechless cave
where I can close my eyes
not say a word
and avoid all disappointments.
But then I land in the middle of the 66
with David hiding out in a cave of his own
Just a kid with some rocks
who got on the nerves of a king
chillin' in a carved out rock
with his buzzing honesty
muddy sandals
and a scroll-lookin' diary.
Placing words back in my mouth
and truth back in my buzzing head
like a shower at the end of a dusty day.
We both peek out of the cave
and our blind-folded pity parties
to feel the warmth of the sunny truth.
We are not flies with muddy shoes at all.
We were hand-crafted
by the one who lit up the universe like a Christmas tree
built the spiraling tower of our DNA with a steady hand
and has much more in mind for us
than buzzing and muddy footprints.
So Dave and I take long deep breaths
and sing like we're back in preschool
"Shoe Fly, don't bother me
Shoo, fly, don't bother me
Shoe Fly, don't bother me
'Cuz I believe in what I can't see"
Then all we can do is laugh at ourselves
Two bemused, oddball poets
pens dripping with gratitude
and a calling to write it down.
Because You won't force them
to flock to our caves,
we have to fly to them.


"The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven."
John Milton

"If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
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 139:11-14

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
C.S. Lewis

"He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart."
I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;

I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;

I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.
But may all who seek you

rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
'The LORD be exalted!'"
Psalm 40:3, 8-10, 16

"It is true that we make many mistakes. But the biggest of them all is to be surprised at them: as if we had hope of never making any. . . Life itself is imperfect . . . . Each individual thing is only a sketch of the specific perfection planned for its kind. Why should we ask to be anything more? . . . we cease to look for perfection where it alone can be found: in God. The secret of the imperfection of all things, of their inconstancy, their fragility, their falling into nothingness, is that they are only a shadowy expression of the one Being from Whom they receive their being. If they were absolutely perfect and changeless in themselves, they would fail in their vocation, which is to give glory to God by their contingency."
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Back


sometimes we forget
in our lofty plans for art that moves
in our sketchy dreams of beauty
in our whiteboard plans for the coming season
sometimes we forget to find joy in the crisp, bending wind
to listen for the clattered rhythm of our waving branched fingers
to see purity in the blanketing frost foreshadowing a stable night
sometimes we forget to keep it simple
to trust in You
to fall back
away
from
our
own
fall
back
plans
and
lean
into
the
cradling
beauty of
Your wintry winds
and just . . . fall back.



"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9


"I am always amazed that when I give God a fraction of an inch of willingness to follow, God gives me miles of goodness and grace. When we talk about guidance, we must remember that we are not the center of the universe. Ultimately our wants are not top priority. While God cares for us and provides for us, we are called to be part of God's kingdom, fulfilling the role he created us to fill. God is not part of our lives; we are a part of God's. But in being part of God's life, we will be richly blessed and well cared for." Valerie Hess, Spiritual Disciplines Devotional


"To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control." Henri Nouwen

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cornering Krissy


There once was a little girl named Krissy
who seemed like a good little girl
her parents smiled at their beautiful child
but her older brother wanted to hurl...
The poor little guy was just way too smart
for his own little two year old good
and as he grew his parents knew
he didn't behave like a nice brother should.
The mother cried, the father was puzzled
"Where did we go wrong?
That our little boy would make it his joy
to torture her all day long?"
As he got a little older,
his genius was put to good use
to find new ways to terrorize her days
while she waved a flag of truce.
He got a little tired of being grounded
and the lectures from mom and dad
then one night, a bulb of light
what great idea he had!
So the next day after school
before the parents came home
he pushed her in the corner and began to warn her
and reminded her they were alone.
He said the meanest things that came to his mind
He just wanted to see her cry
he trapped her in, like a grenade has a pin
and wouldn't let her leave 'til her eyes were dry.
"If you tell mom and dad", he said with a glare
"things will only get worse"
the fear was real, so she made a deal
and promised not to converse.
He wasn't really that bad of a kid
just too smart for his own good
He never touched her, or even punched her
Just didn't love her like a big brother should.
But his word was always law
from that frightening cornered day on
he had the power to make her cower
like a mind-gaming Genghis Khan.
Krissy grew up and her brother did too
saying good-bye to childish days
he said he felt bad for how he was as a lad
and everything seemed okay.
But there were still those times in grown-up Krissy's life
when she'd find herself feeling again
like she's back in the corner, with no one to warn her
wondering when it will end.
This time is different, she tells herself
still feeling like prey in a den
this time instead, she bows her head
and walks away with a smiling Amen.


"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." 1 Corinthians 13:11

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Highlights



I always loved highlighters
the secret hunt for main ideas
like needles in haystacks
in preparation for the review day
and the challenge of the pop quiz
a silent thrill ride
as I would roll my eyes
and pretend to hate it like my classmates
hiding my secret cravings for essay questions
and geometry proof paragraphs
but this
is a tough one
more like there's no needle at all
I just have to find the right strand of hay
they all look alike
and the barn keeps getting bigger
But that's when You come in
sitting with me in the cold of the barn
not afraid to get mud on your knees
knodding and pointing to search in certain places
and when these tough assignments come
I know You will always find me
guide me
and highlight what You have in mind
and in all my life
those are the real
highlights.


"Faith and doubt are both inevitable, but they are NOT equal. Doubt is an inescapable part of the human condition. When certainty is impossible, faithfulness is still on the table." Rob Wegner and Chad Meister, Reasons for God class 10/8/08

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.
Don't assume that you know it all." Proverbs 3:5-7 (Msg)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Owen It All To You

Jen and Owen Lambert -the Picture of Miracle


I'll never forget when I heard the news
like a punch in the stomach
that brought me to my knees
and all I could do was hold my palm over my mouth
and cry out for my friends and that precious little boy
who just days before held that same hand on the playground.
Mother hen panic as I forgot to trust You right away
that look in Jen's eyes at the hospital
when she said "I know God has a plan
I just hope my plan and His are the same this time"
astounded at her faith
like looking up at a giant
a whisper from a mother to a mother
and a glimpse of Mary's heart at the foot of the cross
but then
the blessings in the week of tragedy
a doctor whose name tag should read minister
with words of wisdom beyond any medical textbook
only the truth of faith in You
a nurse who stayed until three a.m.
to pray and talk just a little longer
and a family who held onto each other
and You like never before
when the power of prayer
suddenly became a neon sign
behind all of our sleepless eyelids
Why does it have take a miracle
to remind me?
All we need to do is ask.



"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:24


"I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go." Abraham Lincoln


“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” C.S. Lewis


"The Doctor and nurses say it is amazing and we state that we have been praying for this. He is truly a miracle. A week ago, Owen was not alive, today, he is with us and responding. God has shown us a miracle. We are still praying, and know that thousands of people are for his complete recovery. " Micah Lambert (Owen's Daddy) e-mail update Sept. 28, 2008 (Owen's Website)



"Hallelujah! I give thanks to God with everything I've got—
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
God's works are so great, worth
A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial—
This God of Grace, this God of Love. " Psalm 111:1-4 (Msg)



Update: Journal Entry 10/5/08
"When I walked in the door, Owen looked at me and grinned. It was a GREAT feeling! Although I struggled seeing his body struggle to sit and stand, it was encouraging to see that he was making progress. I have to remember, baby steps. I also have to remember that Owen is on God's time, not ours.
I am convinced that Owen will one day tell me of his experience with Jesus. I can see it in his eyes. His eyes have never looked more clear and beautiful to me than they have these past few days. When he looks at me, he seems to be talking. Of course, no one knows what he is saying, but I look forward to the day that he says, Daddy, why were you worried? Jesus was right there with me the whole time I was in the water. I know that Owen is making a difference in my life as well as others. I know God has something tremendous planned for his life. Although I can't see it now, I must trust that in God's time, I will see what it is." Micah Lambert

Friday, September 19, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake


"My Dear Wormwood,
. . . You will notice that we have got them completely fogged about the meaning of the word 'real'. They tell each other, of some great spiritual experience, 'All that really happened was that you heard some music in a lighted building'; here 'real' means the bare physical facts, separated from the other elements in the experience they actually had. On the other hand, they will also say 'It's all very well discussing that high dive as you sit here in an armchair, but wait till you get up there and see what it's really like'; here 'real' is being used in the opposite sense to mean, not the physical facts but the emotional effects those facts will have on the human consciousness. Either application of the word could be defended, but our business is to keep the two going at once so that the emotional value of the word 'real' can be placed on one side of the account, now on the other, as it happens to suit us. The general rule which we have now pretty well established among them is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are 'real' while the spiritual elements are 'subjective' . . . Thus in birth, the blood and pain are 'real', the rejoicing a mere subjective point of view . . . The creatures are always accusing one another of wanting "to eat the cake and have it"; but thanks to our labours they are more often in the predicament of paying for the cake, and not eating it . . .
Your Affectionate Uncle,
Screwtape"
-C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


mr. insomnia stopped by for a visit again
reminding me to make good use of our time together
urging me to give up sleep for more needed reflection
time to paint the reality of the last two days
as You hold out the pallette, letting me choose the colors
first instinct is to sit up and wince
at some lost dream of perfection
cues missed, technology ghosts, that look in my volunteers eyes
that said . . . "but we practiced it perfectly . . . "
and that embarrassing moment my mind keeps turning over
like those loud industrial dryers at the laundromat
I've never had a screaming coach, a sarcastic heckler,
or a stage mother who counts calories
and uses starch on everything
but You and I both know--it's worse
it's the monster inside my head
and I rub my eyes a little too hard
like trying to erase the wrong answer on a scantron
and you rip a hole in the paper
and I cry out to you as my hand shakes
holding the brush to the canvas
but then
there it is
Your gentle whisper reminders of the beautiful reality
that in my mourning over flawless plans
You had something better in mind all along
something better than perfection
something real
a sticky holy spirit humidity
everyone in the room could feel, touch, breathe in
and take home with them
still soaking in way beneath the skin
the thighs of our jeans trickled with tears
as time had stolen the dreams of Your promises
but we chased them down today mob style
to reclaim our rights to the joyous burden
of that great commisssion
and it's simplicity
that can feel so complicated
so we get back in the game with new passion
passion that is real
as real as paint on a canvas
or a cake that crumbles and sticks to the roof of our mouths
as real as the lyrics we heard with more than our ears
Because "after night
comes the light
dawn is here
it’s a new day
everything will change
things will never be the same
we will never be the same
Oh, The glory of it all is
You came here
for the rescue of us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all."



"Balance is not a goal. Someone who is balanced is standing still. You don't want to be balanced, you need to be leaning. Lean into your marriage. Lean into your relationships. Lean into God. People say, 'But if I'm leaning, I might fall down.' Yeah, that's right. It's risky. You might fall down sometimes." Mark Beeson "Stop Talking" Innovate Conference 08


"Between the promise and the payoff, there is always a process. We forget the promise, and forfeit the payoff because we’ve fainted in the process. But what if the process is what it's all about?"


"We have point of view. God has view."
Madelaine Le'Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art


“The Gospel is not only to save souls…it is to save ‘wholes.’ The Gospel is not only verbal proclamation. That is not incorrect; that is incomplete! We must bring up there down here! Demonstration proclamation transforms! We don’t just give a hand-out…we give a hand-up!” Rob Wegner, "Missional Moves" Innovate Conference 2008

"Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-10 (Msg)




Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bowstring Prayer




these are flight of the bumblebee rhythm days
and our arms are getting tired
but all we can feel is our passion for the music
the beauty of painting You in new ways
a simple bowstring prayer
in my frenzied fatigue
Let us keep our eyes so fixed on You
so that our arms forget to be tired
and the melody of You takes over
and our toes even start to tap
For You are the true innovator
the giver of all inspiration
and the writer of our melody
let it all be for the glory of You.


"Work. Prayer. As with all life, it is a rhythm; tension, release; tension, release. Work, discipline, obedience; pull the bowstring taut, and then let go . . . The balance of the tension and release is somewhat like that of a violin; the strings must be taut before they will play, but if they are not released, they will break . . . The balance is, as always, delicate. We seldom find the center. We are constantly falling off one side of the other. But the center is always there, waiting for us to discover it . . . It is another of those things which does not belong in the realm of do-it-yourself. But it does make a difference. It is part of my becoming Christian--for it is never fait accompli; it is always a becoming." Madelaine L'Engle, Walking on Water


"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." Romans 8:26

Monday, September 08, 2008

Abba Sneak Peeks










baptism photos by Sarah Koutz

sometimes I wonder about Your Father-Son talks
how You look into each other's eyes
the give and take and give
and then I get these little sneak peeks
of what the love of Abba father looks like
on earth as it is in heaven
my family in a hammock
or a slow dance on the porch
looking into Daddy's eyes
that say a million "You're so pretty"s
and "I'm a lucky daddy"s all at once
then my friends in a private public moment
three little girls looking into Daddy's eyes
for the three most important questions of their lives
above the marriage proposals we all hope won't come too soon
then Your underwater embrace
and up through the looking glass surface
like a kiss on the forehead
hugs from mommy and daddy
and the cheers in the sunny faces
and I pray
because sunny days don't last forever
as they grow, the winters will come
and I pray
they will always remember the warmth of Abba
on earth as it is in Heaven
and I look up, blinking bliss drops into my tissues
to look into my daddy's eyes
and say thank You
for a few sneak peeks of Agape
in three daddies'
Abba eyes


For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." Galatians 4:6

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hearing Test

"Potential" from eyemotion on Vimeo.





It was a suck in through the teeth moment
hands over my eyes Spock style
peeking through one pirate eye cringe
like that dream where you go to school in your underwear
the risk of listening to You
and following through
when I wound the clock
my wounds on display
praying that it will never be
about a cool piece in a service
but a new peace in their hearts
as someone looked down and opened up to say "Me, too"
while pointing up to You in a broken hallelujah
like laughing at all of Peter's fumbling
and sinking and back-pedaling
then silence in the power of that Pentecost speech
when you took his failures
and began a revolution
I'll never be a revolutionary
but I'm determined to listen for You
whether I fail or succeed
and both are inevitable in this rubber band life
Thank You for my brilliant husband
who is listening along side me
who inherited Your storytelling gene
in a way that still takes my breath away
too bad there weren't silver screens on those hillsides of Yours
You took what they knew-- seeds, harvest
wages at the end of a long day
to bring them to the truth of You
and that's all we really want in all this
so here we are, Lord
waiting, wounded, wound up
and ready to hear
what's next




1. WOUND
Function: noun , an injury to the body (as from violence, accident, or surgery) or a mental or emotional hurt or blow.

"Wounds. By his wounds we are healed. But they are our wounds, too, and until we have been healed we do not know what wholeness is. The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort toward wholeness . . . It is a listening, unself-conscious love, and many artists who are incapable of this in their daily living are able to find it as they listen to their work, that work which binds our wounds and heals us and helps us toward wholeness . . . But it is not only our hurts which we are required to give over but our wholeness, too. It must all be his."
Madelaine L'Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art



2. WOUND
Funtion: verb, past participle of the verb wind, as in to wind a clock.

"We must daily keep things wound; that is, we must pray when prayer seems dry as dust; we must write when we are physically tired, when our hearts are heavy, when our bodies are in pain. We may not always be able to make our "clock" run correctly, but at least we can keep it wound so that it will not forget."
Madelaine L'Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art



"Safety is only an illusion, and letting go is part of listening to the silence, and to the Spirit . . In art, either as creators or as participators, we are helped to remember some of the glorious things we have forgotten, and some of the terrible things we are asked to endure, we who are children of God by adoption and grace . . . The artist cannot hold back; it is impossible, because writing or any other discipline of art, involves participation in suffering, in the ills and the occasional stabbing joys that come from being part of the human drama . . . we are meant to be real and to see and recognize the real . . . We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are, to see through the plastic sham to living, breathing reality, and to break down our defenses of self-protection in order to be free to receive and give love . . . when the words mean even more than the writer knew they meant, then the writer has been listening. And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand."
Madelaine L'Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art



"I was reading my Bible the other day, and do you know what I realized? The main word in the word 'heart' is 'hear'. All He wants me to do is listen." Lavon Kil

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this." Proverbs 3:5 (MSG)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Heartburn


I jog today with extra weight
the image of a blank screen
stalker deadlines in the bushes
and a mound of expectations
like a high pile of clumsy gadgetry
that only slips when I try to climb to the top
and the cords keep wrapping around my ankles
and pulling me down like evil seaweed
the world feels like it might be caving in
but I know You too well to believe it
and I listen for Your truth in the first song
in our little love story soundtrack

"Is this the new fear or just another fright?
Is this the new tear or just another desperation?
Is this the finger or just another fist?
Is this the kingdom or just a hit n' miss?
A misdirection, most in all this desperation
Is this what they call freedom?
Is this what you call pain?
Is this what they call discontented fame?
It'll be a day like this one
When the world caves in."
("The Blues" by Switchfoot)

I bring it all to you
the weight
the ache for You to fill in my blanks
running to catch You in the wind
or following only fast enough to see You turn a corner
I didn't sign up for a one woman show
I need You
in every assignment
every moment
every word
every syllable
breathing You into their ears
until it tickles and they have to choose

"What can I do with my obsession?
With the things I cannot see
Is there madness in my being?
Is it wind that blows the trees?
Sometimes you're further than the moon
Sometimes you're closer than my skin
And you surround me like a winter fog
You've come and burned me with a kiss
And my heart burns for you
And my heart burns . . . "
("Obsession" by Delirious)

all I can do is pray
for Your words, not mine
to feel You surround me like a winter coat
and burn me with a kiss
because my worst nightmare is that it's just my words
and they are so few in this moment of fear
so my few empty words cup like a bowl
waiting on the Spirit to pour in
writer's block paralysis
from heartburn
for others to know You
or come back to make the angels sing
louder than my ipod

"There are many prodigal sons
On our city streets they run
Searching for shelter
There are homes broken down
People’s hopes have fallen to the ground
From failures
This is an emergency!
There are tears from the saints
For the lost and unsaved
We’re crying for them come back home
We’re crying for them come back home
And all your children will stretch out their hands
And pick up the crippled man
Father, we will lead them home."

("Tears of the Saints" by Leeland)

tears and sweat drops meet
in V's and Y's and hold onto each other
until they hit the pavement
like the two halves of me
meeting in the crux of
full doubt in myself and
peace in Your arms when I fall
like Peter sinking in the waves
and calling out to you
arms that lift me back up
and increase my pace
with the rhythm of the next song

"Complexity haunts me for I am two men
Entrenched in a battle that Ill never win
My discipline fails me, my knowledge it fools me
But you are my shelter, all the strength that I need
It's my will, and I'm not moving
Cause if it's your will, then nothing can shake me
It's my will, to bow and praise you
I now have the will to praise my God."

("My Will" by DC Talk)

I can hear my breath gasping
but there's no pain
only me smiling like an idiot
flying through suburbia
with no concern for communal proprieties
unaware of anything but You
a child running on the playground again

"Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain,
We're awakening
Here we are now with our desperate youth and the pain,
We're awakening
Maybe it's called ambition, you've been talking in your sleep
About a dream, we're awakening
Last week found me living for nothing but deadlines,
With my dead beat sky but, this town doesn't look the same tonight
These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And in all my life I don't know that I ever felt so alive,
Alive"

("Awakening" by Switchfoot)


The blank screens flash back in my mind
along with the blurred faces
of all who need to find You
the steps start to feel heavy again
that stitch in the side begins like a little flame
but I refuse to slow
because I'm not relying on my strength alone
boot camp training for the real battle
of sitting back down
to face that white rectangle head on

"Let the wars begin, let my strength wear thin
Let my fingers crack, let my world fall apart
Train the monkeys on my back to fight
Let it start tonight
When my world explodes, when my stars touch the ground
Falling down like broken satellites
Let your love be strong,
and I don't care what goes down
Let your love be strong enough to weather through the thunder cloud
Fury and thunder clap like stealing the fire from your sky's
All that I am hanging on, all of my world resting on your love."
("Let Your Love Be Strong" by Switchfoot)

the confidence gets overzealous and crosses the line
from free-flow faith into scheduled checklists
determined robotic item completion
the drill sergeant is back with my raging voice
reminding me of those stalker deadlines
and the shrinking clock
tick tock click
the next song begins to makes me smile
an old favorite love song
Cody added when I wasn't looking
but again I listen for you . . .

"Sometimes, I get so tense
But I can't speed up the time
But you know, love, there's one more thing to consider
Said, woman, take it slow
Things will be just fine
You and I'll just use a little patience."
("Patience" by Guns N Roses)

Guns N Roses . . . who knew?
and I grin as I turn a corner
You have my attention
You have my faith
You have my heartburn
but I still need Your words
all I've ever wanted was to bring more of You
from up there to down here
so people can reach out
to touch You, see You, know You
to share You
but I'm feeling tongue-tied
so You start with the words
of my own prayer
as the next song fades in . . .

"I need a sign to let me know you're here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
'Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup
When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you feel the world shake from the words that are said
And I'm calling all angels
I'm calling all you angels
I won't give up if you don't give up."
("Calling All Angels" by Train)

and I turn the last corner into the tree tunnel
the route back to my front porch
back to the blank screen
back to the calling
with old songs in the ipod
new truths in my mind
like Your water on my fiery fears
and I know the words will come
because I won't give up if you don't give up
and after 2000 years
I think we both know
You'll never give up on us
so neither will I.


"After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." Acts 4:31

"Henry Fonda was still throwing up before each stage performance, even when he was seventy-five. In other words, fear doesn't go away. Self doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as indicator of inspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it . . . The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death." Steven Pressfield
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

"God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us." Acts 15:8

"This question of meaning of being, and dying and being, is behind the telling of stories around tribal fires at night; behind the drawing of animals on the walls of caves; the singing of melodies of love in spring, and of the death of green in autumn. It is part of the deepest longing of the human psyche, a recurrent ache in the hearts of all God's creatures. So when the messages, Listen to the silence. Stay Open to the voice of the spirit, and Slow me down , Lord, came, I was forced to listen and even to smile . . .The Holy Spirit does not hesitate to use any method at hand to make a point to us reluctant creatures."
Madelaine L'Engle
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith in Art

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Preparations



"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe." ~ Abraham Lincoln

I love our little secrets
inside joke theophanies
where I giggle and cup my ear to listen
like playground telephone games
without the funny confusion
and the dusty rough-edged boys
who always changed it on purpose

reading Your word reminds me of cloud-gazing
where the shape of John the Baptist looks a little like me
a weird diet and What Not to Wear show waiting to happen
never really fitting in, wandering off alone
to dig his toes in the sand and think of You
somehow shy and a bold teacher all at once
he probably got those "What is that all about?" looks, too


our goal is the same
to prepare the way for You
I've always loved preparations
and perhaps my over-preparing was what pushed me over the line
from the "odd" or "special" column to the full-blown nerd
complete with home-made flashcards
appendix look-ups
and extra laps around the track
an extra credit junky
chasing the next fix of creative opportunity


Geeking out over preparing the way for others to shine
so they can morph into a closer image of what You have in mind
for them and through them
for my husband
the hidden hero
who is sometimes caught holding the wrong measuring tape
my daughter
who tries on things a little too big for her
and makes me smile
my family
who follow you all over the globe
and see suffering as just a little pop quiz
my friends
who know how to argue and agree
on You in a perfect teeter totter thrill ride
my pastors
who challenge and love us
with their patchwork quilt words of truth and grace
my team
who are so gifted and wise it freaks me out sometimes
and let me sit at the cool crowd table
my volunteers
who don't just squeeze serving in their calendars
but give their all to You


and all of this to really prepare the way
for You
and that cloud-gazing Kingdom playground
that whispers in my ear
and tells me
to keep loving You
in all the preparations.


"It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
'I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way
a voice of one calling in the desert,
Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.'"
Mark 1:2-3

Saturday, August 09, 2008

In One Ear and Stay

Thank You for two days of good advice
and follow-the-leader games
that challenge me to jump in the puddles
get my hands a little dirty
chill in the plans You've made
and remember to take some flyers
let it go in one ear and stay


"Listen, friends, to some good advice; sit up and take notice so you'll know how to live. I'm giving you good counsel; don't let it go in one ear and out the other."
Proverbs 4:1



"Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life. I'm writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I'm drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don't want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don't relax your grip. Guard it well—your life is at stake!"
Proverbs 4:10


"Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed."
Proverbs 15:22







"When something feels funky, engage.
Take a 'flyer' (a calculated risk).
They will never be rocked until you challenge them." Bill Hybels


"I ask myself everyday, are Jesus and I really interested in the same things?
If you want your leadership to matter, lead in the things that matter to God.
Some of us go on the trip, but we miss the adventure.
Something isn't right when Jesus' burden is light and mine is still heavy.
The first thing to disappear when spiritual health departs is laughter. The joy of the Lord is our strength." Gary Haugen


"Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us. It's in everyone.
Follow your compass and not your clock.
If you don't get feedback, you get blind spots.
Leadrship is not about having power over others, it's about empowering others." Bill George


"It's your own personal conviction that makes your leadership work." Wendy Kopp


"Making and maintaining good soil is everything. What kind of soil do you think people need to grow into the masterpieces God made them to be? Leadership is the act of providing the right environment for people to grow. But are you willing to get your hands dirty? We need to ask ourselves are we teaching more like Jesus or like the Pharisees? Are we leading people to see others first through the eyes of grace? If you had a masterpiece of art with some mud on it, would you throw it out? No. Jesus saw in all people a masteriece worth dying for. The pharisees just saw mud. What do you see first? What are the barriers to grace in your cultural context? You won't be able to recognize them unless you get your hands dirty.
The core problem of humanity is not behavior, not that we do bad things, but a broken relationship to others. When we learn to live in authentic confessing community, it heals us.
I know what youre thinking. if we invite these people in, what if they never change?Our job is not fixing or chagging or growing people, we cant only god can. We can only cultivate the soil.
Stay connected. fruit happens." John Burke

"God so loved the world, but guess what? He wants to love it through us.
When God comes back, that's the ultimate justice. But until then, it's just us.
Its not about qualification, its about being picked up by a force larger than yourself.
Tribalism is still a deep evil force that courageous leaders must take on.
Sometimes the storms arise because the high pressure of what God wants to do come against the low pressure of what we want to do.The low pressure of what's comfortable against the high pressure of what Jesus died for.
What if we stop making excuses and create churches that are sneak previews of heaven?" Efrem Smith

"To reach people that no one is reaching, we have to do things that no one is doing. But to do things no one is doing, we can't do what everyone else is doing.
You have everything you need to do what God wants you to do.
Some of you have an obstace but God wants you to see the opportunity.
A lot of people say God guides by what he provides, but we've found that God guides through what he doesn't provide.
Shake it off and step up." Craig Groeschel

"We have transferred our allegiance to truth to therapy.We look for what we can get out of it.
If you are a leader, your job is not to pander to people, it's to lead them to the truth.
If the culture's sick, it means the church is sick. It means the church isn't doing it's job."
Chuck Colsen


"I just learned that God's ways are better than mine, so I just need to chill out and let go of control.
Just show up in the morning. Get your orders for the day, and execute in obedience.
If I'm not in good shape, I'm hurting the whole organization.
I have learned to sacrifice privacy for accountability.
I dare you to pray "Bring it on, God" and watch out for what God will do with you." Catherine Rohr

"Moses was 'called' to do his job. He had a long list of reasons he shouldn’t be doing it. But Moses did the job because he was 'called' to do it." Brad Anderson

"Be careful. God might be preparing you, and refining you, by the frustration of this era." Bill Hybels

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bated Breath


I've come so far
to grasp the hem of the garment of confidence
to feel the awesome power of You
flow out into me
and dance in the role You've tailor made for me
but now
it's itchy again
ants in the pants holy discontent
like crossing a ribboned finish line with arms up
only to see another longer race ahead
because I can hear You
calling me to something beyond me
and I don't know exactly what it is yet
like a slow curtain opening
but I do know
I can't breathe life into others
if I stay safe in my breathless fear and insecurity
chin on my knees
peeking through the blinds
and making excuses
because the sun seems too bright
and I forgot my sunglasses
Thank you for two days
of inhaling the wisdom of women who get it
who actually live comfortably in their own skin
a clear picture of who they are in You
minus the blurring lines of the blinds
that big picture comparison game
that really isn't the picture at all
who have watched the curtain open until it locks
so they can dance in the warm sun
of all You have for them
I'm breathing it all in
only so I can exhale
with my little voice
to bring some glory to You
and find my own voice
my own strength to open the curtain
so others can see You
and watch the real love story
that has the only true, lasting, and enduring happy ending
of breathing in and
breathing out.


Gifted to Lead Conference Wed. Aug. 7, 2008
"As I listen to my life and tell my stories, a voice emerges. It is my voice, and it connects to people in ways the voices of others cannot . . . do not try to be someone you are not .. .Trust that God has given you a voice that needs to be heard and stories that will connect if you tell them with a spirit of openness, discovery, and reflection on eternal truth . . . be a woman who examines her soul and who is used by God to breathe life into others. "
Nancy Beach, Gifted to Lead

"The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you're thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he's thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don't have to rely on the world's guesses and opinions. We didn't learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we're passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way. " 1 Corinthians 2:10-13

"Wherever you go, your gift is not as important as your pursuit of God . . . Stop being surprised that leadership is hard. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. Obstacles are what your gift was created for. Seek a vision of your calling that goes beyond time and place, one the goes to the heart of God. . . You can't believe in the strengths of others until you believe in your own." Nancy Ortberg

"Where God provides a vision, he also provides provision." Teresa Hord Owens

"Life is not easy for any of us, but what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained." Marie Curie


"Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your own weaknesses." Mother Theresa

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sink Down, Raise Up




"A remnant of the family of Judah yet again will sink down roots and raise up fruit."
2 Kings 19:30


A weekend of legacy reminders
dressed in a whimsical pink t-shirt parade
a time to sink down the family tree roots
and listen for hand-me-down wisdom
from You
how You slip into conversation topics
like the rhythm of a cool, rotating fan
standing as the base of the family tree for years
with Aunt Norma in Egypt missions
with Cousin Kimmy Jo and her puppets
that bring You to children in ways only she can
with Amy and her new adventure of motherhood
as she extends another branch of faith
in the chubby cheeks of a little boy
with mom and her palm tree pain transformed
into the joy of trusting You
and with Grandma in her silent service
that can drown out all the bubbly teacher voices
with the power of her quiet peace and patience
that remind of us Jesus in ways we forget to admit
with each one of us in Your hand-crafted way
that we have trouble putting into words
but share with each other
in some common unspoken sweetness
I sink in the roots
knowing the nutrients of my family tree
will feed and ripen the fruit You are calling me to grow
and I thank You for a weekend of hymn-singing women
and cousins coming together
to love You
love each other
and slowing time as we chase moments
to sink down and raise up together
all for the glory of You

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Puzzle Faces



another whisper in the every day
our favorite puzzle past time
criss cross of limbs
to bring tiny pieces of cardboard together
and make something beautiful
as the dusty pile is poured
we dive in for our favorites
me searching for the corners, the edges
the frame to box them all in
safe and sound
but not Lauren
she scours the pile for puzzle faces
eyes so they can see her
mouths that can return her smile
a chin she can place as if to lift it
tiny hands she can almost touch with her fingertips
and I get a glimpse of You
the one who seeks us out
in our two dimensional
fragmented jigsaw lives
and pours us out before You
as we all pretend we can make it on our own
one puzzle piece with only a hint
of the real image to come
but You silently sort through the pile
urging us to see beyond the frames
the four corners
the straight edges that trap us in
our four walled boxes
and Who, like my little girl
just wants to look in our faces
return our smiles
lift our chins
touch our hands
and place a bunch of cut up pieces
alongside eachother
knit together
to make something beautiful
something You had in mind all along.



"The heart is a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be." Jeremiah 17:9 (Msg)

"The destiny of each one of us is intended, by the Lord, to enter into the destiny of His entire Kingdom. And the more perfectly we are ourselves the more we are able to contribute to the good of the whole Church . . . Our love for one another must be rooted in a deep devotion to Divine Providence, a devotion that abandons our own limited plans into the hands of God and seeks only to enter into the invisible work that builds His Kingdom." Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Birthday Presence


10:40am
July 20th
1978
You started something crazy.

They say coincidence is Your way of offering anonymous gifts . . .
I turned 30 on my favorite day of the week
Today, I walked into the church I was baptized in twenty years ago
and into a cloud of Monet memories I have to squint to see
when middle schools fears chased like a man in a Hockey mask
a panicked search for my true self
and led me to the truth of You
when youth group trips weren't just a new place to hang out
but revelations of campfire conversations
and candlelight confessions that welcomed You
in the glowing circles
memories of pew-sitting with my feet waving pendulums below
looking up from my biting fingernails to watch dad lead worship
with his hands up and eyes closed
then Mom would come out from behind the black and white keys
where she painted beauty with her fingertips
to sing with the microphone up
reminding me of a silver ice cream cone
and her eyes would close at a precise peak
and I would close my eyes too and listen
because it was all about You
a weekend visit brought me into a new decade of life
with mom and dad looking at me
and saying without saying that I will always be their little girl
at exactly 10:40am this morning when I turned the big 3-0
my mom and I were singing a duet
and I couldn't remember exactly when
I grew into sounding like her
just like the first time I realized we could share shoes
It was a song of my heart written by Sarah Groves
the perfect reflection of my own modern day Psalms
dancing with the hymn of my heritage
"He's Always Been Faithful" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness"
give and take like the playground swings
growth spurting into hammock prayers with Your word in my lap
the thousand in the crowd along with my bright eyed grinning girl
and the man I love staring like our first date
all blanketed with darkness,
my eye lids curtaining any temptation of a show
and I just sang to You
thanking You for Your
amazing
birthday presence.

P.S. I don't feel thirty, and I think it's okay.
I'll always be Your little girl.


"Our life, as individual persons and as members of a perplexed and struggling race, provokes us with the evidence that it must have meaning. Part of the meaning still escapes us. Yet our purpose in life is to discover this meaning, and live according to it. We have therefore, something to live for. The process of living, of growing up, and becoming a person is precisely the gradual increasing awareness of what that something is . . . Therefore this discovery of ourselves is always a losing of ourselves--a death and resurrection . . . not the discovery of ourselves, but of Christ." Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

"Morning by morning I wake up to find
the power and comfort of God's hand in mine.
Season by season I watch him amazed, in
awe of the mystery of his perfect ways
All I have need of his hand will provide.
He's always been faithful to me
I can't remember a trial or a pain
he did not recycle to bring me gain.
I can't remember one single regret
in serving God only and trusting his hand
All I have need of his hand will provide.
He's always been faithful to me
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
This is my anthem, this is my song, the
theme of the stories I've heard for so long.
God has been faithful, he will be again.
His loving compassion, it knows no end.
All I have need of his hand will provide.
He's always been faithful to me"
Sara Groves, "He's Always Been Faithful"

"I will sing of the LORD's great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations."
Psalm 89:1

Friday, July 11, 2008

Plug and Play


He wants to change
caught up in a fear and failure cyclone
ripple effect mechanical breakdown
he's trying to rewire, replace some parts
test some new technology
and research the DIY world of haystack needles
but he can't see
he's just unplugged
his old best friend somehow erased and re-sketched
into a cosmic santa claus
who doesn't need to check the list again
because he knows which list he's on
an uneventful Christmas morning to come
what used to be his favorite subject
now an outdated legend
of You as a clockmaker
who wound it once and walked away
to leave him stumbling through this world
to a tick and a tock that feels too fast
but there's a word that keeps popping up in his searching
a word he can't get his arms around
like a heavy box he wants to carry
but the angles are all wrong
Grace
I can feel it in my wiring
like a silent music of a song You wrote just for me
the rhythm behind my smile and subtle dance to my walk
but when I try to sing my song to him, all he can hear is noise
like him, so many could hear their own songs playing
if they could just
plug in
but I had to find my own outlet
I can't make them find it
but You can.
For three weeks
I'll close my eyes
belt my song to You
with Bono passion for his ears
and theirs.
And watch the light show begin.


"A desperation to change is not enough. In order to sustain the changes, we have to be connected to a power source beyond ourselves--a power source that never wavers, flickers, or leaves us in the dark. We have to move from willpower to the real power that comes from a connection to our creator . . . While our lives include many facets, our spiritual energy is more important than the others, because everything hinges on it. We're created as spiritual beings , and to develop spiritual energy, we have to develop a healthy connection to our Creator . . . We are created to be connected to a larger power source." Kerry and Chris Shook, One Month to Live


"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15: 4-5


"All we have to do, our only role, is to be the branch and connect to the vine. If we are connected to the vine, we'll be spiritually healthy and be filled with his energy. When we forget and start thinking we're the vine instead of the branch, we get stressed out because that's a role we were never created to play . . . You don't have to sweat and strive and work harder, or discipline yourself to be more spiritual through sheer willpower. You're not responsible for producing fruit; Jesus is . . . This is the key for moving from will power to real power." Kerry and Chris Shook, One Month to Live


"You formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You."
Saint Augustine