Friday, May 30, 2008

First of Many

Thank You for this night
this school that has woven Your word
into her heart
Thank You for
her first graduation
her first award
her first friends
and the many to come
May it all come a little too slow . . .

"what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done." Psalm 78: 3-4

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thin Places

"The ancient Celtics believed in what they called 'thin places.' These are the places where the natural and the supernatural worlds come together at their narrowest, with only a thin veil between them. When you're in a thin place you're able to catch a glimpse of God and it becomes easier to sense his presence . . . God knows it's difficult for us to remember that he's with us, so he does all kinds of things to capture our attention. We need to pay attention and look for those flickers of God in unexpected places."
Vince Antonucci, I Became a Christian and All I Got was this Lousy T-shirt

two weeks of thin places
leave me gaping with a grin
like a present when it isn't my birthday or Christmas. . .

when dog-sitting for a weekend
brought slobbery grins and a funny authoritative voice
that turns a five year old into a worthy master
all the while I was dreading the lip-quivering good-byes
that didn't even cross her mind until the moment they drove away
with his ears flapping a careless good-bye
As I watched her bottom lip jut out and her chest begin to bounce
I walked into that thin place where
there was a whisper reminder
that everything is on loan from You
we can dread the time to give it back
or choose to embrace it while it lasts

a weekend of celebrating volunteers
left a charlie horse in my face from grinning
still amazed I get to have fun and call it a job
still in awe of those I get to serve with
still gaping at how You place us all like chess pieces
and there it was, another thin place
where I saw You in the faces around me
learning how to love You even more
by watching them love each other

a holiday weekend brought a party next door
I caught my little girl watching from afar
That extrovert ache pulling her
into a world where she wasn't invited
a property line she couldn't cross
and the laughter of the children
calling to her like a siren
she would walk along the yard lines
marked only by occasional trees
but even with no fences and at least fifty sets of eyes
no one waved or winked, no one even noticed
and I was sad
but not just for her
the summer breeze brought another thin place
where I wondered how many times
We, the Church, can miss chances to invite people to You
because we're too busy throwing our own parties

warm sunshine brought out the sprinklers, bathing suits, and fishing poles
every catch was a celebration
but the pursuit was the real joy
watching our bobbers for our next scaly friend to admire
but I had trouble keeping my eyes on mine
because I was seeing You in my husband
in his zone of joy in nature
I've always loved his eyes
this grayish blue that reminds me
of an ethereal portal in some sci-fi blockbuster
or maybe the ocean waves without the cliche
I've seen them squint as deadlines and bills
tighten like a vice around his head and no pill seems to shake it
but it was only the reflection of the sun on the water
and the smile he couldn't hide behind his Mountain Dew chugs
Who knew dirty hands that smelled like earthworms could be so attractive?
But I chose to behave since his mother was visiting . . . : )
I felt the hook as you reeled me into another thin place
grateful to sit beside him on the dock in his moment of peace

Her last day of preschool
one big party for her and her friends
I dropper her off a little sleepy, shiney and new
and picked up a dusty and dirty crazy kid
renewed by a day of playing in the dirt with friends
a fast forward moment for me
she's growing up too fast
and I just have to marvel
every time I turn around she's trying something new
a visit to the playground where she set a goal to master the monkey bars
pacing herself, adding one more to each try
I could see the pain, the fatigue, and the tenacity
as I urged her to take a break and try again later
but she would not stop until she got to ten
her grin and furrowed brow were the cue to step back
and her hot pink blisters were the cue to step back in
and I knew You had big plans for her
then she'll say and mean these things that are just so wise
and she hasn't even started kindergarten!
she's moving a little closer to a companion every day
taking walks beside me, noticing everything and asking me
a million questions because she trusts in my answers
and we walk in another thin place holding hands
and I long for You to be able to say
the exact same things about me
to be able to look down at me
the way I look at her
I would be growing up so fast
that You would just have to marvel
so for now I'll just keep adding another monkey bar,
finding friends who aren't afraid of the dirt, walking with You,
and asking a million questions
trusting and listening for Your answers in the
thin places

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? . . .
By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42: 2-8

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Poker with Paul

I played Poker with Paul today
an argument of truth held concealed
in the hands we were dealt
and the thorns in our sides
Your word morphed into a pop-up book
a house of cards that will never fall
as I try to prepare for a weekend service
that reaches straight into my gushy gut
of insecurities
to face some secret uncertainties
just between me and You
Paul is almost as neurotic as me
so I peek into his love notes
that sound a little more like diary entries
All of us just kickin' back
and laying all the cards on the table
You have the best poker face
not the smug, cocky, I'm-gonna-get-you kind
just that look of
that confidence I wish I could find,
less like poker
and more like Go Fish old school style
a simple card exchange from Your hand to mine
and suddenly I'd be a winner
and You just keep smiling that Poker face
at Paul and his ramblings
and waiting
until it sinks in
it's not about winning and losing at all
just a conversation with the guys
until it's time to stand up

"Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold." 2 Corinthians 3:12

"Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we're at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident." 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

"So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well." 2 Corinthians 12: 15

"He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you." 2 Corinthians 13: 3-4

"I dont know about you but when I asked God for a sign and there was a sign, I thought maybe it's a sign . . . . Jesus didn't say to his disciples, 'come and sit with me'. He said 'Come and follow me." Have you ever tried to follow someone sitting down? It's uncomfortable, and you get a rash!" Mark Beeson, "Town Hall Meeting" Sermon 5/12/2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pas de Quatre

You met me in a week of dance routines
paper chain meanings in each of the scenes
a dance with daddy in the afternoon sun
Your Abba love lessons have just begun
melting preschool worries of fire alarms
as her little eyes close, safe in his arms
I long for her confidence to be in You
above firing line peer reviews
but in this moment she rests in daddy's love
feet on feet like hand in glove
as You gently remind me to let You lead
with a stone-rolling promise guaranteed
my eyes are shrouded and drip with a blink
knowing the wedding dance is closer than we think
then off to her recital where she glows with pride
giggling with friends that dance by her side
"we're all in this together" was the song of choice
And behind the camera, I can clearly hear Your voice
Lauren makes friends in thirteen seconds
but wall flowers never have to feel rejection
it's safer behind the camera or in a character's skin
yet much like a band-aid or safety pin
the next day she got to meet her first bride
her first wedding and her mouth gaped wide
at the pink and white beauty of true romance
then the music began and she couldn't help but dance
on the dancing floor with the bouncing lights
then outside with bubbles at night
zero inhibitions when your five years old
another whisper from You begins to unfold
it was just her and the music with not a care in the world
and I met You in the silliness of my little girl
for all I really want is to bring glory to You
even if it means some silly moves too
You nudge me again when her new friend stopped by
a warning against the fate of William Bligh
as their teeter totter play of give and take
calls me beyond my wallflower state
hand in hand they dance and run
when you have a friend, it's just more fun
morning dawns and the service begins
another dance that makes me grin
yet another beckon to stretch me more
thank you for my family dance of four
Pas de Quatre

"We've all danced the dance. The dance of the world is "power up" and step on whoever's toes you need to to get ahead. But Jesus came with a new dance. There's a whole new song playing. There's a whole new dance." Mark Beeson, "Space Invaders" sermon May 10-11

"I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful." Jeremiah 31:4

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Popcorn Parables

popcorn was always a family favorite
tiny kernals under pressure
blooming to puffy white deliciousness
microwave beat-boxing
to the sweet redolence that fills the room
or better yet on the stovetop
with mom's special oil and that rough, blackened pot
a few minor blazes that looked like little orange tongues
sharing my craving for sweet and salty tastiness
watching the lid rise as it overflows with yummy white ambrosia
this weekend was the women's retreat
three days of delicious popcorn truths began with a gentle reminder

"God has an appointment with you this weekend.God knows where you are and what you need. The divine finger of God will make its way through the crowd and touch your heart." Mark Beeson

and I lean in to meet You
scared of the one kernal that's been popping up for a few weeks
a challenge that I'm afraid is just beyond me
and might just be my neurotic, bee-buzzing brain
a word that just doesn't seem to fit me or my capabilities

"There's an interesting tension between the sovereign will of God and your will." MB

I'm always looking for the next class to take
the next book to read, the next calling
the next curve of the pen as you design who I'm meant to be in You
but this one is different, and the voices scream
I'm just not worthy, I'm just not good enough

"What would it be like to have so much confidence in God and vision for what God wants us to be that we would stay the course no matter what trials life throws at us? The question is not how do I get out of this trouble, it's who do I want to be in this trouble? " MB

but it just doesn't make sense
there's not enough time, money, logistics
there are those days
just enough energy to keep all the balls in the air
and everyone's smiles on their faces
and You might want me to add something new?

"You don't see an apple tree straining and screaming 'Apples! Apples! Got to make some apples!' Stop focusing on the fruit and start focusing on the nourishment and nutrients of Christ."MB

it just feels like adding another page to the list
that list that keeps everyone cared for and loved
and gives me a grade at the end of the course

"You don't need to check a list to see if you're a success as a wife and mother and woman of God. The lists were torn at Calvary. Lists are a way of whipping yourself for not being who you think you should be. You don't need to try to prove to God that He made the right decision to sacrifice His son for You. He knows. You have two paths. You can choose to stay performance-oriented or you can choose to be loved. Burn your list." Dr. Bob Laurent

living in "should-land" can be exhausting
and for a moment
I feel a little lighter
shoulders rising with the corners of my mouth
and even my chin lifts a little
then I remind myself who I really am
still feeling like an 8th grader with the wrong outfit on
taking the measuring tape out of the back of my mind
forcing my chin to submission to stare at my hands

"God loves you more when you show who you really are. God looks for his kids in the reject bins. Don't stumble over his outrageous love. Maybe you've been living so long in winter, you forgot God's calling you to the springtime." DB

How do You do that?
speak so clearly it can't be coincidence
answering the riddles of my heart before I can even voice them
but that one word keeps popping up among the kernals
and it just doesn't fit mousy, unheroic, simple me
who never really seems to fit anywhere but You

"God calls us to a life of adventure, not a dusty tour." Mark Waltz

I've always wanted to be zippered up to You
as close as I can, along for the ride
but this . . .
there are others so much more worthy
I just have so little to offer

"It is the smallest part of me that wants to find a way to you . . . could it be that you bend down low to hear a voice so weak? Will you take the smallest part and make it large? Will you take the smallest step and carry me far? The best intentions reside in a corner of my soul. Now I need some help in conquering the whole." Jason Miller, "The Smallest Part"

maybe humility has a new definition
with You as the context
maybe it isn't a child's game with clasped hands
eyelashes batting away the compliments
begging to change the subject back to You
maybe it's really about becoming a slave to You
in order to taste the real freedom
the confidence of a megaphone
to shout You from the rooftops
so others can find the same sweet and salty deliciousness
but there's that word again
that frightening Everest word that makes no sense

"Like Heather says, change is like going up a down escalator. But what would it be like to have peace despite the circumstance? After a mountaintop experience like this, you will find a valley if you try to do it on your own. The methods of this world are our will. We have to surrender to God's will. He has an appointment with you every day." Kathy Guy
-pop, pop-

I love our daily appointments
especially lately
soaking in the simplicity of pen pal Paul
his honesty and lack of perfection
like an embossed invitation to a party I've already been to

"You'll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God's master stroke, I didn't try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.
I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God's Spirit and God's power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God's power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else." I Corinthians 2: 1-5

I love how You answer me when I don't want You to
I love how Your smarter than me
I love how You flip a lightswitch in the dark places
even when I still keep my eyes closed
I love how You stretch me out of my cotton complacency
into itchy, chaffing truths that keep me squirming
enough to move me forward

"No one escapes the storms. Jesus offers one solution. Hear the words of the book and put them into practice." Rob Wegner, "Call of Duty" sermon May 3-4, 2008

so when the routine returns like regimented calendar squares
I'll just keep diving in the popcorn kernals
listening, watching, chasing the next explosion of truth
to understand why that scary one keeps popping up
and more importantly to stay in the heat
trusting in the pops to come