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