Three books in my lap, three spirits in one night
Your word, Dickens' tale, and a gift from You
Scrooge needed three
but the One You sent was plenty for me
Common truths fly up like rays of light
Three glowing ribbons dancing in the wind
until You braid them into a stronger cord
a cord they can hold onto
one that pulls them closer to You
a 4th wall frosty windowed night
where a dusty book from Charles Dickens
and leather bound gold-tipped truths
tip toe off the shelves of the past
and jump in front of their eyes
like the clocks they check throughout the day
a place, a time, a story
where scars are beautiful
success cannot clink in your pockets
and we discover that our low view of things
is really just a high horse.
Where we fall from our smug upturned noses
into the graves of our own pride
flailing down so we can look up to You
the One who frees them from all chains
heals as the crutch is tossed aside
and melts the heart of the coldest of men
whether it be in a tale of one night
or the truth of a blinding day trip to Damascus
I will brace behind You like a kid in a scary movie
praying, hoping, begging that we might all leave changed
and singing carols like fools
to wish You a proper birthday
and maybe for all eternity.
"Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the old city knew. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him. His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him. It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well. May that be truly said of all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!" Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol
"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes... and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent." Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:10-14
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
the thoughful details in all of His dishes
the golden brown, the perfectly round
and sweet blend of spicy delicious
"There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread." Mother Theresa
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Still designing new shapes and lines with eyes of intent
and a tongue out to the side.
and living in a world where everything is more than it seems
where Your Son is on the street corner waiting to be fed
Monday, October 05, 2009
"Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. poor Christians." 2 Corinthians 8:2-3
"Talking is a hydrant in the yard and writing is a faucet upstairs in the house. Opening the first takes the pressure off the second.” Robert Frost
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." James 1:1-3
“Pressure is a word that is misused in our vocabulary. When you start thinking of pressure, it's because you've started to think of failure.” Tommy Lasorda
"The pressure never let up;
all the juices of my life dried up.
Then I let it all out;
I said, "I'll make a clean breast of my failures to God."
Suddenly the pressure was gone—
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.
These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray;
when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts
we'll be on high ground, untouched."
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I take my curtains for granted.
They hang beautifully, faithfully, day after day
brushing by them countless times in a week
Keeping us warm, cool, and comfortable
The spot where Lauren's hands grab to peek out
has grown higher and higher with every season
every precious visitor who visits is greeted
and farewelled by a friendly wave between the curtains
like a gleeful puppet show just for them
But there are days, months, years even,
when we go to work, come home, eat, sleep, play, live
and never take time to think about our curtains.
Imagine our shock to come home one day to find them stolen.
Blinding sunlight in the day and feeling exposed at night.
We take our curtains for granted.
Like our own ability to see
our silent breath in and out
And all too often, Your great commission.
For centuries, the Church has faced snakey temptation,
the pull for pageantry or the desire for political gain,
and in the middle of our planning services, events, elements,
in our busyness of preparation behind the stage curtains,
We forget about the curtain You tore in half
and our calling to share it with the world.
Somehow brushing past You to sit together on Sunday mornings
looking to stay warm, cool, and comfortable.
A bunch of prodigal big brothers, smug that we stayed at home
refusing to come to the party for someone so stupid.
Well-dressed cliques who shake hands, wave hello and goodbye
never getting past our own draping-curtained superficial smiles.
There will come a day when the curtains will fall from our eyes
like scales from the blind man You touched
the day when You come back to claim those
who stepped over those torn curtain pieces
into the temple of following You.
That day scares me.
I know there will be celebration, healing, victory, redemption.
But I can't help but ache for all those left behind
the students I never got to share You with,
the friendly neighbors I never took time to get to know,
the hungry children in Monroe circle,
the thousands in India who didn't make it to the church plants.
the shoppers in Target right across the street,
who drive by the building like a curtain in a living room.
That day will be agony for them.
They are the reasons we get up in the morning
work late, have long meetings, hold conferences,spend days, weeks, months, years,
finding new innovative ways to capture their attention.
Shake us to move from hamsters on wheels
to your kids chasing Your dreams
of what could be and should be.
And help me to cling to that heavy ache in my chest
that nagging thought in my mind
that incessant pull like a veil torn
all the way to the final curtain.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
“Become the change you seek in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1
"If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" David Livingstone
Friday, September 04, 2009
a calling to sprint underwater
conduct an orchestra in handcuffs
or tie my shoes with my teeth
and, oddly enough, I loved it.
Even more astonishing, I was beginning to miss it
those metamorphosis moments
those wide eyes that finally get that they matter to someone
those beaming grins after the blank paper is filled
Then I snap out of the little misty daydreams
and find myself sitting in a puddle of guilt
painting pictures of Egypt after arriving in the Promised Land
So once again You came along
with another gift I didn't know I needed.
1 class, 18 students, and a breathless freedom to speak of You
Nine years of censoring myself
dancing with euphemisms like a monkey in a hat
An alternate universe
Where the power of the Holy Spirit was just their "conscience"
when Mt. Sinai's stone tablets
were buried more like tombstones as "morals to the story"
Christ figure characters imprisoned by "Protagonist" boxes
Epic parable allusions boiled down to "literary devices"
and the greatest story and theme of all time
was left unsaid, untaught, and raging inside me.
And those after-class conversations when I slipped,
couldn't help msyelf, broke the rules and mentioned You
only led to a trip to the Principal's office
and a peach-colored warning sheet I had to sign.
Me, the straight A good girl, somehow the new rebel in school.
Nine years of teaching in a straight jacket.
This one class at a Christian College,
when the duct tape comes off the mouth
the straight jacket untied, unbelted, removed
You're no longer the elephant in the room
but the subject of the study
intermingled and touching everything
like fall campus winds or long stringy spaghetti
when I can hold the Bible like a pop-up book stage
where Your storytelling brilliance finally comes alive
when the true theatre of Your word
meets the fantasy of the stage
in a mind-blowing dance of artful ministry
and I can't help but look up to thank You
for the freedom to speak my mind
a new playground to speak Your heart
for the presents of Your presence
acknowledged, unfettered, and arms out
like dancing in the sun.
"All to often we are giving children cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants."---John W. Gardner
"Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 28:31
"Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." Acts 5:42
Sunday, August 16, 2009
pendulum hammock swings of opposites attract
rolling us to kiss in the sanity in the middle
to meet my high school crush on the college boy
flashback squeeling around the house
writing in my journal to you...
"Dear God, send me a boy LIKE Cody Baker..."
like some 1950's Gidgit apple pie movie
with letter sweaters, going steady and
tailored ponytail perfection
only I didn't fit the flawless Hollywood plastic mold
in my freckled, awkward, ball of nerves bag of bones
so I kept teetering on the edge of my seat
waiting for the movie to end
anticipating the rock in the stomach rejection
like the white knuckled seconds before a crash
but twelve years later, he's still here
determined to raise a family, fix some faucets,
love my flaws, repair a brake leak, increase my laugh lines
and lead us all closer to You.
Our opposites can overheat and boil over
walking off in a huff and propelling deep angry breaths
but in every pendulum swing
every inch of space between
every dizzying sway challenge
our ying and yang will roll to the middle
cradled in our future woven by You
to kiss in the middle of a paradox.
"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years." Simone Signoret
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
"People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on 'being in love' forever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change -not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last... but if you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest." C.S. Lewis
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:31-33
"That quiet mutual gaze of a trusting husband and wife is like the first moment of rest or refuge from a great weariness or a great danger." George Eliot
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
That phrase is still ringing in my ears
"Mommy, I know you're probably going to say no to this, but...."
Her new favorite way of asking me for things
as if I'm that meanie mommy
hoarding all her glittery wishes
in my stingy matronly apron pocket
like a crotchety old school marm
complete with hunchback, hairy moles, and a permanent scowl
Doesn't she know I'd gladly offer my life for hers?
Can't she see the immense love I have for her
that spills out in little drops of joy when I watch her sleep?
That I look for new ways to bless her every day
Doesn't she know the "no's" come with intention to save her?
To keep her from the indulgent plague of a spoiled child?
To protect her from the lies of this world that parade as truth
tempting children with their colorful carney ways?
I wish I could help her understand
break it down into little chewable pieces
like cutting her steak for her.
And then I hear You whisper
A truth that knocks the wind out of me--
Four years of trying for a second baby
Forty-eight months of no's
The elephant in the prayer room
and I'm beginning to see
myself in my little girl's pouty swagger
And I can hear Your voice in my questions to her
"Can't You see the immense love I have for you?
That I look for new ways to bless you every day?
Can't you see the "no's" come with intention to save you?
Don't You know I'd gladly offer my life for Yours?"
And You did.
My little girl's voice comes in again
"Mommy, I know you're probably going to say no to this, but..."
And I hear You one last time
that still, small voice whisper
"Sometimes, that's how you pray."
"We want to know not how we should pray if we were perfect but how we should pray being as we are now....It is no use to ask God with factitious earnestness for A when our whole mind is in reality filled with the desire for B. We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us..." C.S. Lewis. Letters to Malcom, Chiefly on Prayer
"Prayer is a request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of the finite and fooolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them. Invariable 'success' in prayer would not prove the Christian doctrine at all. It would prove something much more like magic--a power in certain human beings to control, or compel the course of nature." C.S. Lewis, The World's Last Night
"Wouldn't He know without being asked?" said Polly.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I hear You calling me
into dangerous prayers
No more bless me's
and sooth me prayers.
I may not be ready, but it's time.
into what You had in mind all along.
make me uncomfortable
wide-eyed to any pride
face down at Your feet
crackling in that fiery peace
dancing ribbon flames
like waving arms to praise You
a soothing fever rock
from the scorching blaze
And send me coal kisses with wings
to wake me up.
"Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!""
Isaiah 6: 6-8
"Can't sleep. An angel wants to burn my lips with coal. I must count the cost....Here am I! Send me!... Make me a man of prayer! Put power in my words. Your word is powerful! Make your word my word, make your power my power. I want to be God's voice, full of love, mercy and fire!...I don't want greatness. I want you to be great! Lower me down. Humble me. Teach me to humble myself, O Lord!" From the Journal of Keith Green, Entry March 1979
"And I'm so filthy with my sin
I carry pride like a disease
You know I'm stubborn God and I'm longing to be close
You burn me deeper than I know
I feel lonely without hope
I feel desperate without vision
You wrap around me like a winter coat
You come and free me like a bird
And my heart burns for you"
"Obsession" song by Delirious (Cutting Edge, 1995)
"The people who suffer from arrogance don't know it... Pride will block your vision like nothing else. It'll make you a blind man or a blind woman... but the Holy Spirit can reveal truth to you that you could never see on your own. He knows you better than you know yourself...God, we open up ourselves to You now. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear. God empty us of our pride, so we can receive the flood of mercy you give to those who fear You."
Rob Wegner, "The Arrogance Trap" sermon July 15-16-2009
Thursday, July 09, 2009
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
Thursday, June 25, 2009
There are days when it feels like the wind is helping me along
adding a little pep to my step
brushing my hair from my face
whistling happy soundtrack tunes
and making everything dance to the sway of the trees.
Then there are those days when a failure gust knocks me down
resisting my efforts to crawl forward
smearing the salty drops on my cheeks
deafening my thoughts like a rumbling train
and tearing leaves to throw them far from their branchy homes.
Those days where this wishy washy unpredictable snaking breeze
longs to live like the sun
where everyone needs me
I never let them down
and always show up on time
when I can persuade the buds to blossom
and shine to make them all look a little brighter.
But that's Your job.
So on these leaf-tearing, mind-blowing windy days
I'll lean against the wind
letting the dead leaves fly free
to make room for the buds you have in mind
and just hold on
digging my roots into You.
"The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up in each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18
"..if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me?'...as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you...but the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearies by our sins, or our indifference; a therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him...The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other...You find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down...We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means-the only complete realist." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
"The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride."
"If you are suffering from a bad man's injustice, forgive him lest there be two bad men."
St. Augustine of Hippo
"He that demains mercy, and shows none, ruins the bridge over which he himself is to pass." Thomas Adams
“Although it’s true that there are times when we are merely bystanders in life’s ever-ending stream of head-on collisions, rarely are we completely innocent. More often than not, we do something to contribute to the problem’s we’re experiencing. People who are the best at dialogue understand this simple fact and turn it into the principle “Work on me first.” They realize that not only are they likely to benefit by improving their own approach, but also that they’re the only person they can work on anyway. As much as others may need to change, or we may want them to change, the only person we can continually inspire, prod, and shape - with any degree of success - is the person in the mirror." Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 11:2
Saturday, June 13, 2009
we have a secret, don't we...
like a wink no one else sees
or the sticky candy-flavored secrets
whisper in telephone playground games
but I'm afraid if I tell them the truth
and walk away annoyed and confused
like when a really skinny chick gets a compliment
but rolls her eyes and complains about her thighs
somehow cheapening her beauty
so maybe I'll just smile and say thank you
and keep our little secret
the ethereal truth that might only creep them out
after all, theophanies only happen in the bible
but the secrets bubbling up and steaming like a geyser
and there it is
the bursting truth that
sometimes it's not really writing
like transcribing a dream
But when I wake up everyone's singing my praises
telling me how smart and talented I am
while I wipe my sleepy eyelids and stutter,
clumsily trying to interject the naked truth
like a man lost at sea who passed out in a cushiony raft
and got home to read the epic headlines
of his thousand mile swim
I want to argue
all I did was ask for Your help
craving what You wanted them to know
our little sticky secret
that I'm not really that intelligent
that I'm not that great of a writer
just a girl lost in a sea of wonder
learning how to listen to You.
"When you own that you are God's beloved and not people's property, it will free you up as an artist in a way that sets others free. And through this freedom, the character of who God is will be finally and freely revealed."
Efrem Smith, "Worship of the Beloved"
Toward Wonder: Willow Creek Arts Conference '09
"Wonder is the basis of worship. When we, as artists, live in a state of wonder ourselves, then we are better able to usher others into the presence of a wonderful God."
Nancy Beach, "Toward Wonder" Willow Creek Arts Conference '09
"Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish." Isaiah 29: 14
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Lean down to feed the swans
Lots of smiling yawns
Nature serenading You
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”
Sunday, May 10, 2009
clandestine power veiled and caressed by their fingertips
like poetry cradling hidden meanings
nestled in a knitted hammock sling like a Fathers arms
giving secret life like the sun on a greenhouse roof
a pocket size reminder of your colossal love
something to hold in the palms of their hands
reminding their minds and hearts to cling to You
again or for the very first time
and I pray they hold on tight
not to a quick fix
a temporary high
some euphoric picture
of harps and cherubs
not to some pasted happy face smile
some whitewash cover that will fade
but to the new stepping stone reality of You
right there next to them in the thick of it
because even though they're different on Sunday
Monday is coming like a whining, rumbling train
that churning locomotive "all aboard!" inevitability
back to the same cluttered, argumentative homes
the same itchy, irritable workplaces and sticky red tape
the same four walled cells on the calendar routine
the same catch in their lower backs or aching knees
And I pray they can feel You with them
carrying them along like a stone in Your pocket
remembering little David looking up at a giant
a new sense of purpose
a new way to love their families
a new way to see their coworkers
there's work to be done
and the body of Christ just got a little stronger
bearing all those burdens and
weight-lifting all those stones
leading us on the same path as Stephen and Paul
who felt the impact of the stones of opposition
and following the stone the builders rejected
that became the cornerstone
who stood between all of us and a bucket of stones
a line in the sand, daring the blameless to cast the first one
and especially celebrating that third day
when the stone was rolled away
And that is just the smooth surface
of the hidden pocketed power
of those little stepping stones.
"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone. " 1 Peter 2: 4-7
"Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them. Cutting off a man's fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work." C.S. Lewis , Mere Christianity
"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... I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." Romans 8: 26-28, 38-39 (Msg)
"... the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God...the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us; just as the roof of a green house does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it..." C.S. Lewis , Mere Christianity
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Sometimes I'm bruised in the smooth, slick setbacks
dragging me down to fatigue at the bottom of the board
never really enjoying the ladders for fear of the next slide
but maybe I should just play like Lauren
knowing I'm meant to reach the top eventually
high-fiving all my fellow cardboard standup friends
and sailing down with my hands raised to You
“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.” Thomas Merton
"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
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
We've become an icy generation
frozen opinions wrapped in newspapers and online forums
Noisy arctic winds stinging our rosy ears
and caressing our pride smooth as glass
frosty voices hissing humanity's biting independence
and we stand tall to hide our shivering
jaws clenched to resist our chattering teeth
while the world continues to hammer
chipping and cracking
breaking and shattering
piece by piece
But Your springtime is always waiting
tiny buds awaiting the end to frosty hibernation
Subtle breezes crinkling in the leather-bound, gold-tipped pages
and melting our hearts, balmy with new life
Warm worship melodies singing our sunshine dependence
and we kneel at Your feet to give up our glacial ways
arms up to reach the toasty glow of surrender
while You bend down to envelop us in Your embrace
melting and nourishing
healing and soothing
peace by peace
"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." C.S. Lewis
"I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice." Psalm 51:16 (Msg)
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
and all our children know is a day out of school
a foreshadowed glimpse at a truth too big
for their tiny hands to hold just yet
like trying to reach something on a high shelf
and all you can do is yell for mommy
or wait to grow taller
reading this chapter reads more like a scary story
torn flesh, nails crushing through bones,
crowd-screaming earthquakes, dead people rising from the grave,
a love letter written in blood
it's hard for them to see why it is called
she can read a simple 3 letter word
but "sin" isn't really chewable when you're six
I try to make it bigger than stickers on a chart
allowance for chores
and consequences for missteps in the 5th commandment
attempting to cut it down into smaller pieces
and hoping the puzzle comes together on it's own
she can't feel the darkness of today
that illuminates the light of Sunday
she can't know what that torn curtain in the temple
means to the souls of her parents and grandparents
For now, the cross is a symbol she loves to call out
an icon, a brand, a trinket on a chain
like seeing a picture of her best friend
on some random billboard on vacation
a mini-van bumper sticker that makes her gasp
"Hey, they know Jesus too!" she cries, waving frantically
while strange, hesitant smiles peek out windows
or hide under tall steeples along the highway
so much life in her eyes from Your symbol of death
an arm stretched up to that top shelf on tiptoe
but she still can't quite reach it yet
all I can do is call to You
and wait for her to grow taller
"Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him, and say, 'Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours. You have become what you were not so that I might become what I was not.'" Martin Luther
"God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It always stands at the far side of the cross." A.W. Tozer
"God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn't send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words." 1 Corinthians 1:17
Thursday, April 09, 2009
three generations celebrating Your three in One
this wiggling toe baptism
Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet
2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
8"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
9"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"
10Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
"I want to make a palm branch, Mommy"
she said with determination in her eyes
and green construction paper in her hands
lessons from Miss Sheila still swirling in her mind
but her hands needed something to remember it by
"And I want to make a sign"
I could see she had been to Jerusalem
in the time travel machine of her imagination
and she didn't think You saw her in the crowd
and I can't help but grin for the day she finds You found her
"It has to be big and bold!"
scribbling through 4 markers that didn't make the cut
too light, too thin, too faded, too pink,
until she landed on a solid, bold brown
like the cross coming heavy on Friday
"Maybe I should make two!"
She was resolved to catch Your gaze from that donkey
tongue out to the side as she sounded out the words
white fingertips as she held the paper steady
adding a smiley face for visual effect
"Nope, three would be even better!"
And I can't help but think of three days,
three times denied, Abrham , Issac and Jacob,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
but she's not even content with Your number of completion
"Oh, I forgot the last one!"
her pursed lips slide to the side
her gaze is vacant as she searches for the perfect words
she begins to plan for enough space for all her letters
and I can't help but thank You for this
little monument of praise
Your triumphant entry
moving from my little girl's mind
out to her fingertips
up to You
and from her heart to mine
As I read the finished product
correcting the spelling in my teacher head
but secretly loving every mistake in my silence
I can't help but praise You
through my little girls words
"hosanna, hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to the king
We love You, Lord (smiley face)
Hail to the King (Beating Heart)
I love you with all of my heart, with all my strength"
I take a few sapshots
like 12 stones by the Jordan
and I can't think of a better way
to begin this Holy week
When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!" Mark 11:7-10
"The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom." Henry Ward Beecher
"Let your home be your parish, your little brood your congregation, your living room a sanctuary, and your knee a sacred altar." Billy Graham
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
If Jesus were a grandma,
I think he might be mine.
Humility and royalty
and love all intertwined.
Maybe that’s why we love
her stoic Queen Marilyn look
And marvel at her silent focus
in cross word puzzle books.
There are times I can’t help but see her
in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Quick glimpses of her spirit,
like a lightbulb flickering off and on
When Jesus wrapped that towel around his waist
and knelt to wash their feet
That’s where Grandma’s gentle hands
and quiet wisdom meet
In every song, if you listen close
you can hear her servant heart sing
But you won’t find her out onstage,
you’ll have to go back in the wings.
Or maybe in the kitchen
before the production of the family meal
Or at the bedside with a sick child
in the spot where she bent to kneel.
She calmed the stormy family seas
with toddlers and teenagers both
She loved and led her children well
through every stage of growth
She may not have healed the lame
or made the blind to see
But she was there with Band-aids and a magic kiss
for every scrape and skinned knee
Our family has plenty of talkers,
but her few words are always loaded with truth
And even now at eighty years young
she exudes the beauty of youth.
But the times when I see her the brightest
are when Jesus told his stories
Epic tales, parables with seeds
and woven metaphors that bring You glory.
My favorite story we always heard
was the one about Marilyn’s dishes
A little town called West Plains Missouri,
and a five year old’s Christmas wishes
It was the time of Steinbeck novels,
they’d lost all the animals on the farm,
But little Marilyn’s faith never wavered,
the town delighted by her hope-filled charm,
“My dishes will be here this Christmas”
she said in a Princess Marilyn stance
In a time when many dragged their feet,
little Marilyn was in a twirling dance
“Now don’t get your hopes up, Marilyn”
Thelma warned in her serious Mama voice
Secretly wishing she could find some way,
and knowing she had no choice
The town was sad that Christmas Eve
for Marilyn’s dream was quite well known
But much like the Jews that first Christmas Eve,
they didn’t know You had a plan of Your own.
Aunt Laura was the only one in the town
who didn’t seem to know the tale
And had no idea the hope she’d bring
with that box of toy dishes for sale.
Princess Marilyn was not at all surprised
and wondered why everyone was dumbfounded
But hope filled the town with this small miracle
that left them all astounded.
That little set of dishes was the just first of many
that she would carefully place
And there’s an open seat for everyone at her table
just like her open embrace.
Her dishes may have changed over the years,
for children will take care of that
But when everyone else is a thermometer,
Grandma is the thermostat
Steady and calm, keeping us cool
in each and every season
Listening to her daughters' complaining
even when there was no reason
Surviving her boys' many injuries,
broken bones and bloody noses,
And we have a feeling that life with Bob
wasn’t always a bed of roses.
But in all the ups and downs of marriage,
Her company was always preferred,
And as she shared on a walk with Mom one day,
she never doubted his love for her.
Much like her dishes, Grandma loves
providing delicious meals,
Silently listening to everyone else talk
about how everyone else feels.
But she never complained
or carried her chores like a heavy duty
But lightly carried all our doxology prayers
on the shoulders of her alto beauty.
Many a sweet honey ham or a juicy roast
have been devoured on those dishes and table
And even if that story in West Plains Missouri
evolves into an old fable
Those of us who know her well
know forgetting her could never occur
And if Jesus could be someone’s dishes,
I think he’d be one of hers.
Happy 80th Birthday, Grandma. We love you.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Mark 9:35
"But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15b
"A conservative is someone who makes no changes and consults his grandmother when in doubt." - Woodrow T. Wilson
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
once held the Mona Lisa
as I imagined Your dedication to one subject alone
romantic, wobbly mommy-shoe-walking dreams
of me as the heroine in my own story
when I thought you were painting me
all alone in my frightening plainness
but as the years passed by
sun-faded walls decaying secretly
too slow for my fast footsteps to notice
my own child shooting up like sunflowers
long before Monet's golden vase
a pigtailed girl trapped in an unknown portrait
of a befuddled, purse-toting grownup
who still can't walk in heels
like Bambi on that first day of spring
But as the seasons keep me dizzy with their spinning
I'm beginning to glimpse
what you might have meant for the mantle all along
a bunch of scraps found on sidewalks
old magazines on their way to the recycling plant
and even some waste already tossed aside
and only You can see the beauty
before the scissors and paste
bring us all together
but there are those days at the office
when I feel more like a speck you should brush off
than a bright spot in the mystery room we squint to see
a critic urging you to rip me off
before the glue dries and I leave a fuzzy paper flaw
admiring my larger, more colorful colleagues
the odd one out, the awkward silence,
the rolled eyes of relief when I leave the room
the only pink freckle in a beautiful mosaic
of cool blues, indigos, and greens
and that's when You press me down
blow a gentle, honey breath to dry me in place
cock your head to the side with an upturned smile
urging me to rethink beauty
and trust in Your scissor plan
in a steady hand
to find joy in my small part
in Your beautiful
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good... The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," ...But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other."
Monday, March 09, 2009
A made up tale of false hope
An overplayed version of a nice guy story
But all we have to do is go back
To those who were always looking forward.
Every branch and knot on the family tree
All the way back to the great Flood
“ …the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah's sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.” Genesis 10:1
The first of many promises to come
For Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
“…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 22:18
For the tribe of Judah
“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet…” Genesis 49:10
From the root of Jesse
“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him…” Isaiah 11:10
Of the House of David
“Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.' "2 Samuel 7:12-16
Micah predicted the setting
“But you, Bethlehem…out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel…” Micah 5:2
Isaiah foretold the miracle
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
Even a cousin who prepared the way
“A voice of one calling:"In the desert prepare the way for the LORD…” Isaiah 40:3
Many more told us of the unexpected timing
“From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes…” Daniel 9:25-26
The magic in Your hands
“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.” Isaiah 35:5-6
The power of Your words
"...to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”Isaiah 61:1
The why behind the what before it even happened
"to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3
Even the paths You would tread
“…he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan” Isaiah 9:1
And Your unlikely mode of transportation
"See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”Zechariah 9:9
Your anger in the temple
“…the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," Malachi 3:1
The slap in Your loving face
"The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” Psalm 118:22
And David foretold those intimate thoughts,
yet with each of us
and the rest of the world on Your shoulders
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22:1
But like many of us, they skewed Your image,
Anxiously awaiting a political king,
a war hero who would free them from Roman rule
Blinded by their anger,
they fulfilled the final prophecies
Right down to the smallest of details
Of that fateful week…
A friend’s betrayal
“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9
For 30 pieces of silver
"I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.' So they paid me thirty pieces of silver." Zechariah 11:12
Your silence before the accusers
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7
The soldiers mocking voices
“All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads” Psalm 22: 7-8
The beatings like a mask of wounds
“…his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness…” Isaiah 52: 14
Your eyes steady as they spit in Your face
“I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” Isaiah 50: 6
When they pierced Your hands and feet
“…they have pierced my hands and my feet.” Psalm 22:16
Your plea for my forgiveness
“For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12
Even that bitter drink.
“They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”
And the greedy soldiers betting against You
“They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Psalm 22:18
But the prophecies didn’t stop there
And neither did You.
3 days later
3 more predictions fulfilled
3 promises even bigger than
that rainbow after the flood,
Abraham’s star-filled sky,
and Solomon’s riches
3 days later
1 empty tomb
“…you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Psalm 16:10
1 heavenly ascent
When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train” Psalm 68:18
1 seat at the right hand of the Father
"The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand” Psalm 110:1
A new covenant
“an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love…I have made him a leader and commander of the peoples.”Isaiah 55:3-4
A divine conspiracy
“the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
And the ultimate promise kept
“I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…I will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34
the promise that when we come to die
we find Jesus there
arms wide open
calling us to come and die
so we can finally
Saturday, February 28, 2009
so he flipped his fuzzy, hippy ponytail
"No, Krissy, white is the absence of color.
I surrender all, I surrender all;
Thursday, February 19, 2009
that fateful day when those tiny, hopping feet
first fall outside her twiggy circle of safety
teetering on the edge of the branch
stretching their inexperienced wings and looking down
she must be breathless when she first loses sight of them...
but for us humans, it's a slow, hidden ritual
like watching the tree grow
but there are days you notice a new branch beginning
or a new site on the growing horizon
and today was one of those days.
She got off the bus slower than usual
her daily bounce and grin suddenly missing
as if stolen in some violent, unseen moment
and she stepped inside to tell the story.
Four older boys who I envisioned with forked tongues
had hovered over her seat like crows
the ring leader hit her on the back
"Hey, little girl! Do you know what a _________ is?"
He continued with a series of phrases and gestures
I hadn't learned until high school and way past puberty
As the vulgar words and gestures were repeated
by our naive, confused and eternally precious little kindergartener
our hearts slid into our stomaches and we tried to catch our breaths
for me, the tears were immediate,
but I was safely on the other end of the phone
keeping my voice from wavering, my tone calm, my mind racing
with routes to speed up the commute back to the nest
But she could see the anger tightening in her daddy's jawline
as he explained that those words were not meant for her ears
and the boys needed to pay for what they'd done
a noble calling for justice teetering on vengeance in his throat
and then it happened,
You were there in her voice
as she walked over and put her hand on his shoulder
"Daddy, it's ok. I bet there's a nice boy
deep down inside this mean boy
and we should say a prayer that he can come out
and that his momy and daddy can start doing better
at teaching him right from wrong."
And there she was, winging off into the sunlight
carried by the winds of You
as we marveled from the nest.
We can't shelter her from the world
or even from the boy on the bus
but we can trust in You
to help us teach her how to fly.
"Therefore you shall lay up these My words in your minds and hearts and in your entire being, and bind them for a sign upon your hands and as forehead bands between your eyes.
And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise up.
And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates,
That your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth."
Deuteronomy 11: 18-21
"To be 'in charge' as a parent means inspiring your children to motivate themselves. Servant leadership addresses the key principle of relationship vs. control. The truth is we have a far greater responsibility to our children than we have for our children. The bottom line is this: You need to be in control of the thing you can control, and that starts with you. I am responsible to my child for how I relate with my child. The only way to retain a position of influence with our children is to regain a positon of control over ourselves."
Ron Craker, "Parenting" Journey Bible Class, February 2009
"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that."
Ephesians 5:1-2 (Msg)