Friday, December 31, 2010

Taffy Days

these are the salt water taffy days
like the arms of a machine
that try to cut me in half
but really just stretch me
to make me a little softer
a little sweeter
the machine's been churning for days now
I'm getting a little dizzy
worn down by the ins and outs
rounds and rounds like clockwork
in a sticky cycled cage of chrome and pink
the zigging is pulling down my smile
and the zagging is tugging my eyes upward
toward the writer of the recipe
You smile and whisper
"Hang on"
because in the middle of all this
dizzying, stretching, straining
you're making me delicious.

"Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape." Charles Dickens

"The closeness to God, the similarity to God, the conformity to God, not just the feeling of being close to God but the ontological real closeness to God, the God-likeness of the soul, emerges from suffering with remarkable efficiency."
Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1: 2-4

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out." Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

1 X 1

Church Redefined from Granger Community Church on Vimeo.

For some it is stained glass beauty,
white steeples on high hills nostalgia,
wooden pews of childhood
where our Patten leather shoes dangled below
as the sermons flew above our heads,
the artistry of the Cathedrals of Europe,
a tourist attraction for snapshots
in photo albums we never open again,
for others, it carries some outdated mystery
behind bright red doors that are locked,
with only a privileged few holding the keys,
a place to waste time on false hope once a week,
outdated, old-fashioned, and boring,
a boxed-in sea of judgmental glares
gossip disguised as prayer requests
a building with a list of don’ts
mandates to be good,
be nice,
and be quiet.
In the beginning
it was the picture of a lush garden stroll
in the cool of the day
Hushed tones of worship conversation
A relationship, whole and pure,
Teeter totter listening and laughter
Sunsets dancing on our faces
through the canopy of leaves overhead
Until we took a bite of temptation and pushed You away.
We followed Your fire at night and cloud in the day
And set up a draping tabernacle,
flapping its greeting in the desert breeze
A whispered invitation to enter and worship.
Then Solomon’s temple,
rich with ornate beauty,
exclusive Holy of Holies few dared to enter
Until…an unexpected twist.
The true temple came
in a baby born in a stable
When you, once again, chose to walk
with Your friends in the cool of the day
Church on the move once more,
as You loved them
A woman by a well,
two men in a boat,
12 around a table,
From a hillside gathering in the thousands,
To the upper room where You knelt to wash their feet,
Church redefined in the body of a Godman,
The temple veil torn in Your last breath,
another invitation as the torch was passed,
The temple is in
We are the temple.
as close as our hearts and as big as the worlds we live in.
It’s not a building we come to on Sundays.
Church is wherever we are.
A school cafeteria,
an office break room,
a check-out line,
a soccer field sideline,
a restaurant booth,
a hospital bed,
a movie theater,
a living room,
a back yard,
a sidewalk stroll
Church is wherever we are,
wherever we love them
an invitation, not to a building,
but to a relationship.
You didn’t keep inviting us to visit You in heaven,
You came down to us.
To walk with us.
To live among us.
Face to face.
Hand in hand.
Side by side.
We’ve been asking the wrong questions….
Church is not a what,
or even a where.
is a who.
They may refuse to come to meet You.
But we will bring You to them,
wherever and whenever we choose to love them
like You taught us.
Face to face.
Hand in hand.
Side by side.

"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12: 10-12

"The greatest need for our time in for the Church to become what it has seldom been: the body of Christ with its face to the world, loving others regardless of religion or culture, pouring itself out in a life of service, offering hope to a frightened world, and presenting itself as a real alternative to the existing arrangement." Brennan Manning, "The Signature of Jesus"

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Weight Loss

I think I get it
Why he took the cross from You
Those dragging steps in the crunchy sandy streets
Your legs shaking and painted in weaving trails of blood
Even in the middle of Your agony,
You were sending us a message
This center where two lines meet
Where suffering and love kiss
You whispered
When you try to carry something alone, you fall
When you try to grin and bear it, you hit a wall
Gritting your teeth through the forced smile pain
You can only get so far.
But how the story would have changed
Had You refused his help.
And kept the cross to Yourself
Or worse yet,
Kept it from us.
So in light of what You gave
I dropped the bomb.
To them, to You.
It didn’t explode,
just lightened the load.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. Of either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“God is not so wary as we, else He would give us no friends, lest we forget Him.” Emily Dickinson

"We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone."
Maya Angelou

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival." C. S. Lewis

"The cross is God's way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses and arguments. The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, 'Me too.'"-Rob Bell

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Princess Bride

around midnight October 14th
two teenage brothers sat in a hospital waiting room
making bets as to whose birthday she would share
thinking they were getting a little brother
their house would be turned upside down
by a little princess who thought canned corn was a seat
Disney movies her crystal ball to see the future
ever searching for her prince,
daddy and big brothers were great practice
in that first dress up make believe decade of training
taking turns as Prince Phillip, Aladdin, John Smith
and many other handsome men coming to the rescue.
But the Little Mermaid was her personal preference,
God is winking at her today she finally got her prince Eric.
But that didn’t come for quite a while.
Age 11, she was the one sprinkling petals at our wedding,
long before we could ever imagine
our own little princess would be sprinkling petals at hers.
But some snapshots don’t make the photo album.
when it feels like life hits you like a train.
Sarah was a daddy’s girl, crawling up his recliner lap,
recording silly radio talk shows on her tape recorder
and loving her with open arms.
January 99, another hospital waiting room
That look in her eyes before the words formed
“I’m 12 and I don’t have a dad anymore.”
She spent the next decade looking for those open arms,
Falling into arms that would hurt, leave and take without permission
until she went out on a balcony at ball state and surrendered
moving away to spend some time seeking the ultimate source of her longing
and found that You had been there for her all along.
That time to fall into the arms of a heavenly Father
before she could fall into the arms of her Prince Eric.
Thank You Lord for new beginnings
In the snapshots of white gowned fairy tale endings.

“Gravitation is not responsible for too people falling in love.” Albert Einstein

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
And his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
Revelation 19:7-8

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh Brother

Oh Brother, where art thou, in my dreams
When my pigtails fail to impress
Playground sisters and brothers were friends
you wished I'd be reposessed
The brother in movies stood up to the bully
While I served the bully at home
The brother in books lifted her up
You shoved me down into Unknown
Trapped me in corners to make me cry
a burr in your saddle from the start
But at bedtime prayers I would still love you
And pray there’d be room in your heart
For an annoying little sister
who was like a rock in your shoe
A splinter in your finger
A birthday with the flu…
A line of tape in the car
For those long trips
If I crossed the line
I’d get a swift kick.
“Sibling rivalry is common” they’d say
When Mom would ask a close friend
Her tears over all those years
Asking “Will this ever end?”
I thought we’d grow out of it
With our respective shoe sizes
But you, my big brother, keep me on my toes
And are always full of surprises.
But one thing won’t change
At the end of the day
When I kneel down for
Bedtime prayers to say.
I thank Him for you
Yes, even from the start
And pray that there still
Might be room in your heart
For this annoying little sister
like a rock in your shoe
Who grew up to be strong
And, in part, I thank you.

“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters and brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” Maya Angelou

‘The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. “ 1 Peter 5:10 (Msg)

“I ask him to strengthen you by his spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. 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 3:16-20 (Msg)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Abba's Day

Gone are the days of those Norman Rockwell
armchair-sitting, hat-wearing, pipe-smoking thinking men
coming home from work to put their feet up
in their lazy-boy recliner thrones
peeking from behind shuffling grey newspapers
to offer stern wisdom from time to time
and remind the little ones to speak only when spoken to.
But these days call for a different daddy
those ant-finding, Barbie-playing, couch-wrestling heroes
jumping out from closets with flashlights under their chins
sitting in the stickiness of crumbs on the table breakfasts
and building forts with chairs and garish Disney character blankets
All pride aside as they get down on the floor
to lift up their children with their feet
for the ultimate flight simulator.
Waking up in the night from those chest lifting snores
Like the sun rising and falling
or the sound of waves landing safely on shore
Taking turns with the baby as the real shelter
from the thunderstorms.
and despite all mom’s back-seat driving
and hands on the hips questions
he is… safety, love, and what makes our houses…homes.
But every daddy moment is just a glimpse
A whisper of an Abba Father patiently waiting in the thick of it
Somehow their adoration in those silly G.I. Joe games
giddy laughter from the basement and back porch squeals
bare foot walks and late night mermaid stories
all the way to hidden tears over gowns at prom, graduation
and that walk down the aisle…
These are all rippling reflections
of Genesis rainbows to a stone rolled away
those long dusty walks from town to town
and from a manger to a cross
somehow it all feels more like eavesdropping
on the evolution of a loving father
from that arm chair throne to the toy-cluttered carpet
All pride aside as He came down
to lift His children up
the ultimate flight simulator.
and we hop into prayer
like nestling next to Daddy
in a booming thunderstorm
with sheets of rain driving sideways in the wind
And we give this day to You, Abba Father
This life to you
with its flood of uncertainties
wincing before each loud boom
There are those nights
when we cannot predict the timing or the intensity
of the mystery that shakes the windows
as if an ill-intending intruder pounding to come inside
But You just tuck us snug in the middle
telling epic stories of David prayers
in the middle of his own storms
as You whisper beneath the comforter of morning orison
reminding us all what we already know
but still need to hear only You say
"No matter what happens. Daddy’s here."

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:13

"Be kind to thy father, for when thou wert young, Who loved thee so fondly as he? He caught the first accents that fell from thy tongue, And joined in thy innocent glee." -- Margaret Courtney

"Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express." Joseph Addison

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him." Psalm 103:13

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Le Printemps

When the walls close in,
When I can't catch my breath,
All it takes is a door, a window,
to see the tiny buds on cracking branches
And I come back to You.
In the wind as it snakes in and out of the trees
Like a child in a familiar playground.
I see Your face in the clouds
Trace Your name in the sand
scoop the surface of the water and
Watch the ripples surround me.
The fragrance of fresh cut grass in the summer,
When You hooked up with some fisherman and fed the five thousand.
Burning leaves in the fall,
When You knew they were coming.
The crunch of snow and icy breath that dances
In six cold hours on the cross
And then --the spring
Especially in the spring.

"Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."
Hosea 6:3

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Love Letters in the Morning

When my love and I first met
He wrote to me
Poetry, letters, songs of passion
His handwriting drew me
As the trickle of a rolling river
That somehow brings peace in constant movement
intertwining fingers of anticipation and repose
Each bend of the river was new
Each rock gently changing its flow
Redirecting the path to new revelation.
I ran to the mailbox, expecting, hoping,
Yearning for more of his words, his thoughts, his love
I never knew such love.
But I did . . .
You were there.
Your love letters sat on a high shelf
In a dusty cover with pages stuck together
That smelled new from lack of use.
Or sometimes in a drawer
With papers I never needed,
Pictures I never placed in an album,
Paper clips, rubber bands, and rusty scissors.
Your love letters
Your Song of Solomon
Your Psalms
Your Mathew Mark, Luke, and John
Your Genesis, Your Exodus
Your Romans and Jeremiah.
But now ancient words come alive like the morning paper
To run to the Book, expecting, hoping,
Yearning for more of Your Word, Your thoughts, Your Love
I never knew such love.
But I did . . .

“Your promises to me are hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me!” Psalm 119:49

“Your words are what sustain me . . . They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me.” Jeremiah 15:16

Sunday, April 04, 2010

First Words

In my haughty humanity
I would have shouted "I told you so!"
to the wagging finger Pharisees,
to ambivalent Pilate and his dripping hands.
But You took a few steps out of a tomb
inhaling the fresh scents of the garden
to speak the name of a weeping woman
a social outcast who found herself alone yet again
to ask a simple question
"Why are you crying?"
and yet somehow I hear my name
tasting the salt of my own tears
as You wish us both the first
Happy Easter
stealing our tears from grief
and handing them over to joy
Robin Hood style
as we open our eyes
to see You
just long enough to grin
fall into Your arms
and then take off running.

"In his triumph, Jesus could have paraded though the streets of Jerusalem. He could have knocked on Pilate's door. He could have confronted the high priest. But the first person our resurrected Lord appears to is a woman without hope. And the first words he speaks are, "Why are you crying?"
"What a savior we serve, or rather, who serves us. For in his hour of greatest triumph, he doesn't shout his victory from the rooftops. He comes quietly to a woman who grieves...who desperately needs to hear his voice...see his face...and feel his embrace."
Ken Gire, Moments with the Savior

"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."
Jesus said to her, "Mary."
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).
John 20:15-16

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thornbush and Briers

in the gasp of the sting
in the blood of the wound
in the thorny questions of the why
when the pain pulls us to our knees
We still hold on to the thornbush
because in You we know
the sweet fruit is coming
to quench our thirst
in this desert
on our way to Your promised land
or maybe we're just wallowing
on the road to Emmaus
heavy footed sandals dragging the dust
like pouting kids shuffling sneakers
after a kickball loss of 9 year old bravado
But little did we know
You've been walking with us
talking with us
all along.

"Thank You for the hunger I have known in the wilderness and the thorns and nails I have known in the world, I have learned to feel something of the pain You felt when you walked this earth...and something of the fellowship of your sufferings, and intimacy with you I would have never known apart from tears..." Ken Gire, Moments with the Savior

"Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed." Isaiah 55:13

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Gardener

i tried something new
an obstinant, weak candle in a lit room
chasing the darkness to spread a light
little did i know
it was i who would be blessed
refreshed and renewed
by the cool
of their Steel Magnolias
seeing You smiling back and flickering
in their silvery mirrored petals.
Your humor in Patti's sarcasm
with precision arrow timing
like Robin hood splitting that arrow
with a smirk on his face
and a soft spot in his heart.
Your beauty in Jen's spirit
as she races her kids around town
giving up gas in the tank and a little bit of herself
jingling bangle bracelets
like windchimes that remind of us summer
in the middle of the icy winter chill
and even though she doesn't always see it,
her beauty leaves us all astounded.
Your creativity in Karen's strumming fingers
and velvety honest voice
that carries us far from our living room worries
to a place of sincerity and trust
as simple and bold as a pair of cowboy boots.
Your love for us in mother Dolly
who pulls us under her wings as her own
no matter how old we are
who feeds us well, hugs often,
and smiles more than she should
to make up for the rest of us.
Your constancy in Mandi's strength
when cancer haunted not once but twice
and she went in fighting
and came out a champion
disguised as just another shopping mom
in White House Black Market.
Long after the final curtain call,
as we go our separate ways,
and that last echo of applause fades like a train whistle,
the cool of their steely strength
and the lessons that blossomed
in those fragrant Magnolia talks
basktage and in the back seat of a van
will keep growing and helping me become
the women you made me to be
and the little girls we will always be to You
our Daddy
and the tender gardner
of this little patch of Steel Magolias.

"You grow up the day you have your first real laugh - at yourself."
~Edith Barrymore

"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 59:16

"Trouble is a part of life, and if you don't share it, you don't give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough."
Dinah Shore~

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:28-31

Share joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow." Swedish Proverb