Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 12 Steps of Christmas

Christmas makes women insane
and as a constantly recovering Martha
I just wish I could gather all Your precious daughters
into one little padded room
hand out the hand-knitted straight jackets
and offer them a week of peace before Your birthday party.
I would read them a book of stories from Luke
the preface containing a desperate plea from You
vying for their attention and offering so much more
than scented candles, 12 step programs, Oprah self-help books,
or rushed bubble baths while their kids repeatedly call
"Mom!" outside the locked door, like broken records
because maybe after a week of listening
like squirming, little girls on carpet squares
the truth might begin to sink in and surround them
like that expensive memory foam they thought would do the trick
but this truth won't leave them restless in the morning.
They can hear it in Mary's song, in the angels announcement,
and especially the night You came to visit two sisters
icons of the little devil and little angel
on the shoulders of every woman
the one complaining, debating, worrying,
hissing discontent in one ear,
while the other kneels and prays with a silent, patient smile
and then POOF
they suddenly get it;
They don't need to survive Christmas;
they need Christmas to survive.
And all it took was 12 steps
out of the kitchen to the feet of Jesus.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10: 38-42

"Christmas makes me stop and ask myself--do I really believe that love can be purchased with a gift? That I can make my family love me or I can make my family get along if I can just get more stuff?" Mark Beeson, "Simple Family" sermon December 13-14, 2008

"If you stop to think about it, it is astounding that the simple, unassuming birth of a peasant boy born two thousand years ago in the Middle East has caused such commotion--his birthday even causes traffic jams in places like New York City, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro . . . Preparing for Christmas can be a lot of work, especially for moms. With the pressure of buying gifts, sending greeting cards, decorating our homes, putting up lights, cooking attending parties, and cleaning up afterward, we have little time to actually enjoy the meaning of Christmas . . . God came to earth as Jesus essentially to say: 'You guys have got it all wrong! Of course doing good things matters, but it doesn't make me love you any more or less. My love for you is unlimited, unconditional, unchanging, and undeserved. So let me teach you a new concept called grace. You can't purchase it, work for it, or be good enough to merit it. It's a gift that will cost me a lot, but it is free to you. Everything I do for you, to you , in you, and through you--every single blessing you have in life--is a gift of grace.' Why celebrate Christmas if you're not going to open the best gift of all?" Rick Warren, The Purpose of Christmas

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

True Love's Last Kiss

from ancient scrolls to silver screen humanity
the world holds breath and leans in for true love's first kiss
heroic journeys through briars, brambles, danger and dragons
all for a chance to lock lips, save the day and set off fireworks
fairytale Hollywood ending is a happily ever after beginning
cameras cut before those quiet moments of years to come
when the sky is black and the booming dies down
but maybe that's where real love begins
not in the rapid horse chases
but staying put & putting up
not true loves first kiss
but that last kiss
from your

"Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two."Thoreau

"Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage."
Ephesians 5:24-26

Monday, October 31, 2011


Masquerade, paper faces on parade
Masquerade, hide your face so the world will never find you.
Phantom of the Opera's biggest 8 year old fan
constantly singing, humming, belting,
the melodies and lines from this classic tale
pulled in with wonder at what's behind the mask
the checkered past that blurs the lines of good and evil
fascination with yet another Beauty and the Beast story
riveted by the extravagance of the ball
she's determined to relive it at Halloween
But I can't help but miss her while she's behind the mask
and say a little prayer for the coming tween and teen years
when many different masks might be tried on for size
until she finds the freedom of being who she is in You
"Why doesn't Christine stay? All the phantom needs is love."
She inquires and I can't help but wonder myself...

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature... For theLord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:17

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." ~e.e. cummings

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dream Deferred

it's just out of reach
like a high shelved snow globe at Christmas
and Daddy's out of change in his corduroys
this seven years of daydreaming
but there's that lonely line on a stick
stood up by his prideful paralleled companion
once every 28 days
and every tick of that biological clock
avoid the TV- Johnson & Johnson is waiting
Stay home from the box stores, their not gift-wrapped
that big-bellied woman with a grin on her face
or the dark-eyed teen wondering "why me"
the stroller wheels that turn my way
and I lock eyes with their wide-eyed passenger
fingers in his mouth, beaming the breath out of me
all casually stroll by tearing off a scab
there's not enough time for scars
when you're surrounded
So I stop in this Gerber, Maternity torture Circus
and look up to lock eyes with You
hoping you'll beam this dream right out of me
But it all keeps spinning in the periphery
You give me Your Son
I'll give You mine.
Over and over again.

"Listen, God! Please, pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help.
Every morning
you'll hear me at it again.
Every morning
I lay out the pieces of my life
on your altar
and watch for fire to descend." Psalm 5:1-3 (Msg)

"Prayer is the lifting of our hearts and minds to God.
For no matter what we're saying, we're asking,"Do you love me?"
And no matter how He answers, He's saying, "Yes, I do."
Mother Angelica

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Praying by your crib for you
pastel blankets and quilted dolls shaking
for fear of those playful kicking chubby feet
praying that one day you would choose
the Man who prayed in the garden
green grass blanket and leaf trees shaking
for fear of those groans and drops of blood

watching you take those teetering first steps
cherub arms out, tongue to the side
hoping you'd one day choose the one
who carried a cross up a hill
battered arms out, facing the spear in his side

letting you go on that first day of school
into that dark tunnel of brick and crayons and paste
dreaming of what you choose to color and paste together
longing for you to take Him with you
the One who gave his son into darkness for you
who whispers in colors and helps you
piece it all together

Here we are today
those same feet kicking underwater
first steps into this pool
once again going where I cannot follow.
Enveloped in a love just for you
and offered to all His children.
We celebrate today and keep praying
as those feet continue to grow
as more steps are taken
and as you continue to piece it all together.

"Baptism is an outward expression of an inward faith."Watchman Nee

Acts 22:16 -"And now why do you tarry? Rise up and be baptized and wash away your sins, invoking his name."

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Awake while the world is dreaming
so I stumble into the prayer closet
asking You why I'm awake
and the dam of why's burst
like a pindrop catalyst earthquake
They say our world is falling into darkness….
I cringe through the news
like gawking at a car wreck
wondering if someone I love is trapped inside
They say the Golden rule is tarnished and fading to black…
Everyone’s arguing about what to do
How to fix it
Who to believe
asleep in the stalemate of their own rage
so afraid to wake up and listen
that they go on a killing spree in Norway
Some are looking for escape, any chance to numb the pain…
So they say No, No, No to rehab
Some believe the chance for a brighter future
is growing dimmer each day
So they embrace the inevitable
avoid the conversation
and buy their kid another ipod to stare at
It’s easier to sleep in when it’s dark outside.
But there is too much at stake to keep our eyes closed.
In the orange glow of our swaying closet light
in the warmth of this prayer closet cocoon
my hands come together at my chest with a tired sigh
and I lean against You
Listening to your lullaby calling us to rise and shine
not despite of
but for the love of
a world falling into darkness
Then I see a tiny ray
of the rising Son
peeking through the keyhole.

“Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray…’
Luke 22:46

If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep. ~Dale Carnegie

“So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.”
1 Thessalonians 5:6

"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."
~William Shakespeare, Macbeth

This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:14

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Odd Couple

Miss Summer always had a bounce in her step
leftover from Spring
the sweet yellow lemonade sun her childhood playmate
always outside and on the go,
back and forth like the pendulum swing set,
running like a spinning sprinkler,
dancing like the windchimes on the back porch,
and wondering when the next breeze would relieve the heat
of those pipe dreams behind her fanciful eyes.
She didn't expect to fall in love with Mr. Winter
peering at his handsome silhouette through the falling leaves of Autumn
like cheering from the top row bleechers
in those icy breath football Friday nights,
sneeking a peak back at him through the March fog
after those Spring rains when the frost melts to dew
and those slumbering buds first stretch and yawn.
She admired from a distance his quiet strength
the rest in his silent snowfalls
the glistening ice enveloping the bare branches
stripped of their leafy clothes, naked and vulnerable.
when families stayed inside together
like a warm womb or cozy cocoon
where everything slows and grows in hidden stillness.
Yet somehow she caught his eye.
For years she tried to bring him to her bee-buzzing world
but it was too bright, too humid, too frantic, too much.
She tried to run to him but she'd shiver and ache
her strong kisses cut short
behind the weakness of those chattering teeth.
His companion darkness that brought him blankety peace
only made her grieve and long for the sun.
But they held on by their fingertips
stretching and straddling the seasons life would bring them.
Meeting for rendevous picnics in the blustery spring
laughing as the wind knocked them over a few times
trudging through the Fall mud hand in hand
when all she wanted to do was sprint back to summer grasses
and all he wanted to do was sit and wait til it hardens.
It's not a happily ever after story.
No, thanks to You, the creator of all seasons,
it's better than that.
Because, no matter what the season,
sometimes it's better to be in the shelter of the woods
than out of them
As long as you stick together.

"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

"Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.
Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage."
Ephesians 5:21-28 (Msg)

"A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time." ~Anne Taylor Fleming

Monday, May 30, 2011


secret velvet worry
this vast translucent sail
bellowy fever throbbing
melting my marble sky
Your wild prisoner dazzled
auspicious fire dancing in these dark eyes
pierced to bleed and healed to fly
empty handed robbery offered a gold-bow'd present
icy wind to see a freshly perfumed and blushing breath
the rhythm of Your sacred poetry
steamy concrete swaying
to the kiss of change

"Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."
Psalm 51:6-12

"Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other."
Psalm 85:10

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spit and Polish

This chasing fear
that year after year
Your Love's World premier
might slowly disappear
mud smeared on beauty sheers
when sincere becomes severe
rule lines to never cross here
black and white pamphleter
nitpicking auctioneer
some pious racketeer
zombie sickness Phariseer
high gear calendar year
looking down from up here
giving ear but can't hear
when head-bowed tears switch to upturned sneers
belly laugh cheer fades to puffed up chesty jeer
austere to cavalier
smug mutineer
pride pioneer
Lord, Please intefere
back to the white tailed deer
panting for Your water crystal clear
a kick in the rear
when ancient truth is new clear
from Your celestial sphere to side spear
ever blind to sightseer
every morning You draw near
to save me here
from my biggest fear
that all that I hold dear
could become spit and polish veneer.

"The fierce words of Jesus addressed to the Pharisees of His day stretch across the bands of time. Today they are directed not only to fallen televangelists but to each of us. We miss Jesus' point entirely when we use His words as weapons against others. They are to be taken personally by each of us. This is the form and shape of Christian Pharisaism in our time. Hypocrisy is not the prerogative of people in high places. The most impoverished among us is capable of it. Hypocrisy is the natural expression of what is meanest in us all." Brennan Manning The Ragamuffin Gospel

"Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that's wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?" Matthew 23:24 (Msg)

"Christ himself wrote it-not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives-and we publish it." 2 Corinthians 3:3 (Msg)

"Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. "The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God's Law. You won't go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don't live it. They don't take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It's all spit-and-polish veneer. Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.' Don't let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don't set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of 'Father'; you have only one Father, and he's in heaven. And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ. Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty." Matthew 23:1-12

"The confessing church of American Ragamuffins needs to join Magdalene and Peter in witnessing that Christianity is not primarily a moral code but a grace-laden mystery; it is not essentially a philosophy of love but a love affair; it is not keeping rules with clenched fists but receiving a gift with open hands." Brennan Manning The Ragamuffin Gospel

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


40 from Granger Community Church on Vimeo.

40 days until Easter
This simple number 40
40 holds a profound history of promises
“I will send rain on the earth for 40 days…” Gen 7:4
40 days to cleanse and start anew
“Moses was there with the LORD 40 days…and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.” Exodus 34:28
40 days to listen
“…you had made for yourselves an idol…once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for 40 days. But again the LORD listened to me.” Deuteronomy 9:16-19
40 days to repent
“Moses sent them to explore Canaan…’See what the land is like…Is it good or bad?... How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor?... At the end of 40 days they returned from exploring the land.” Numbers 13:17-25
40 days to explore
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these… 40 years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart.” Deuteronomy 8:2
40 days to humble ourselves
“Each morning and evening for 40 days, Goliath took his stand and made his speech…’Master,’ said David, ‘don't give up hope. I'm ready to go and fight.’ “ 1 Samuel 17:16, 32
40 days to test our courage
“His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign… He reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel 40 years.” 1 Chronicles 22:9, 2 Chronicles 9:30
40 days to restore peace
“Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh… He proclaimed: "40 days and Nineveh will be overturned.’ The Ninevites believed God.” Jonah 3:3-5
40 days to heed a warning
“…lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the house of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year.” Ezekiel 4:6
40 days to remember
"After fasting 40 days…he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:2-4
40 days to prepare
“He appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God. …After this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” Acts 1:3, 9
40 days to return
Each of these periods of 40 brought times of struggle
But at the end of 40...
waited a rainbow of promise
fertile land to set down some roots
a new set of eyes to see their world
a restored strength and passion for the call
This 40 days of Lent
the Church’s annual wilderness experience
40 days of attitude adjustment
40 days to shake off the extras that weigh us down
40 days to prepare for the celebration
40 days to return to the why behind the what
40 days to return to the Who behind the why
40 days to return
to You.

"We should expect to hear about love on a lenten friday. Believers, of course, recall the passion of Jesus on all the fridays of the year, but the lenten fridays are special days to prepare for the Friday called Good."
Victor Hoagland

"Repentance is the doorway to the spiritual life, the only way to begin. It is also the path itself, the only way to continue. Anything else is foolishness and self-delusion. Only repentance is both brute-honest enough, and joyous enough, to bring us all the way home."
Frederica Mathewes-Green, The Illumined Heart:
The Ancient Christian Path of Transformation

Friday, February 25, 2011


Prayer from Granger Community Church on Vimeo.

Cover to cover
we pray.
the echo of humanity whining like kids
In the beginning,
There were no closed eyes and bowing heads,
just grown up hide n seek,
a conversation walled off by fig leaves,
and pointing fingers.
“I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:10

Trying to weasel our way out of trouble like Cain
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9
Bartering with You like Abraham…
"50? 45? then 40? how about just 10?" Genesis 18:23-29
Running from our own messes like Jacob…
“Save me, please, from the violence of my brother…” Gen 21:11-12
Back pedaling against our calling like Moses…
"Moses answered God, 'But why me?' Exodus 3:11
living with Joshua where the grass is always greener in someone else’s yard.
"If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!” Joshua 7:7
Gideon flat out demanded a sign before he’d even listen.
“… give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.” Judges 6:17
Samson pleaded for revenge.
“… revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Judges 16:28
And Jabez straight up asked You to show him the money.
"bless me and enlarge my territory.” 1 Chronicles 4:10
Us telling God, “I know you’re a little confused right now,
but here’s what you should do."
Kids ordering around the father.
But something shifts in the middle of the book.
Like a kid that grows up
and starts talking with his dad instead of at him.
That kid who gets old enough
to stop asking for toys
and starts just wanting dad’s time more than anything.
Like David who fell facedown in his shame
“Cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:1
Then stood up with a new song of praise.
“Sing to the LORD a new song.” Psalm 98:1
Jeremiah actually asked for discipline.
So correct us, God, as you see best. Jeremiah 10:23-24
Daniel hit his knees with a heart for the people of his city.
“see the desolation of the city that bears your Name” Daniel 9:18
And Isaiah reminded us we’re all just clay in his hands.
“you are the potter” Isaiah 64:8
Mary didn’t say a word at first,
then pretty much said “Let’s do this”…
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Luke 1:38
Then Jesus comes along and shows us how to pray…
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:10
He was always sneaking off for a talk with Dad...
“Jesus spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:13
His very life was a prayer
“take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
Shouted in his death.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:44
Paul reminded us to pray boldly…
“approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12
Like the saints and martyrs throughout the centuries…
“make me an instrument of your peace” St. Francis
Gandhi began a revolution with prayer…
“Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.” Gandhi
Mother Theresa modeled it…
“God speaks in the silence of the heart.” Mother Theresa
And Billy Graham defined it…
“A two way conversation” Billy Graham
And then it hit me…
like a kid who couldn’t wait to move out on his own
but suddenly finds himself
You are always listening,
but the question is…
are we?

"Prayer is our declaration of dependence." Phillip Yancey

"Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure."
D. L. Moody

"By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life."
Psalm 42:8

"Pray that the LORD your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.”
Jeremiah 42:3

Monday, January 17, 2011

Soldier Boy

"I wonder if a soldier ever does mend a bullet hole in his coat?"
Clara Barton

He thinks he's just a bullet dodger
the black sheep in this wooly flock
the foreigner coming for a visit
haunted by the storms overseas
but he is our treasured soldier boy
our bundle of handpicked Korean joy
drying the salty tears after Aaron's goodbye
That same feisty smile we now see in Marcus
a cousin to play with
who grew into a husband and father
but forever Your little boy
This is his home
You are his home
it's time for a real homecoming,
but it's hard for a good soldier to surrender.
In the meantime,
we'll keep our arms open
like a foxhole of family
and You've called a ceasefire.
He's still hearing the lead
whizzing past his shaking shoulders
still holding that grenade pin
following orders
the screams echoing in his mind
and hope buried in the rubble somewhere.
Trained to kill
but born to be loved.
We pray for a miracle
peace from war
in the heart of our
Soldier Boy.

We love you, Nathan
almost as much as He does.

"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." Maya Angelou

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39