Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hallelujah and Hope

One of the things I love to do during the holidays is listen to Handel's Messiah or, preferably,to catch a concert of the Messiah. It is the perfect time to meditate on the life of Christ, to wish and mourn and sing HALLELUJAH all in one enthralling night, and leave in jubilant hope. I love to experience Scripture in it's rightful place of astonishing beauty. If there is a way to set apart time to reflect on the "meaning of the season," this, to me, is it.

Of course the most anticipated moment of the evening is the Hallelujah chorus, when the audience stands and I love the legend attached with this moment, that at the London premier of the Messiah, King George jumped to his feet because he mistakenly assumed that the concert was over. Of course the mistake is an easy one to make, as the music culminates at such a peak that even Handel is quoted as saying when he wrote the "Hallelujah" chorus, "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the Great God himself."

But the concert is not over, and the story is not finished. The resurrection of Christ is the Great Hallelujah in history, but we are still living the story, still anticipating part three of the concert, when at last suffering and injustice and this incurable longing we live with will end and the baby Jesus, who became the sinless Lamb of God, will receive the glory He deserves. When "death will be swallowed up in victory."

And the standing up and sitting back down part carries such significance, doesn't it?

After years and years of Handel's Messiah, how many people have risen, and been seated . . .

This year,
How many times have I risen in praise, and fallen in sin
How many times have I risen in hope, and fallen in disappointment
How many times have I risen in joy, and fallen in depression
How many times have I risen in love, and fallen in selfishness

This year,
How many kingdoms have risen, and fallen
How much progress has risen, and how much destruction has fallen
How much suffering has been relieved, and how much has been created
How much courage has risen, and how much corruption has fallen

This mistaken rising as though the concert were finished, though laughable, is oddly comforting and hopeful.

This world is not the way that it should be, nor is it the way it will always be.

The Lamb of God, risen on the Cross, laid in a tomb.
On the third day, Risen.
Hallelujah!
Now seated in Heaven.
Waiting, with us, for part three.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thoughts on Frank Schaeffer interview

So why was I so fascinated by the Terry Gross interview with Frank Schaeffer?  I'll try to briefly summarize (and by the way, I missed the first part when he apparently spoke about being pro-life but keeping abortion legal, so I have no opinion on that).

I only have time to do my best from memory, forgive me that I cannot quote him directly.  

His candid testimony of growing up at L'Abri, the son of one of the most influential Christian thinkers of his generation . . . he said that people would come up to him and want to touch him, because he was the son of Francis Schaeffer . . . but that he saw the side of his dad that Christian culture never knew, and that no one is his family ever spoke of.  His father suffered from depression, was often suicidal, violent, and angry.  He talked about seeing his father scream at and even hit his mother, and then go down and preach a sermon.  I felt that he told this very honestly and graciously, portraying his father simply as a man who struggled with sin and despair just like everyone.

His decision to leave evangelicalism and become Greek Orthodox.  He described the liturgy of the church as pebbles that the waves of time have tested and smoothed, and compared it to evangelicalism that is based on the personality of a leader.  And, because churches are so heavily dependent on that person, when there is a moral failure, or problems arise, or that particular leader leaves, the church falls apart.  This made me pause.  Though I can see the flaws of orthodoxy, I can appreciate the value of history and tradition, and I have to agree with him that there can be flaws in the way our churches can become personality-driven.

His choice to not become an atheist.  This was perhaps my favorite part of the interview.  I loved his honesty.  Terry Gross asked him why he didn't leave the faith completely, and he said that he just doesn't know why . . . he said that he doesn't know what part of him makes him want to believe in God, whether it is how he was conditioned from the way he was raised, or whether he really does believe.  All that he knew, he said, was that if he were to make the choice to become an atheist, the first thing that he would have to do is pray and ask God to help him to be an atheist, and that for some reason his day isn't right when he hasn't begun it in prayer.  I was glad to hear an intellectual, skeptic viewpoint who still found that his faith had survived.

He also said a lot of good stuff about politics, his life at L'Abri, and how the Religious Right began with great sincerity and compassion, what happened when spiritual pride and quests for power entered, and how it ended as such a wreck.

I don't know why this interview so impacted me.  Maybe it is what Frank Schaeffer represents:  the son of the man who so greatly influenced the generation of Christianity that I was raised in; a thinker, philosopher, artist . . . who has lived through much of the glory and the hypocrisy attached to faith, and has emerged honestly, humbly, admitting failure, but still clinging to something ultimately Good and True.

I grew up hearing about this man Schaeffer, who people claimed was a prophet.  I leafed through books on my parents' shelf with fascinating titles, "How Should We Then Live,"  "True Spirituality," "He is There and He is Not Silent."  In college, I was influenced by his book "Art and the Bible," one of the only books on art that I found from an evangelical perspective.  And there was Frank's book on Christianity and art, "Addicted to Mediocrity."  When I got married I poured over Edith Schaeffer's book, "L'Abri," and dreamed of ministry so natural as home, and friendship, and shared meals, and curiosity, and conversations.   

His book Crazy for God is on my list to read, and I'm buying it for my dad for Christmas.

I did try to search for other blogs discussing this interview, but aside from the typical Laodicea insults and some liberal mainstream accolade, I didn't find much to chew on.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fresh Air Interview with Frank Schaeffer

Did you happen to catch this interview with Frank Schaeffer on Fresh Air today?

Wow.

The header is about his position on abortion, but that's really not the main point, or most important part of the interview.  I think I even missed that part, so it must have been the first fifteen minutes . . . the rest of the interview he talked about his book, Crazy For God; How I grew up as one of the elect, helped found the Religious Right, and lived to take it all (or almost all) of it back.

(Frank Schaeffer is the son of late Francis Schaeffer; minister, writer, philosopher).

I know not many of us have an extra 39 minutes of free time . . . but this is the best interview I have heard on Fresh Air, and one of the most thought-provoking concerning the Church, that I have heard in a long time.

If you listened, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I'm hoping to scout Blog-land tomorrow to catch what people are saying about it, and I'll try to post what I find.

    

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Not My Fault

This morning:

"Mommy, I got marker on the bed."

Me: seeing huge, bold, black strokes covering a ten inch square on the bedspread
"Sami!  You did this on purpose!"

"Yes."

"You know that is wrong."

"Yes."

"Then why did you do it?"

"I didn't have any paper, so it's not my fault."

Now, I confess that I am a bad mother and the first thing I could do was burst out laughing at that last statement.  Because, as much as I think she is so much like her father, in this instance, she is her MOTHER.  Those words came out of my mouth SO MANY times growing up!  I could just SEE my parents gloating as she said it, telling me that my time has come.  I am dealing with MYSELF.

"It's not my fault."

It made perfect sense, to me, that it wasn't my fault when I wrecked the car.  There was ICE and I SLID.  How could that be my fault?

It made sense, every time I dropped a plate, (which happened, oh, every night.  Adolescence was NOT a graceful time for me) that this was not something I INTENDED to do, was OBVIOUSLY an ACCIDENT, and therefore NOT MY FAULT.

And my Dad, and Mom, and brothers, would laugh, and still enjoy mocking me with my laissez-faire approach to personal responsibility.

So when Sami said it wasn't her fault, it knocked me over.  And it so related to some things that I have been thinking and praying about, that I just could not miss the application . . .

I've been thinking a lot about sin, and it's consequences, and a few of the things I had written just this morning regarding sin were so applicable:
I chose to sin when:
-I thought maybe this (temptation) was my only choice (I want to color and all there is is this bed).
-boredom (there's nothing to do, I'll just color on the bed)
-I remember longing to change, but feeling trapped even though I really wasn't. I thought I couldn't leave but I totally could have. My prison wasn't real (There is this marker in my hand.  I happen to by lying on the bed.  I have no choice but to color on it).

And here's the thing:  I am an artist.  There is NOTHING I LOVE more than to see my child coloring, or painting, and to color and paint with her . . . if she had asked I would have given her great piles of paper!  Rooms of paper!  If I have anything to do with it, my daughter will NEVER run out of PAPER!  Ever.  

And I think of the God of JOY who must surely have these vast OCEANS of JOY that He's willing to give us, and the God of PEACE that is bigger than MOUNTAINS, and LOVE, and WISDOM, and HOPE . . . all of these things that God doesn't just think are nice, but He embodies them!  He has limitless resources of these things, and gives them freely, LAVISHLY, joyfully to His children when we ask.  Surely, He even hopes we will make good use of them, that we will just try and see if we can't use up all the rooms of paper or joy or wisdom that He has to give us.

But it requires that tiny step of faith, that act of will to RESIST the right NOW; resist coloring on the bed, being satisfied with less, resist believing the lie that this is all there is, the only choice, as good as it gets . . . and come to Him.
God never coerces us . . . When we choose deliberately to obey Him, then He will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us with all His almighty power.     -Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tradition, TRADITION!


This year my oldest daughter is three.  Old enough to begin to understand and appreciate Christmas.  And this year, for the first time I feel like I have the time to focus on Christmas.  It suddenly occurred to me that it is my turn now, to begin establishing traditions, to find creative ways to make Christmas meaningful and memorable, to create a calm and joyful atmosphere for my family.   So I have been putting some thought into it, collecting some ideas, and beginning what will hopefully be the first of many years of Christmas traditions in our home.

Yesterday we made this advent calendar.  I found the idea from Maya Made, (Do you read this blog?  LOVE IT) but I didn't have toilet paper rolls so I made my own little envelopes out of brown packing paper.  I was somewhat satisfied with how they turned out, but have some ideas for next year and was thinking how fun it would be to collect poems, quotes, thoughts, and scripture, and put together my own Advent devotions for each day, then give them as gifts.  Maybe next year I'll plan ahead!

Personally, I am really enjoying this online advent calendar from Christianity Today.

For this year, I am planning to write simple devotions that a three year old can understand, and I'll also include some "prizes," such as a special time with Mom or Dad, or an occasional family movie, late-night walk, etc., in the form of tickets, as suggested by Maya. 

I had hoped to do a Jesse Tree this year, and ordered a kit that never arrived, so maybe next year.  

Some other simple suggestions for family traditions that I am planning to begin this year are:
- when setting out the nativity, keep Baby Jesus and wrap him in a small box, to be opened by one child on Christmas Eve.  We'll read the Christmas story, and then place baby Jesus in the manger.
-On Christmas Eve, turn out the lights and let each person light a candle.  Talk about the past year, share blessings and stories, gives thanks as a family.
-I am going to begin a Christmas journal, that I will keep packed away with the Christmas decorations during the year.  In it I'll record the traditions we started, any special recipes that I want to remember, and write about special guests, events, or things that happened that Christmas.  Each year we can remember Christmases past, and it will help me to not forget the traditions we started!

And of course, there's cookie baking, decorating, a little shopping, and gift wrapping.  

I hope to instill in my children the value of handmade gifts.  Looking around my home, I think that this should come naturally.  Our house is filled with furniture and toys made by my grandfather (who lost one arm, by the way!), and clothes and quilts sewn by my grandmother.  I think we need to keep these old-fashioned handicrafts alive, and I really want to pass the satisfaction of creativity on to my children.  I am planning to come up with small gifts for them to make and give.  This year, so far I have only found one gift appropriate for a three year old to make:  bookmarks.  Does anyone have any other ideas?  We also did some potato-print wrapping paper, which I could also do for sets of notecards.

I am planning to make Sami this and Anna this.  (I'm not much of a sewer, but these I think I can handle).

Small Notebook has some good suggestions for creating holiday traditions.  I like her approach:
I just want to make sure our family’s traditions are truly ours, and not what’s recommended by a magazine’s “must-have” list. I’m trying to let the joy of Christmas sink in, not put on an exhausting one-woman show.      
I am sure that the most important role for Mom is creating a home that is pleasant, not perfect, at Christmas or anytime.  

(I love that "creating" word.  Being a stay-at-home-Mom is challenging, often mundane, days are long, sometimes lonely.  But it's the most creative thing I've ever done).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rest

I happened to be out at about 8:00 on Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, and drove past our local Wal-Mart.  (Thankfully, I was not out to fight the madness at Wal-Mart, but rather to meander through my favorite Anti-Wal-Mart across the street, Big Lots!  I live in a small town people.  We don't have many options.  I seriously do love Big Lots . . . it is the best place for cereal, usually name brands are two bucks a (dented, banged-up) box, and you just never know what you're going to find there, which is part of the fun . . . ). 

So I drove past Wal-Mart and the parking lot is just totally packed, cars everywhere, and it is COLD, and late, and Thanksgiving is the next day, and I felt this overwhelming sadness for that place and the people there, loading up their carts, dragging their kids along and fighting through all those long glaring aisles.  I imagined how many moms like me were there, at the end of a long day, in a frenzy to buy all those last-minute ingredients for a meal that they don't know how to prepare but must somehow pull off.   I thought of the kids who haven't seen their parents all day and when they do they will be stressed-out, and tired, and won't have time to tell their kids what Thanksgiving means.  

I could rant and rave about all the things I hate about Wal-Mart, but Wednesday night I just felt like weeping for the country that produced Wal-Mart, for our consumerist society that requires it, and for the people shopping, who are trying so hard but only growing more frazzled, and tired, and unhappy, and bored. 
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.  Matt.11.28,29
Friday we learned about this.
God help us.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I'm Not Thankful For

I read Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power of Positive Thinking, when I was in High School and I know now, looking back, that it's probably a lot of bologna, but at the time it really did transform my thought processes, and the way I chose to see things.  And we are commanded to give thanks IN all circumstances (not "for" all), and to "rejoice always."  With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I'd share a few of the things that I'm not thankful for, but am. 

I am thankful for our broken dishwasher.  That our landlord seems to have no intention of fixing.  I hate doing dishes, but I hate piles of dirty dishes even more, so I do them.  Regularly.  I'm finding that the time I spend standing at the sink can be a much-needed parenthesis in my day . . . time to think and get my head straight.  Time to ponder the most recent problem, time to creatively think of a solution, time to plan the rest of the day.  Time, especially, to pray.  

I am thankful for the emotional onslaughts my three-year old is currently giving us because, when I am the most exasperated, the most unsure of what to do, the most overwhelmed by the problem, I am given a glimpse at just how dependent I am on the Lord for wisdom and grace, of how desperately I need Him to work in the hearts of my children.  It drives me to my knees.  Now, I choose to see these times as God's gracious reminders to pray hard for my family.

I am thankful for the intensely difficult first two years of Sami's life, because after so many sleepless nights nothing else seems too hard.  

I am thankful for our apartment.  At the time of our life when most people are moving into a larger home, we downsized to a two-bedroom apartment this year.  I have found so many reasons to be thankful for this:
-I am thankful that we aren't trying to sell a house right now.  We've been there, and it is not fun.  
-I am thankful that this apartment allows us to be so free.  We didn't even have to sign a lease, so, in theory, if we wanted to move to California next month we could . . . or we can at least dream about moving.
-I am thankful for no maintenance.  Our evenings and weekends are completely ours, we can spend them however we wish and not spend them doing house repairs or raking leaves.
-I am thankful that our home is so small.  It takes me one hour to thoroughly clean it, or a few minutes a couple times a day, and I have lots more time for other things.
-I am thankful that we live here with small children.  My kids can play all over the entire house and I can have my eye on them, there are no steps to chase them up or formal rooms to worry about them messing.
-I am thankful for simplicity.  It was a very cleansing process to get rid of any and everything that was not "useful, meaningful, or beautiful."  
-I am thankful that less space means fewer toys, for my children and us.  We go to the library instead of buying books, wear-out the toys we have, and find creative ways to play.
-I am thankful for the coziness.  
-I am thankful for fairly low rent, and no mortgage!

I am thankful for a tight budget, because I kind-of enjoy the challenge to be creative, it reminds me to feel grateful, and actually helps me to be content.  (Simplicity is a blessing!)

I am thankful that Sami no longer naps . . . No, sorry, I'm still not thankful for that. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Blog's bumper sticker: "Please don't give up on me, Jess isn't finished with me yet"

One time I was going through some old books and a little slip of paper fell out of one that I probably read last when I was in the fifth grade, and it was a list of things that I could do that day, things like "ride my bike, read, paint, plan a party," and the funny thing is I'm still making those lists and they still include somewhat the same things.

I have an inability to prioritize.  Sometimes I am paralyzed by it.

There are just SO many things I would love to do!  
bake, read, write, blogs, comments, facebook, become informed, advocate, help people, make a difference, make all my own Christmas presents, do fun things with my kids, bazillions of ideas I run across on blogs and I want to do them all!!! . . . and simplify.  Did I mention simplify?  Oh, and be fully present with my kids.  And be a more supportive wife.  And study my Bible.  Pray more.  Journal.  Adopt a child.  Or ten children.  And invest more in mine.  Have more authentic relationships.  Re-prioritize old friends.  Invite people over.  Playdates.  Have a party.  Exercise.  When do I exercise?  Be more creative.  Catch-up on email.  Don't just email, write.  Buy a card.  Or make one. Figure out twitter.  And everything else.  Work on my blog.  Post more.  Post better.  Comment more.  Subscribe.  Subscribe.  Subscribe.  Catch-up on my reader.  Comment.  Check my email. Refresh.  Find a way to make some money.  Pray about making money.  Be content but still try to make some money.  Look at our budget.  Again.  Clip more coupons.  Give more hugs.  Laugh more.  Be more patient.  Am I remembering everything?  Teach Sami to write her name she doesn't know how to write her name yet.  Christmas.  Decorate.  Traditions.  I must begin our family traditions.  Meaningful Christmas.  Simple Christmas.  But still memorable.  Which means food, and presents, and decorate.  But simple.  Music.  Does Sami know jingle bells?  Last year I forgot jingle bells.  Anna.  I think I'm neglecting Anna.  She's so content, what does Anna need?  Sensory toys.  I should make her some sensory toys.  In a box.  A treasure box!  I'll paint a treasure box and make her some sensory toys!  Because this year everything must be wood or felt and handmade. By their mother.  Right after I finish this post.  And get Anna who's crying.  And give the kids quality time.  And educational time.  And plenty of creative time.  And go buy more laundry detergent.  And finish the laundry.  And pick up the house.  Again.  Before Jim get's home.  And after we have a nice quiet evening.  With quality family time.  And my husband and I have quality conversation.  And I finish the dishes because my dishwasher's broken.  And why is the house a mess again?  If I could just get up earlier.  Tomorrow I'll get up earlier.

And I'd really like to have a clean house, healthy meals, and be a good mom at the same time.  

And my three year old doesn't nap anymore.  Ever.  What do I do with a three year old who doesn't nap, has her sister asleep in their room, and isn't allowed to watch too much t.v.?  

I'm getting zero alone time.

And getting nothing done.

If this blog is growing increasingly lamer, this is why.

I'm working on it.

I don't want to give up my blog.  But really, for my own sanity, something needs to go.  

I'm just trying to figure out what.

"Lord, teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom . . ."
Psalm 90.12

Friday, November 21, 2008

When saw we thee?

Today I thought I'd write about motherhood.   But then I ran across this link from this precious person, (several other profound links from her today) and my mommy-mush seems much less important.  I think you need to look.  
"You realize how absolutely blessed you are by the fate of your soul coming down the chute in the United States of America," she says. "You wonder: Why did this happen to me and not to them?' '' 
I can't stop thinking about Matthew 25, when it says
the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  (vv 37-40)  
There has never been more information.  Did you click the link?  You saw it.  I see it.  We know, and SEE the hungry and sick and imprisoned every time we turn on our television or click on our computer.  There is no excuse that we didn't see.  

It struck me that these verses immediately follow the parable of the talents, really it's the same passage.  Why have I never noticed this before!   Is this not the most profoundly simple and direct answer to the question, "What should I do with my life"?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

any ideas?

I give up and have to go read to my daughter . . . I've looked on help topics, changed my feedburner . . . does anybody have any suggestions?

(The world really will be ruled by technology-Lords one day.  They will be fourteen year old boys who will encrypt their secrets and only leak out random useless information in twitter updates to the starving masses).

what about now?

annoying . . . 

testing

this is so annoying

OneWAP

Sunday marks the occasion of this blog acquiring it's TENTH subscriber.  Oh yes, it's true.  One Wild and Precious Life is in the double digits.  (Dooce and The Bloggess , One WAP is in the neighborhood).

But I've been made aware of some technical problems (apparently if my blog is in a sidebar roll, it says that the last time I updated was three months ago), and being the techy-guru that I am, I'm pretty sure that when I begin fiddling with buttons that I know nothing about, there's a good chance my blog or who knows my home and entire family may be deleted from the earth. 

So, to my ten loyal subscribers of which only two is myself and my mom, if you don't receive another post from me in the next day or so, please come back and subscribe again . . . and hopefully www.jesstock.blogspot.com will still exist and not have landed into the URL of somebody's blog about algebra, or household pets, or something equally disturbing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I know this is true

I am tired of being so flaky.  I have been indecisive, uncertain, and afraid of offending people for too long . . . ok, for ever.  So, I'm working on a list of some things that I do believe.  I know there must be a few things that I don't question . . . here's the first that come to mind:

I believe in:



Beauty (that makes my heart adore Him)

the Bible

(end of the B's)

My daily, hourly need for forgiveness

Grace

The Cross

Mercy is always the right choice . . .well, usually . . . (there I go!)

That I have the sweetest, loveliest, most lovable little girls ever

the possibility of Peace

Wal-mart isn't the savings place (I always buy more when I go there)

It is possible to live on one income (for us, but of course not always)

Art can save lives

There are miracles everywhere

The grace you give to the world returns to you

Optimism

That it's impossible for me to blog when my kids are awake

I'm going to keep thinking on this . . . more to come

Monday, November 17, 2008

Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.  -G.K.Chesterton
 


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Baking Bread

Be gentle
   when you touch bread.
 Let it not lie
   uncared for, unwanted.
So often bread
is taken for granted.
There is so much beauty in bread-
Beauty of sun and soil,
Beauty of patient toil,
Winds and rains have caressed it,
   Christ often blessed it.
Be gentle
   when you touch bread.

-Author Unknown

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kiddio, one of my favorite blogs for kids crafts and ideas- check it out! had a great post this week called Keeping your Sanity when Your Spouse is out of Town.  There are so many useful ideas for mothers who have to be a single parent from time to time.  And full-time single parents?  All my respect!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Staying Alive

Thick grey has settled over Ohio now, and we'll exist in a mushy dark world for oh, about the next six months.  It's sorta like how moving into an underground bomb shelter must feel, knowing that you won't see outside life for a long long time, unsure of your own survival.  Fog has settled in my mind and I feel like I can't think, I've fumbled around all week and spent a lot of time feeling lost and confused and irritated and like I'm doing nothing well.  I'm sure this state of mind is triggered by environmental factors, but it's made worse by hormones as well. Which is just one more reason why I LOVED lactating and wish I could do it for the rest of my life.

So I'm in a funk and struggling to find my way out.  These are some ways I'm coping:

Get out of the house.  Somedays, just being in the car with both kids strapped into carseats is the easiest part of my day.  I like to plan trips around NPR so I can actually listen to something without interruption for a few minutes.

Go outside!  Even if it's cold, it's not too cold for little bodies to run.  We went to the park yesterday around 4:00, came home, ate supper and I gave them LONG, extra warm baths, and they were both asleep by 7:15.  This is a miracle.  (I have had to give-up expecting naps from my three-year old, but this usually pays off with easy bedtimes).

Create!  I have growing lists of projects I want to dig-into, and on days when I just can't get it together, we break-out art supplies, don't think about the mess, and let COLOR heal us.

Turn-off the computer.  Somedays it is a black hole, and I find myself drawn to it too much through the day, checking email, doing quick searches or reading in short bursts, that ends up wasting a lot of time and keeps me distracted from my kids . . . it creates anxiety and I am trying have more times when it is shut.

I do much better when I have weekly goals for myself.  They keep me motivated, and I don't waste as much time when I know what I want to accomplish.  I try to plan these at the beginning of the week.  My week fell apart this week because I didn't have a clear plan for what I wanted to get done.

Get more sleep.

Light candles, make a cup of tea, wear sweats.  

Chocolate helps.

Read fiction.  I have gotten really bad about just reading things I think I "should" read, like parenting books, etc., and then find myself not making time to read because I'm not as absorbed in them.

Write about it.  When I am ticked, sometimes writing a letter to the person, but not sending it, can help.

Pray.  Pray for peace.  Pray for self-control.  Pray for a guard over your mouth.  Pray for a pure heart.  Repeat. Be thankful God's grace is greater.

Find your favorite people to be with.  And a babysitter if you have to.  (I had TWO- count them, TWO girls' nights out this week.  I am not normally so blessed, but this week, They Saved Me).  This is also where Nana and Papa come in; they're all of our favorites.

Learn something new.

Even when you don't feel like it, (being patient with my kids, being a fun mom), act like you do. 

My husband has been working out of town the past two months (I haven't wanted to publish that but he's finally done now and will be home again during the week!  So stay away psycho-paths . . . ).  To cope, I tried to do fun things we wouldn't normally do, like go shopping and out to eat, or anything to make the evenings go faster.

. . . oh no,  I just looked at the calendar and realized that we're only half way through November!  What are some ways you cope with winter?  Or find your way out of the funk?

"My worst fear is that there is no PMS and this is my personality"
-a mug my mother got me. . . was she trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From Fourth Grade til Now

There Isn't Time!

(Eleanor Farjeon)

There isn't time, there isn't time
To do the things I want to do,
With all the mountain-tops to climb,
And all the woods to wander through,
And all the seas to sail upon,
And everywhere there is to go,
And all the people, every one
Who lives upon the earth, to know.
There's only time, there's only time
To know a few, and do a few,
And then sit down and make a rhyme
About the rest I want to do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What are you learning about God? Part3


There is a large population of Amish in the area where I grew up and now live.  After living among and working with the Amish my entire life, I still cannot understand why they view cars, electricity, and telephones (but not cell phones) as sinful.  Or why the Amish women continue to submit themselves to head-coverings and simple dresses (even in the dead of winter, as they are riding bicycles to work).  Usually, when I ask younger Amish today why they hold to such strict religious rules, they only say that it is their tradition, a matter of being separate from the world.

I have a great deal of respect for the Amish and their simple ways.  There are lessons we all could learn from their frugality, modesty, hard work, and sense of community.  

And I have to believe that there was a day years ago when the Amish had very good reasons for the way they interpreted remaining "separate from the world" and choosing to maintain a very simple lifestyle.  Surely with new technology came new fears, new appearances of worldliness, and the Amish church was probably very sincere in their attempts at being a holy, set-apart people.

But along the way their desire to please God was formed into laws and they stopped.  changing. 

Change is necessary in every generation.  Every church experiences change, must change, must question the rules of their culture and let go of the things that no longer have life in them. 
Christ called it pruning the branches that don't bear fruit.  

There was a time when wearing your nicest clothes on Sunday represented giving your Best to God.  Maybe it was born out of a period of depression, when there weren't many nice clothes and so one outfit was kept for Sundays.  But over time, when the outward appearance became a religious "measuring stick", it became apparent that this had become a dead branch and not a life-giving branch, and had to be pruned, to the chagrin of many in the  pantyhose-tugging older generation, who still (I'll assume the best here) were adorned in their uncomfortable Sunday finest to reflect the place that Christ held in their lives.  

I posted a letter from Jim Wallis to James Dobson . . . 

These men represent change in our generation.  And change is scary.  

James Dobson has been a voice for morality and the family for many years.  Many of us were raised by parents directly influenced by his teaching.  But James Dobson will not speak for the next generation.  God is raising up new leaders, with new vision, who are seeing things that our parents missed, or are speaking out against traditions or rules that no longer have life in them.  (It bothered me that  Dobson inferred that the "younger evangelicals" were responsible for swaying the vote to Obama and therefore, apparently, ushering in the doom and destruction of America.  Surely Dobson himself went against certain traditions in Christianity when he began his ministry??  It seems to me, judging from history, that this is how God works).

I really believe that God works in the youth of a culture.  I think that God gives the young among us eyes to see hypocrisy, and ears to hear what His Spirit is saying to the Church.  We would do well to hear them.  (I've heard a theory that some of the disciples could have been as young as 12 or 13.  I like to think of this when I see our youth, and I wonder sometimes, if I am already too old to really "get it," and if the best thing for me to do is to step back and learn from the "prophets" of our youth ).  

On Election Day morning I opened my Bible to this:

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Psalm 90.1
and,
For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations. 
Psalm 100.5
Praise God!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder.  Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe.  Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his, to the Father through the features of mens' faces.  Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number.  I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to see the wonder of it all.
Joshua Abraham Heschel

Friday, November 7, 2008

What are you learning about God? Part2

It's about Jesus not religion.  

I was always warned about the "other" religions, but I'm learning that it's not that simple.  Religion is a matter of your heart.  Anyone, in any church, can become religious.  It's quite easy.  

Religion happens when any church or any believer refuses to change.

But because the Youth Group Girl with a guilty conscience is still in there somewhere, and because my whole life I have been SO trained to protect, guard, defend . . . BEWARE OF CHANGE, . . . I have these moments of panic when I think, I must be so wrong.  No one else sees it like this . . . the heart is deceitful, I must be deceiving myself . . . I've become what I've been warned about . . . and the temptation is there to crawl back into what is familiar, popular, safe.

But how do you know the difference between "holding fast to sound doctrine," and having the "eyes of your understanding enlightened . . . "?  

Because . . . as much as I fear change, following Christ requires it. . . there is just so much to say here . . . 
I daily ask God to change me, to reveal any hidden sin in me, to open my eyes to see Him more clearly, understand His Truth more fully . . . .
We are to "walk" in the Spirit" and "keep in step" with the Spirit.
God is always doing a "new thing," it is up to us to "perceive" it.
We are told to GROW . . . "grow in grace and knowledge."
God is always working in ways we could not expect.  

A spiritual life that has stopped growing and changing is stunted, sour . . . religious.
A spiritual life that must rely on another person for truth is parasitic, fetal . . . religious.
A spiritual life that grows around unresolved anger or unhealthy emotions becomes cancerous, legalistic . . . religious.

After many years and many churches, I've learned to spot religion, and recognize it in myself as well

When I am religious, I am insecure.  I worry more about my appearance, like how I look physically, or if I've said the right thing, made the right impression.  I care more about what people think of me. When I am abiding in Christ I know that I am wildly loved and accepted, and that is such a safe place.

When I am religious, I doubt myself and my own relationship with God and the Bible, and therefore reading Scripture is less exciting and more dutiful.  When I am abiding in Christ, I find Him everywhere, His Word echoes off of everything I see and do.

When I am abiding in Christ I find the freedom to create.  When I am religious I can only maintain.

Religious people are angry.  Abiding in Christ I find the grace of love, joy, peace, patience . .. .

When I am religious I feel "called" to more, serve more, do more.  When I am abiding in Christ I feel called to harder things, like loving my enemies, and doing good to those who hate me.

In religion people know Truth, and use Truth to criticize, slander, gossip . . . people who are walking with Christ know Wisdom, which is gentle, peaceable, easy to be entreated . . . .

Religion makes me skeptical.  Christ makes me hopeful.
 
From silly devotions and from sour-faced saints, Good Lord, deliver us.
-Teresa of Avila 

(I thought I wouldn't have to put a disclaimer here but maybe I do . . . Jesus, salvation, sin, the Bible . . . the foundation doesn't change).


What are you learning about God? Part1

I've been really meaning to write my own thoughts about the election this week . . . but now it's Friday and that is SO three days ago . . . so I thought I'd rather answer this question that I ran across, because the two are closely related.

"What did you learn about God this year?"

But, I'm going to re-phrase the question to, "What are you still learning about God?"

(Okay this is the long-winded boring part where I tell about all of my painful church experiences (because I'm the only one with a painful church story . . . blah blah blah . . .).  

Abbreviated version:  Christian home.  Started out Mennonite . . . Free Methodist . . . Non-denominational . . . Nazarene College . . . taught at a Christian school . . . then an interdenominational school in Haiti . . . came home and met a Baptist missionary . . . then he became a pastor . . . married him anyway . . . recently left the ministry . . . currently searching, stretching, growing, loving . . . . 

I know that I met Jesus when I was in the third grade.  When I was a kid I was probably even more devout than I am now.  I did my devotions every morning like my life depended on it, witnessed to my friends, went to youth group like, every day, didn't have sex or do anything fun, felt guilty all the time, offended some people I wish I hadn't, put a Jesus fish on my first car, was voted most likely to be a missionary.  

So then I got my first experience with something ugly and hurtful that happened in a church and directly affected me, and I was devastated.  Then another thing happened.  Then something else.  So God allowed all of these hard church things to happen in a couple different churches in a really short amount of time to an insecure chubby girl whose whole life depended on her church.

And it broke my heart and for a while I wallowed and felt rejected and lonely, but every morning I got up and tried to read my Bible and figure it all out and pretty soon I realized that yes everything had changed but really nothing changed, because God was still my God and in fact He seemed even nearer than in my Youth Group days when I was so right and everyone else was so wrong.  

So this was just the beginning of a recurring theme in my life:  that just when I think I have God figured out, I think He and I are all good and everything makes sense and I'm about to hang some curtains and decorate . . . that this is when I start to hear him knocking again and I look around and realize that once again I'd built a box and left Jesus out, and once again he's outside my box knocking and hoping I'll let Him in (because He's so very Good like that.  He just keeps knocking) . . . and I have to say that every time I've come to the place of opening the door, that a great gust of wind has entered in with him and blown everything apart around me.

This is where I stand today; feeling unfamiliar, exposed. 

But I've been here before.  And that's the other recurring theme:

I always find Him more beautiful, His truth is more dazzling, The Gospel bigger, His Word more alive.  

Life with Him is safer, and more dangerous, than before.  Harder, and more glorious.

(to be continued . . . )

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

". . . if she had just said she was a lesbian."

The story of a Baptist pastor's wife who voted for Obama

Christine is a pastor's wife who has not only dug-into her Bible to understand how to believe, but has a lifestyle to match.  (Crazy, I know).  Her blog is worth subscribing to- it never fails to intelligently convict and inspire me.

(My own opinion coming soon . . . if my big three year old ever decides to nap again . . . ).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Donald Miller tells why


A lot of what he says here is my story, written much more eloquently than I ever could.  I even went to the camp in Colorado that he refers to! 

For those seeking to understand "younger evangelicals" with the "potential to sway the vote to Obama," this article will provide you some insight. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jim Wallis to James Dobson

There is a lot that could be said about the election, but too much already being said.  

As a Christian who grew up in the James Dobson era, this letter is important.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Anna Full of Joy

Dear Anna Joy,

I can't believe you are one year old today.  

This was a hard year but it was a joyous year.  You arrived on a sunny Friday, because Fridays are happy days.  Party days.  The end of work and the beginning of play.  And that is so You, my Anna Joy.

You didn't have a name for a long time.  I had a stack of name books by my bed and I would just look at you and wonder . . . your Dad was gone that day and it rained and I was alone with you, just amazed and wondering how to put a name on this miracle.  

I knew that it had to be a graceful name because in the womb you danced so gracefully.  I imagined that you would grow to be elegant and kind and quietly joyful.  I still do.  

Anna.  For it's purity and grace.  The way it sits on your tongue between a breath and a song.  And for the wise women I read whose names are some form of Anne, beautiful women who have wrestled with God and beauty and who are still laughing, still prophecy-ing and giving thanks, still spotting Jesus even in their old age, like the prophetess Anna.

Joy is for the joy we believed in when I was so sick that I thought I'd rather die were it not for the hope you gave me.  And because you taught us about the Cross, the pain that Christ endured for the joy that was set before Him.  You were a prophetess even then, for we didn't yet know what pain was still ahead or I'm sure we don't know now what we will be asked to endure . . . but the Joy!  Yes, you remind us everyday that there is joy on the other side and this year, Anna, you were my peaceful, sweet spot of pure joy through it all.

You have lots of names, of course.  On the day we brought you home Papa called you Peanut and it stuck.  Sister calls you And, which seems so appropriate.  Or there's the longer version, Anna-Full-of-Joy-and-Happiness.  I love your name, Annie.

I love you for your eyes that shine and for your impish grin that precedes wild giggles and how you seem to already have a knack for practical jokes.  

I love the way that anything that sounds like music will make you dance, even the dishwasher.  

I love how you lay on the floor and kick your legs when you're sleepy, and the way you cuddle up and suck your thumb when I hold you . . . and then for the way that you go to sleep and stay asleep that is nothing short of the greatest act of mercy a child can have on her parents.  

I love that your default is set to joy, the joyous approach that you have to life.  You burst into our world last year with your laughing eyes and charm, and our world is brighter, lighter, more joyful because of you, Sweet Anna Joy. 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

or anything but hope

Strong opinions do not come easily for me.  Even having an opinion at all is sometimes difficult.  I am working on it.  Opinions are important.  They point you in a direction.  They will you.  They ground you.  

Usually my lack of an opinion is simply because I can see both sides of an issue, and cannot commit to one.  Black and white is hard for me.  We do not live in a black and white world.  We function in a million shades of color that are not always easily defined.   

People who define things so easily are hard for me.  People who arrive are hard for me.  How do you arrive?  How do you know when you've arrived, and when do you stop searching?  

They may shake their heads and lament our generation of questioning everything, but they must accept that questions still remain.  We live with them, step around them every day, all day long.  One doesn't have to admit that there is uncertainty, or pry it open, for it yet to exist all around him.  

I am quite comfortable with being unsure about a lot of things.  There are many things that I have never figured out, or thought I had but now realize I don't, and maybe never will.  I am ok with that.

Life lived among shadows is nothing new.  If anything, living without mystery is something new, something that could only evolve in our own well-lit, well-informed society.  

Consider, when was the last time you took a long walk in the dark?  Ever?  Do we ever find ourselves separated from electricity long enough to look up, to marvel, to become aware of the glorious  mystery all around?

We so easily flip a switch, and the mystery evaporates.  It is only the familiar world we know in the light.  And so we assume familiarity with all things.  We examine, and probe, and define, until things make enough sense to satisfy us and we stop. searching.  We arrive.

But shining lights are in fact only shutting out the true reality, the true breath of mystery that hovers all around us.  We cannot turn enough lights on to make it go away.  We cannot answer enough questions.  There will always be more.

Why be afraid of the dark?  

Maybe our generation is in fact old-fashioned . . . maybe rather those who live without questions, who can make so much sense of everything, are they who have adopted the modern worldview.  It is, in fact, a quite new idea, to live without mystery.

In societies that spent time under the stars, there were people who followed them.  In places where it was quiet enough, angels appeared.   An unsuspecting woman gave birth to God.

I am glad that I can say with Paul that I know whom I have believed (2 Tim 1.12) . . . and, along with Paul, that it is fellowship of the mystery (Eph.3.9) . . . .

I want to embrace the mystery.

From the library yesterday, we brought home Owl Moon . . . 
When you go owling
you don't need words 
or warm 
or anything but hope.
That's what Pa says.
The kind of hope
that flies
on silent wings
under a shining
Owl Moon

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

About Me

Eight Random Things About Me 



Hopeful. Loved.  Lover.  Life.

This, is for my husband, who would appreciate it, if I would use more, commas



Dear, Husband, and Dad, Daddy, Jim,

We, your family, one wife, two daughters, would like to tell you, how much we miss you, when you are gone.  We each, find our own methods, for coping.  Oldest, enjoys painting.  Youngest, eating.  Wife, and mother, drinks too much coffee, because she just can't sleep, without you.

We also want to thank you, Daddy, for a wonderful, happy, happy, Birthday, weekend.  Thank-you, for the birthday dates, at Steak and Shake.  For taking your girls shopping, and out of the house, so Mom, could decorate.  And, when you came home, for not complaining, or even mentioning, well only once, that just maybe, Mom went a teeny bit, overboard, on birthdays, this year.  And, for even, appearing, delighted, when everything, in your home, turned peptobismal pink, and glittery.

We, your girls, love you dearly, and don't worry, at least half, of the pepto-pink, will be put away, when you get home.



Monday, October 20, 2008

Practicing the Presence, for mothers

Finding myself distracted, shallow, complacent . . . unsure at moments which direction to turn, what is the next thing, what is the best thing?  I have found the internet and blogging to be a way out of the common loneliness of staying at home, but sometimes I let it become a way to keep me distracted and busy but not really doing anything.  My mind becomes jumbled with information that I cannot process, my anxieties increase as I run across so many ideas and things to do that I will never have time for, and my insecurities are revealed as I compare myself with people I don't know but whose blogs make them seem super-human, perfect, something I will never attain.  

I am growing more and more anxious and aware of my need to find my rest in God, to hide-out in Him a while.  

The Practice of the Presence of God, a classic little book by Brother Lawrence, teaches the discipline of focusing all of your thoughts always on God, to be constantly in communion and fellowship with him.  

This is my suggestion for "practicing the presence of God" for moms:  Have you ever noticed how much time we spend on our knees?   She drops the sippy cup.  Pick it up.  Bend over to tie a shoe.  On your knees giving baths.  On your knees reading books.  On your knees picking-up toys.  Pick them up again.  And again.  The sippy cup, again.  All day long, keeping up with kids requires bended knees.  

So I am trying, each time I find myself on my knees, which is often, to practice God's presence.  To be aware of Him, adore Him, confess to Him, acknowledge His Lordship, accept His love.  It can be as simple as breathing, as Brother Lawrence's prayer became to Him; "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me . . . "  Or I like how Anne Lamotte describes her two most common prayers:  "Thank-You! Thank-You! Thank-You!" and, "Help me! Help me! Help me!"  I use these a lot, too.   

This is how I am trying to get back on solid ground, to that place where I am ok, and everything is going to be ok.  I only ever find this with Him.
I know that for the right practice the heart must be empty of all other things; because God will possess the heart alone; and as He cannot possess it alone, without emptying it of all else besides, so neither can He act there and do in it what He pleases, unless it be left vacant to Him.  -Brother Lawrence

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barter

Barter

by Sara Teasdale

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

I buried her long ago

One of us had to go and I found her to be the weaker.  I couldn't live with her constant nagging, the bitter complaining.  What else could I do but silence her?  She'd never have lasted anyway I am sure.  I was ashamed of her, I admit.  Though I tried to be brave to the stark world I couldn't hold her to their harsh light, couldn't bear their scrutiny.  She grew grayer and grayer, until there was no life in her and it was just as well.

Into boxes she went and we carried her corpse from house to house.  She haunted basements with her sighs.  I ignored her and stacked more boxes on top of her.

A relief when her voice was drowned-out by children.

Little by little I began to part with her pieces until there was only one box left.  One quiet, unmarked box that could easily be lost among the others.

But lately at night, when the babies are sleeping, I hear her knocking.  

I ignore her, refuse the very thought of her.   I avoid the basement because of her.  

Until more and more I cannot escape her presence . . .
Glowing patterns on a quilt.
A glimpse of something turquoise.
Autumn.
Today, it was an old letter in my grandmother's gliding pen; instructions for my mother's first turkey.

I don't believe in ghosts.  
But I've found myself saving pickle jars.

. . .

I try to reason:
Yes I hear you but really I am just fine without you.
Yes I hear you but you've been replaced and there's no room.
Yes I hear you, one day, maybe, we will talk.
Yes I hear you.
Yes, maybe today . . . if the babies will sleep . . .

An ordinary Tuesday and I pause on the basement step, turn-on a single lamp and open up the box.  

I begin, picking through bones.

And there she is, alive before me.  Not, the old grey woman I remember . . . she is young and wearing red and I know her now, the way she once was.

. . .

Out of a pickle jar comes a dripping brush.  Hurry.  I can't find my pallet, this box lid will do. Our old kitchen table is the sacred space.  I watch it become spattered by paint.

Now a third voice, from somewhere, telling me we may need that old table one day and look I'm getting paint on my clothes.  I recognize her as myself now Mother and tell her there was a day when that was all I wore and as I shmutz out the yellow I remind her how wonderful are paint-spattered clothes.  The mother laughs and remembers.

. . .

Once more, now one of us must go.  

We look at each other,
one wearing red
one, a mother
one in grey paint-spattered clothes.

This time it is the cautious one, 
the one so very afraid, 
growing weaker and grayer, 
who steps into the box.

The mother, wearing red, shuts the lid tight.


This post was written as an entry in Scribbit's October Writeaway: Ghosts

My Jesus Help This Mom post

So this Mom not only Rocks, she also falls flat on her face and begs for mercy.  

This is my Help Me Jesus post.

My almost-three year old has been as sweet and easy as pie for the past six months until yesterday when she suddenly went hysterical on me for no apparent reason, and could NOT calm down for at least an hour.  I started with jokes, then tried hugs, at one point stripped her and put her in the tub, and ended up stepping over her still freaking out sopping wet little body and praying the neighbors weren't calling the police.  I still have no idea what triggered this breakdown, but it left me exhausted, humiliated (the neighbors right outside our open windows), and feeling like a worthless mother who cannot read her child.  A failed day.

Being a stay at home mom is hard.  There are days like the one I described, that explode like a cheap diaper all over you.  And there are a lot of days spent just trying to make it till bedtime.  I never know if I'm doing it right.  I second-guess myself ALL the time.  I'm always wondering what it is my children will need to tell their therapist about me when they are older, and I'm still waiting for my daughter to look at me and say, "Thank-you Mommy, I am sure that I will grow to become an emotionally healthy, well-adjusted, generous adult because of the way you just handled that."  There are no guarantees.  No six-month evaluations followed by a raise.  Not even any way to know if you're doing it right.  I struggle every day with the loss of identity that comes with being a stay at home mom.

And it's lonely here in Cheerio-land.  Playdates and Storytime are great, but they are spent chasing runaway toddlers, interspersed with two-word conversations with other mothers. 

Wal-Mart is hell.  

Even on my most ambitious days, when I wake-up with the greatest intentions of being fully-present, with the perfect plan for a wonderfully creative, high-sensory, educational and full-o-fun kind of day . . . it doesn't always work out that way.  And I still end the day feeling like I'm not giving enough to either child.  Or what if I'm giving too much?  This is my world.

No, I wouldn't trade it for anything.  I'm just saying to those who think that being a stay at home mom is a luxury, that yes it is, but it's also hard, and maybe I shouldn't be writing this at 12:30 a.m. when all I can do is whine.

I totally identified with this:
Being a full-time parent has more to do with sacrifice than luck  

And choosing to stay at home to raise your kids is not a choice that everyone can or wants to make.  That is okay.  As hard as it is being at home, I can't imagine how hard it must be leaving them every day either.  This seems like such a brilliant solution.  

This is another related article that examines some of the studies on our culture's isolation and it's relationship to our health.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: a mother's poor

Of course He knew the great risk in of Creation
the way that sin would grow
in tangled weeds among us
within us
the Great Hurt it would cause us
the way we would in turn hurt each other
The Great Unfairness
as the earth would tilt to prosper some but
The poor you will always have with you
stretching on looking on always with us.



Yes with us
among us
within us.

So perhaps
in His Great Good heart I wonder
if I may dare to wonder
at the Great Wise Heart of God
whether
His great risky plan was to give us
the poor
a keeper protector a nurturer forgiver a healer and so
He created a Mother

Forgive me if I dream here
I can't help suggesting
in the Great Goodness of our God's mothering heart
perhaps
His hope
for the poor
among us
was it by planting in mothers
His own Great Compassion Great Insisting of the Greatness of every God-image child?
To my shame
was His trust
in my animal-mother's courage
so great to believe
I would fight for all children?

Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate. -Charlotte Gray

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This made me want to jump up and down

What has your sin taught you?
Sin is a great teacher. Of course, we all have sinned as Romans makes very clear. One of the wonderful discoveries as you work with Jesus is that he is never upset at sinners. Go through the four Gospels, it is very clear in the text.

It's amazing the energy we put into ferreting out sinners, punishing and excluding them, and yet Jesus is only upset at people who don't think they are sinners.
-from The Little Way by Richard Rohr

(forward from a friend who really should have her own blog for all the amazing quotes she finds)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My This Mom ROCKS Post

Sweet Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary has one of those blogs that every mother can relate to: honest, heartfelt, and just so funny. She came up with the beautiful idea for us mothers to take a break from our mommy guilt and write a post listing all of the things that we are doing well as a mother. I love this, because every night as I go to bed exhausted I wonder, if I'm this tired why do I still feel like a bad mom, and will the day ever come when I get to fall asleep thinking, this mom right here? This Mom Rocks.

So for just one itty bitty minute here, why I am, at times, a good mom:

I know that hugs are more effective than spankings and nothing heals a sad heart like being understood.

I am good at being flexible. Somedays we have playtime choretime naptime, other days we lay in the grass and enjoy the moment.

I try to cook healthy meals and Sami is a good eater, she doesn't refuse anything.

I make a big deal of experiencing God's creation . . . gardens, changing seasons, walking in the rain, sights, smells, tastes, textures.

Holidays!

Yesterday when Sami took my toast out of my hand she broke a piece off and gave it to me and said, "I'm sharing." So I guess that means I've taught her to share?

We love the library, get new books every week, and read read read!

I LOVE doing art projects with Sami and making a big creative mess.

I hope I am good at teaching my kids about healthy relationships . . . we try to model to them kindness, respect for others, forgiveness, the Golden Rule . . . and their lives are enriched by our relationships with our friends and family.

We like to go and do fun things. I try to do something fun with them every day.

Affirmation. This is something my husband is especially good at.

She is only three but I hope that I will continue to allow her to be herself, even if it means letting her wear her SPARKLE shoes EVERYWHERE WE GO.

I am trying to be good at holding onto my own person, my own dreams, continuing to grow and learn and dare, because I know that is the only way I can teach my girls confidence to be their own person and courage for following their own dreams.

I spend time in God's Word, and every day I beg Him for His wisdom and grace to make me the mom my girls need.

At least once every day I look at my girls and remember that I get to be their mom and it takes my breath away.

This is a great question for every mom! Please tell me, what are you doing really well (even if your children are grown, what did you do or what are you still doing well?) . . . or write your own post and link to it from Heather's blog!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Another wonderful theological surprise

I LOVE opening my Bible and reading something again for the first time.  The Lord revealed this sweet little surprise this week and I am still reeling.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. John 4.23 
I know this verse well.  It is one of those old familiar verses as much a part of my Christian vocabulary as John 3:16.  It is the verse tucked into the middle of worship services, and to be honest I was never quite sure if it was intended as a warning or self-congratulation . . . often it made me a bit self-conscious, uncertain whether I met the criteria?  I felt like I needed to do a mental check-list and make sure I had my doctrine all in order . . . Other times the verse seemed to be used in contrast to people or doctrines NOT like us, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are . . . ."  

So I admit that I knew this verse well but it was not one of my favorite verses, leaving me usually feeling guilty or self-righteous, one or the other.

But when I ran across it again this morning I was shocked to realize the context of the verse which apparently I had never paid attention to before.  In fact these words were spoken by Jesus and do you know who they were spoken to?  The Samaritan Woman!   Spirit?  Truth?  What did she know about Spirit or Truth? A woman, a sinner, an outcast. . . For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans (her words, she already knew she was unacceptable in every way).  When the disciples returned and found Jesus talking with her they were shocked! . . . (Why talkest thou with her?)! (Unworthiness confirmed.  Not a likely candidate for such high standards of worship).

I have played both roles in my understanding of worship.  I have spent too many worship services battling the anxiety that I am not acceptable . . . one of those uneasy feelings that leave me trying to pinpoint what it could be exactly but only knowing that I don't feel worthy.  I have also been a disciple hall-monitoring for Jesus, sticking stars on those of us who are in and x-es those who are out.

I wonder how the Samaritan woman understood Christ's invitation to worship the Father in spirit and in truth?  Jesus' message to her?  That he already knew her, intimately, had come to her personally, waited for her, wanted to satisfy her empty life.  The Messiah, sitting eye to eye, with a woman, a Samaritan, a sinner.  Mercy.  Grace.  Redemption.  Hope.  Thats. All.  

The woman then left her waterpot and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, and see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? . . .

Isn't this all that any of us really want?  To be sought-out . . . thoroughly known . . . set free from our past . . . a new and meaningful life.  Could it be that true worship is as uncomplicated as this?  A redeemed life. . . Spirit and Truth.

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

At this point in the story I doubt that this precious woman had much figured out about spiritual formation, or the pillars of Jewish study, or at what place in dispensational theology the Messiah was expected to come or if he met all of the prophetic criteria for being the Messiah . . . in fact if she had known all that, she would have realized that she was not even included in that invitation to worship, that Jesus had come only for the Jews.  According to Jewish understanding of prophecy, this woman should only have expected judgment.  But Jesus had a completely different definition of Spirit and Truth worship. 

In fact, (this is so fascinating to me), the people who DID know all about Truth, who DID have all their doctrine sorted out and DID understand prophecy and WERE well acquainted with their history . . . they MISSED Jesus!  In chapter 7:  Art thou also of Galilee?  Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.  And every man went unto his own house (vs.52,53).  End of discussion.  Case closed.  Jesus is from Galilee.  NOT the Messiah.

And Jesus says, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Matt.11.25).

I am tired of worship that excludes, and complicated, self-righteous Truth.  I am tired of religion.  I met Jesus at my own empty well.  He gave me living, springing-up, everlasting life water.  And that changed everything.

Oswald Chambers this morning says much more simply what I am grappling with:
In spiritual relationship we do not grow step by step; we are either there or we are not. . . It is a question of obedience . . . God's revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience.  You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. . . The only way you can get to know is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. . . One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam. . . it is not study that does it, but obedience. . . . God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already.  Beware of becoming "wise and prudent."



What do you think?  Considering the context how does this verse strike you?  (BE NICE)!  Is it only me totally blown away again by Jesus?