Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Things That Go Bump

From the depths of my slumber I rolled over to look at the clock: 1:47 a.m.

"Who on God's moonlit earth would be ringing the doorbell at such an hour?"

For the past eight days I've been hanging out at my daughter's home while she vacations in Hawaii (poor dear).  Miss Rylie and I have had the best of times, but this particular night was not one of them.

With some sense of unease I got out of bed (may I mention here the temps were hovering near 40 that night, and it was raining; and I'd brought no bathrobe?).  I tip-toed downstairs to peer out the front window, only to discover an empty front porch.  The elusive doorbell ringer was ... well, elusive.  Nobody there.  It merely enhanced my unease.

I then went to each of the doors & windows to be sure I'd locked them.  I flipped on exterior lights.  Nothing.  Nada.  Silence.  Blackest night was all that peered back at me.

So, chilled, wide awake and still a bit uneasy I returned to bed.  The remainder of the night was not very restful.

Come morning, I asked Rylie if she'd been disturbed by the doorbell.  With the most quizzical look on her face she says to me:  "Grandma, we DON'T HAVE a doorbell."  (It's OK if you break out in fits of laughter now; I sure did!!!)

I could embellish this story greatly, or fill in many blanks here because there's a moral to this story; several morals, actually. 

Let's just say I learned another valuable lesson with this little happening.  No matter how certain I am about the dread of this or that, I might just be buying myself some cold & unease (dare I say fear) for no good reason.  I'm thinking that's a pretty hefty price to pay for a virtual doorbell.

Just sayin'

Sunday, March 27, 2011

There You'll Be

It's been a zany week for me.  In between packing boxes for our move on April 19th, I've been playing nanny/chauffeur to granddaughter, 14 year old Miss Rylie, while our daughter vacations in Hawaii (poor dear).  In between those things, I've had to be this place or that - from doctor's appointments to haircuts.  It's a wonder I'm still on my feet!

Then, while on one of my many junkets the other day, a Faith Hill song came on the radio.  I'd heard it before, but this time it grabbed me around the heart and hung on for dear life.  Then the tears began.

The particular piece I mention is a love song penned for the movie, Pearl Harbor.  But in that moment of my hearing, it became a reflection on my mother.  Gone now for well over 30 years, I miss her.  I missed her greatly that day as I heard Faith Hill's melodic & stirring song ...




There You'll Be

When I think back
On these times
And the dreams
We left behind
I'll be glad 'cause
I was blessed to get
To have you in my life

When I look back
On these days
I'll look and see your face
You were right there for me

[Chorus:]

In my dreams
I'll always see you soar
Above the sky
In my heart
There will always be a place
For you for all my life

I'll keep a part
Of you with me
And everywhere I am
There you'll be
And everywhere I am
There you'll be

Well you showed me
How it feels
To feel the sky
Within my reach
And I always
Will remember all
The strength you
Gave to me

Your love made me
Make it through
Oh, I owe so much to you
You were right there for me

[Repeat chorus]

'Cause I always saw in you
My light, my strength
And I want to thank you
Now for all the ways
You were right there for me
You were right there for me

For always

[Chorus:]

In my dreams
I'll always see you soar
Above the sky

In my heart
There will always be a place
For you for all my life
I'll keep a part
Of you with me

And everywhere I am
There you'll be
And everywhere I am
There you'll be
There you'll be




I remember my mother's prayers and
they have always followed me.
They have clung to me all my life.
~Abraham Lincoln

That best academy, a mother's knee.
 ~James Russell Lowell


I miss thee, my Mother! Thy image is still
The deepest impressed on my heart.
~Eliza Cook

Friday, March 25, 2011

Think About It

The incredible faculties of the human mind mystifies me.  I can't consider the brain without some sense of appreciation for how, exactly, man is formed - created - in God's image.  No other creature on earth is anywhere close to being so graciously endowed. 

I don't think about the brain - or my own brain, for that matter - often, or much.  Even so, it's a faculty I use nearly 24/7 - with or without cognition (how about THAT word?), or appreciation.  How shortsighted of me.

However, in the world of all things cyber or virtual, I simply cannot ignore the brain's very REAL capacity to grow, store knowledge, be inspired & inspire in turn, assess, decide, and the like.  I have no difficulty understanding why it is that man uses but a small fraction of it ... or not at all.  It is, plain & simple - a gift meant to be used with great intentionality.

This subject-matter (and gray matter), gives a whole new context to the term:  "Think about it!"

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.
Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer,
he asked him, “Of all the commandments,
which is the most important?” 
The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this:
‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul
and with all your mind
and with all your strength.’ 
Mark 12:28-30, Deuteronomy 6:4-5



You needn't read further, but if you're curious at all about this amazing machine, check it out: 




THE CEREBRUM:

Behavior, abstract thought processes, problem solving, attention, creative thought, some emotion, intellect, reflection, judgment, initiative, inhibition, coordination of movements, generalized and mass movements,
some eye movements, sense of smell, muscle movements, skilled movements, some motor skills, physical, reaction, libido (sexual urges),

Occipital Lobe:  vision, reading

Parietal Lobe:  sense of touch (tactile sensation), appreciation of form through touch, response to internal stimuli, sensory combination and comprehension, some language and reading functions, some visual functions

Temporal Lobe:  auditory memories, some hearing, visual memories, some vision pathways, othe memory, music, fear, some language, some speech, some behavior amd emotions, sense of identity

Right Hemisphere:  controls the left side of the body, temporal and spatial relationships, analyzing nonverbal information, communicating emotion

Left Hemisphere: controls the right side of the body, produce and understand language

THE CEREBELLUM:  balance, posture, cardiac, respiratory, and vasomotor centers

THE BRAIN STEM:  Motor and sensory pathway to body and face, vital centers: cardiac, respiratory, vasomotor -  hypothalamus, mMoods and motivation, sexual maturation, temperature regulation, hormonal body processes, optic chiasm, vision and the optic nerve, Pituitary Gland, hormonal body processes, pPhysical maturation, growth (height and form), sexual functioning, spinal cord, conduit and source of sensation and movement, pineal body

The brain is a wonderful organ;
it starts working the moment you get up in the morning
and does not stop until you get into the office.
~ Robert Frost

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.
Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living,
it's a way of looking at life through
the wrong end of a telescope.
Which is what I do, and that enables you
to laugh at life's realities.
~ Dr. Seuss



Resource:  Enchanted Learning, The Human Brain

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good Gift-Giving


“Which of you, if your son asks for bread,
will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish,
will give him a snake?

If you, then, though you are evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven
give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:9-11

As the midnight hour neared, I layed there, numb - - all but for the ice filled glass of water from which I occasionally sipped.   I don't know if ever there was a night so dark, or so bitterly bereft.  Even my imagination had parted company with me.  In it's stead was a blank chasm.  I thought surely it would swallow me up forever and ever.  I was neither afraid or unafraid.  I'd lost the sensibilities to even care.

Sound familiar?  I know it does.  Many of you are facing giants or alpine peaks the likes of which even the Swiss Alps cannot compare.  Some, both.  Grief is no respecter of persons.

The scriptures I've bookended here did me little good then.  I'm not exactly proud to admit that, but honestly ... standing on that numbing precipice required whatever was left of me.  The fact is, I could stare for long hours at God's word; His promises.  Even they seemed for someone other than me at that time.

When words, and certainly when prayers landed with a thump on my soul the very thought of gifts, or lots, or portions could not have been further from my expectations. 

That night and those days were long ago, though today they seem strangely recent as I muse through their memory.  I can look upon these bookended promises and see how truly good is the Gift Giver; how attendant was He in the chill of those life-draining moments.  Things I never dreamed possible, and then some ... well, they've become my lot, and my portion.

I can never again look at a chasm, or a mountain - or even sip on a glass of ice water - without knowing the story is yet untold, or only half-told.  I can never again look at anything without knowing a good gift is packaged & ready for delivery if I'll but wait upon the Lord.  The Good Gift Giver has yet to fail.

I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:2, 5-8


God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Going With God


Today I want to introduce you to my big sister, Carol, and to share with you a powerful piece she graciously penned just for this post. 

Another time I'll share more about this particular sister, but today I'll let her heart speak for itself.  She doesn't have a Blog or Website of her own, but if you feel to leave a comment, know that I'll forward it directly to her.  It will bless her greatly.

And now, for Carol ...


GOING WITH GOD

Have you ever been asked to share what you believe to be God's purpose for your life? Or, have you ever been on the receiving end of questions about your goals for the coming year?

I believe it's important that we have goals and plans, so I don't want to give you the wrong impression as I proceed. But what I've discovered in my own life is that many of my former thoughts in this regard were flawed and short-sighted. Allow me to explain.

When my husband and I first moved to Mexico I was asked how long I thought we would live there. Without hesitation I answered, as if I were an expert on God’s timing, "Not more than a year.” I have now lived in Mexico for 12 years.

Now when people ask me that question, my answer is: “I simply don’t know.” That is very difficult to admit sometimes. In fact, it can sound rather flakey to those who want an explanation of the Lord’s agenda for my life. For me, the not knowing has become the adventure of living a life of liberty. It is through faith in Him, and in knowing and trusting Him, that I relish His plans and purposes for my life. I can be content knowing, or not knowing.

Given the fact that I didn't speak Spanish, I remember questioning the Lord about the advisement of moving to Mexico. His answer then, as now, continues to be a compelling force in my life: “Carol, the language of the kingdom of God is not English or Spanish. The language of the kingdom of God is love. Go love my people.”

Even though these 12 years have lapsed without having become fluent in Spanish, I watch in utter amazement as the Lord prepares the way. Not only has He provided interpreters, but so much more besides. He has faithfully met every other necessity in my life, affirming His good purposes and plans. 

Learning to place my every expectation in Him has bought me such great joy! It allows me to live out the amazing life He's granted; and it allows me to go out not knowing where I am going. I have come to see how normal that is. Therefore, I am absolutely content to be led by His hand of grace to places already prepared for me to minister and to make Him known; places that include churches, prisons, orphanages and local television.

Without any doubt, I believe He who has begun a work of adventure in my life will complete it according to His plans, not mine.

So for now I continue here in Mexico, all the while remaining aware of His timing, of how His hand of grace might lead elsewhere. No matter, since my delight and contentment is in Him and His purpose for my life. I willingly continue to follow the sound of His voice, even when it may entail some not knowing

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to out…
And He went out, not knowing where he was going.”
Hebrews 11:8

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preachin'

I love preachers.  Really.  It's been my great joy to sit beneath the shepherding-care of a number of truly great ones.  Conversely, I've been exposed to no few of them that wield a Shepherd's Crook like the Rod of Aaron.  They'd be well-advised to drop the "P" from preacher and forge ahead with the remainder ...

Sheep follow.  Shepherds lead.  Seems straight-forward enough.  So why is it I get the sense that some preachers drag their sheep (often with manipulative ploys) in lieu of leading them and/or allowing them to follow?  There is a huge distinction between preaching & reaching.

"If the truth were known, many sermons are prepared
 and preached with more regard for the sermon
than the souls of the hearers."
~ George F. Pentecost


Oh, I realize the trouble might actually rest with the sheep themselves.  Afterall, we sheep are easily distracted & dragged  -- dumb critters that we are.  But what of those that bear, or have born the blows of a Shepherd's Crook?  How many in our midst, or even our own selves, have tossed the Church-baby out with the proverbial bathwater at one time or another because of a cruel or deceiving or manipulative Shepherd(s)? 

 

Though I may have given you the impression that I'm criticizing preachers-at-large, friends, the truth is that I'm preaching to myself today.  It is a good day to reflect on what it truly means to be a disciple and a Shepherd/Shepherdess.  I'm looking for a place to bury the "P" in my own life, and to move forward with a reach instead.       


"If you think practicing what you preach is rough,
just try preaching what you practice." 
~ Bowen Baxter

"Preaching is heady wine.
It is pleasant to tell people where they get off."
~ Sir Arnold Lunn

"A minister asked a little boy how to get to the Post Office.
After the little boy told him, the minister said,
Why don't you come to church tonight?
I'm giving instructions on how to get to heaven.
After thinking a minute, the boy replied,
I don't think so.
You don't even know how
to get to the Post Office."
~ Source Unknown
 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Synchronicity

Today I'm going to pick on Carl Jung, though by no means is this man any more worthy of scrutiny than any other.  Besides, much of his work is amazing and valid.  It's just that he represents a large & growing segment - - one that is anything but new. 

Born to a Christian pastor and a psychologically imbalanced mother in 1875, Carl Jung would grow up to be one of the foremost intellectuals of his day, and ours.  A friend of Freud's, he is often cited as being the Father of Modern Psychiatry.  His work is well known & widespread.  His quotes show up all over the quotable landscape.

At the core of Jung's worldview is this:

Our main task, he believed, is to discover and fulfill
our deep innate potential, much as the acorn contains
the potential to become the oak,
or the caterpillar to become the butterfly.
Jung perceived that this journey of transformation,
which he called individuation, is at the mystical heart
of all religions. It is a journey to meet the self and
at the same time to meet the Divine. 

I dare say, he's probably right about what lies at the mystical heart of all religions.  The operative word here being religion.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm all FOR religion, but only as a cart that follows the proverbial horse. In Jung's case, it is the cart equipped for hauling the horse.  Moreover (I love it when I get to use that word), the cart, self, is granted the great good fortune of defining the Divine. 

I have often thought that if money/possessions, beauty, power & acclaim could instill peace & contentedness in one's soul, then Hollywood and Washington D.C. would be our shining examples.  We see how well that works! 

Thus, it's the counter-intuitive nature of God's view of individuation that has the more powerful outcome.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life,
to put off your old self ... to be made new in
the attitude of your minds;
and to put on the new self, created to be like
God in true righteousness and holiness.  
Ephesians 4:22-24

In keeping with all things self, Jung coined a term that has me grinning this morning:  Synchronicity.  He tells us it means:   A meaningful coincidence of two or more events where something other than the probability of chance is involved.

Something other than probability?  Synchronicity?  ... Or Someone?




Love the LORD your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:4

 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
Matthew 22:37-39

So, what can we say about individuation and synchronicity?  Only what comes directly from the proverbial Horse's mouth.

... since you have taken off your old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed in knowledge
in the image of its Creator. 
Colossians 3:9-10


Material Source:  Wikepedia

Monday, March 7, 2011

Of Robins & Mists

Walk on a rainbow trail; walk on a trail of song,
and all about you will be beauty.
There is a way out of every dark mist,
over a rainbow trail. 
~ Robert Motherwell


Yesterday, as I sat reading by dawn's early light, I heard outside the distinct chirp of a solitary robin.  The well-hidden creature was warbling gloriously, as if summoning the morning all by it's little feathered self.  What's more, it's voice was insistent and distinctly melodious - as if performing for a rapt, though unseen audience.   It captivated my heart.

This morning, as daylight readied itself in the wings, I peered through my kitchen window.  There I could just barely make out the low hanging cloud - an ambling mist - that had enveloped the pasture beyond.  It was a greedy, though beautifully haunting mist that barely permitted creation be seen.  It managed to claim dawn itself, all the while hushing the world as only a mist can do.  It, too, captivated my heart.

These simple observations have again reminded me that life's glories are rarely bound up in the sensational.  They are richly embedded in the obvious, though they are the often overlooked & humble kingdoms of creation. 

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king ... 
Psalm 45:1

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.
Psalm 65:8

He captivates my heart.

There it was, hidden in alphabetical order.
~ Rita Holt

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Stepping Forward


I can think of no better method for affirming the incredible value of waiting upon the Lord than to point directly to His own word about it.  As I penned in a recent post the past year has felt an awful lot like an interminable waiting room where my only least favorite entertainment has been my own nagging voice:  What now, Lord?  What next, Lord?  

As a new chapter decidedly unfolds in my life (more about it another day), I can only say how grateful am I that God's word & promises are true.  Waiting far excels over scurry. 

Recently my dear friend Elaine shared some profound wisdom of her own about the wait.  She had entered a particularly challenging chapter of life.  As she peered ahead, her question to God sounded a lot like my own:  "What next, Lord?".  His reply to her heart:  "I am what's next." 

And so He is ...

I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life. 
Proverbs 4:11-13

I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God ...  
Psalm 40:1-4
 
But how is it to your credit if you receive
a beating for doing wrong and endure it?
But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it,
this is commendable before God.
To this you were called,
because Christ suffered for you,
 leaving you an example,
 that you should follow in His steps.  
1 Peter 2:20-21

My steps have held to your paths;
my feet have not stumbled.  
Psalm 17:5

The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

Look upon me and be merciful to me,
As Your custom is toward those who love Your name.
Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me. 
Psalm 119:132-133

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Opposite of Withered

As much as I relish humor and it's attendant laughter, there are days when my heart is not so inclined to merriment.  They are often days associated with the swiftly shifting sands upon which our nation has found itself, or  - rather - upon which it's placed itself.  It disturbs me. 

Nations, like people, make choices.

With increasing frequency I hear a disdain, a mockery of the Godly principles that are part & parcel of our national foundations.  From television programming to news broadcasting, from the body politic to the hall of academia & science, from casual dialogue to the seemingly comedic sarcasm in the public square, truth is held up to scrutiny; the plumb line is ignored.  It baffles me.

Organizations, like people, make choices.

Across the vast landscape of denominational pastures come voices that marginalize, or take hostage God's word.  Too often folly (dare I include "sin"?) is found & revealed.  We hear of unsound doctrine or practices bordering on the occult.  Worse, we hear those among our own asking:  "Did God REALLY say/mean that in His word?".  Believer and unbeliever alike look on with jaw-dropping incredulity.  It troubles me.

Churches, like people, make choices.

Though these concerning items taunt my heart, my heart also knows they are part of a grander design than those that appear at face value.  They conspire to remind me how amazing is grace; how precious is faith; and how powerful is God's word above man's; above my own.  What a great reminder they are to inventory my own heart, and to make absolutely certain Whose word prevails there.

That's it, isn't it?  In the end, it all boils down to Who's word will stand, and who's word will wither.  I'll take my fresh and edible.  I never did much care for the taste of dried things.



For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
... The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”  
Isaiah 40

... love one another deeply, from the heart.
For you have been born again,
not of perishable seed, but of imperishable,
through the living and enduring word of God.
For ...
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:22-25

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thoughts from the Cubby

I've been visiting my childhood today.  I'm not sure what brought about this current volley, but I do know my long ago youth comes to call frequently.  Always it arrives with the most delightful of connotations.  Rare were the days when my proverbial parade got rained upon as a youngster. 

Today's musings have taken me back to that pitched space just beneath the high, 2nd story roof trusses of our home.  We called it the cubby hole; and actually we had three of them.  The one that was adjacent to my bedroom was my favorite, for there within was a world like no other - - at least a world like no other to a child of five, or eight, or ten.

The olders - Dolores & Barbara - stored their treasured, previously read books there.  How baffled was I to turn page-after-page with nary a picture in sight, causing me to wonder how anyone could actually enjoy such a book.  No pictures.  No pleasure.  Even so, I'd rifle through them, stack them by size & shape, smell their mustiness, and commit to make them my own someday.

It was also where mother stored her wrapping papers & tissues, ribbons & gift boxes.  Scores of such items were neatly tucked to one side or, at least they were neatly tucked until I had my way with them.  For hours on end I would select & inspect, re-arrange, organize and play among these non-toys.  I could count on a scolding from mother for making a mess of her storage system, but it was a scolding well worth the having just to handle those pretties.  I seem to remember mother's smiling all the while giving the referenced scolding.  Perhaps she enjoyed those pretties as much as I did.

Farther back, beneath the dark recesses of the eaves, was a world akin to Narnia ... or so I thought.  For many years it was a scary place; one I wouldn't consider venturing into.  In my child's mind, I could envision an ogre there, or the Purple People Eater, or some oversized spider set to capture me in it's web.  But eventually I grew bold, courageous.  I decided to conquer that space and whatever creatures or monsters might abide there.  And conquer I did!  The time came when I made it my personal retreat - a playhouse - a secret little world that allowed me to pretend to my heart's content.

Without much television viewing, no computers or cell phones, and a limited freedom to leave my own yard, I learned to play contentedly by myself.  I am so grateful for those days, knowing that somehow and in some rich way they are very much a part of my todays.

I'd sure like to have a cubby now.