Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Squeegee & Me

Every man takes the limits of his own
field of vision for the limits of the world. 
~Arthur Schopenhauer, "Studies in Pessimism,"

As I sat there staring through the window, I wondered how long it had been since last I took a squeegee to them ... the windows.  They didn't appear to be too dirty, but since I couldn't recall the last time they'd been washed, I knew my assessment was flawed.  My decision was swift.

Grateful for a new telescoping pole in lieu of a ladder for the higher windows, I grabbed my related assortment of cleaning devices.  Then I set about whipping up a batch of my secret, super-duper, never-streaking, powerful window cleaning solution.   With bucket & gear in hand, I moved into action. 

It began with the removal of screens, which I promptly set aside for a later bathing of their own.  Then I assessed the best place to begin, deciding to tackle the easiest windows first. 

For the better part of two hours I slathered & scrubbed & squeaked.  I made my way around & through a few big Rhododendrons, Hostas & Bracken Fern, a Lilac bush and some sort of monster shrub I can't identify.  Guerrilla warfare was warranted when tackling areas not easily navigated.

When at last the windows gleamed, I set about scrubbing the screens - - shocked by the tense residue that argued about its being removed.  Apparently it liked its habitat.

At last my chore was complete, and with great satisfaction I tucked my tools away for another year day.

Throughout the late afternoon & early evening I found myself walking around the house to peer through the now-clean glass.  What a difference.  What a great sense of satisfaction.  What an entirely different perspective of what lay beyond them.   

Today the windows make me grin; and I am amazed at the life-lessons associated with the simple (though tiring & sometimes difficult) chore of getting them clean.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve
what God’s will is—His good, pleasing
and perfect will.
~Romans 12:2
  • Just a little bit of dust, not to mention grime will always obscure the true beauty beneath or beyond it.
  • Regular care & cleaning is far easier than the alternative.
  • Funny what can be seen when one is able to see it.
  • If it's easier to see out or through something that's clear or clean, then it must be equally easy to see in.
  • The longer tense residue is allowed to cling, the tougher it is to remove it.
  • Cleaning initiatives need not be labors of drudgery; nor must they produce shame.  They can be adventures ... little re-discoveries.  

Some men see things as they are and ask why. 
Others dream things that never were
and ask why not. 
~George Bernard Shaw

What we see depends mainly on what we look for. 
~John Lubbock

What is true by lamplight is not
always true by sunlight. 
~Joseph Joubert

Friday, May 25, 2012

Know, Known, Knowing

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known. 
~ 1 Corinthians 13:12

In each of it's iterations, the know factor speaks of recognition.  It's meaning, as described elaborately by our friend Merriam is to: 
  • perceive directly
  • have direct cognition
  • have understanding of
  • recognize
  • be acquainted or familiar with
  • be convinced or certain of

In terms of usage, the word (though hardly the concept) dates to the 12th Century, and to the Old English cnāwan = to recognize.  Also to the Latin gnoscere, noscere to come to know (the seed-bed for gnosis, or Gnostic)

Mind you, this sort of know in no way resembles that of the 15 year old's version (or some 60 year olds I know), which is to know it all.  At certain junctures of life we apparently arm ourselves with delusional summations, lending credence to the oft heard statement:  The older I get the dumber I become. Or The older I get, the smarter are my parents.  

I suppose that's why I am always blown away by the profound fact of God's knowing of me, not to mention His invitation to be known by me.  It speaks of certainty, of shared cognition wrapped in the arms of familiarity & conviction.  I'd expect that with my spouse, of my BFF, but God? 

How utterly personal & intimate.   It puts me in mind of the dynamic of devotion between parent & child, and the tremendous security that produces.

We do not make friends with God;
God makes friends with us,
bringing us to know him by
making his love known to us. 
J.I. Packer

There's a lot we can know today.  Truly, information abounds & we mortals literally run to-and-fro to find it.  But to know and be known by the God of Creation far surpasses all other pursuits.  

Then again, I know you know that.

To fall in love with God is the
greatest of all romances;
To seek Him, the greatest adventure;
To find him,
the greatest human achievement.
~ Augustine

 Dear friends, now we are children of God,
and what we will be has not yet been made known.
But we know that when Christ appears,
we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
~ 1 John 3:2

. whoever loves God is known by God. 
~ 1 Corinthians 8:3

 Not only do we not know God
except through Jesus Christ;
We do not even know ourselves
 except through Jesus Christ. 
~ Blaise Pascal

Monday, May 21, 2012

Undercover Boss

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for human masters ...
~ Colossians 3:23

Reality T.V. shows abound in these days of existential living.  I confess, there are a few that I enjoy - shows like Extreme Home Makeover, Say Yes to the Dress & American Idol.  But my favorite just has to be Undercover Boss.

Having worked most of my life, and having had responsibility for sizable numbers of people, I recognize that not all bosses have a clue about what really happens in the warp & whistle of day-to-day business, or even ministry.  So it is that I'm fascinated when business owners, corporate presidents & board room executives set aside their Louis Vuitton shoes for work boots. 

The shows premise:  A high ranking executive of a major business goes incognito (and undercover) to work among the rank & file.  There they witness the true dynamics at play and get to meet the people that make up the gears of their enterprise. 

It's funny. There's plenty of story line, and often employees say or do something utterly hysterical, or wrong - - not knowing who is witnessing their faux pas (or worse). 

Mostly it's heart-warming. The executives meet people who are faithfully, humbly & skillfully carrying out their work - - never for a moment thinking there's any reward beyond their paycheck, and completely unaware of who is their witness. 

As the show ends, the executive introduces their REAL self, often with tears because of how touched they've been by the individual they're addressing.  It is then that he/she lavishes some reward - paying off a debt, a promotion, providing for a college tuition, cash bonus, etc. - on the now incredulous employee. 

I cry every time.

I also realize that it's exactly what's happening in my own life, 24/7. 

As I go throughout my day, accomplishing this or that (or not), there are a set of eyes witnessing it all.  Whether my work be behind the counter at McDonald's, in the laundry room at home, in the executive offices of a business, or ministering in a church, it is work that has been given unto my hands for a purpose. 

Nothing is too insignificant or grandiose to warrant anything other than my very, humble best.  Or, as Oswald Chambers would say: My utmost of His highest!

Just recently I undertook a significant doing.  As the day wrapped, I felt a little discouraged, let down.  As I probed beneath the surface of my attitude, it was then that His still small voice asked:  "So tell me Kathleen, who was it you were serving in this endeavor?" 

Right then & there the Undercover Boss of my life reminded me that He saw it all.  My efforts had not been in vain, nor had they gone un-noticed. 

It was reward enough.

Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do
for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. 
 ~ Matthew 25:45

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God. 
~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
 do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks
to God the Father through him. 
~ Colossian 3:17

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Briar Patch Living

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.  
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
Isaiah 55:12-13

Oh how I loved Brer Rabbit ...

As a child, I could sit by the hour & read the many mis-adventures of this wiley character.  My favorite story was "Brer Rabbit & the Tar Baby".  In it, Brer Fox siezes what appears to be a prime occasion for ridding himself of the bossy bunny.  As he narrows in on his nemesis, listen to the exchange between henchman & would-be henced:

"I've got you this time, Brer Rabbit," said Brer Fox, jumping up and shaking off the dust. "You've sassed me for the very last time. Now I wonder what I should do with you?"

Brer Rabbit's eyes got very large. "Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don't throw me into the briar patch." 

Even though I knew how the story progressed & eventually ended, I'd sit with baited breath as I shivered over the thought of Brer Rabbit being pitched to his death.  Sometimes that fuzzy bunny seemed deserving of his come-upins, but the briar patch?  Yikes! 

The briar patch is no place for sissies, or even wayward leporids. 

As if the text read:  In the course of time ... or, It came to pass ... we read on to hear these two - post briar patch plunge: 

Then Brer Fox heard someone calling his name. He turned around and looked up the hill. Brer Rabbit was sitting on a log combing the tar out of his fur with a wood chip and looking smug.

"I was bred and born in the briar patch, Brer Fox," he called. "Born and bred in the briar patch."

And Brer Rabbit skipped away as merry as a cricket while Brer Fox ground his teeth in rage and went home. 

I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel that way; as if I've come upon some foe or fret that carries with it ill-intent.  BUT, having been raised amidst the briars, I find myself at home in the worst of conditions.  

We do, indeed, go out with joy AND are lead in peace - no matter the conditions on the ground. 

For a few of Brer Rabbit's better known sagas, you can read them here:   American Folklore 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Burden Drifts & Prayer Lifts

Have you ever had one of those days when prayer requests pile up like a snowbank in a blizzard?  Yesterday was just such a day for me.

It began early when I heard from a friend about her daughter. She'd received really tough news during her prenatal doctor appointment. Five months pregnant with twins after years of infertility, one of the babies has a hole in his little heart. His ability to survive is in question, as is the likelihood the 2nd twin, a girl, would survive such a premature birth should the other baby need to be taken. Heavy heart.

I'd hardly digested what I'd just been told when I heard from yet another beloved friend. He has struggled with a steady decline in health related to a fatal illness. Symptoms are getting tougher to ignore, and tougher to bear. In the wings, witnessing the whole of it, are his devoted wife & four children.  To him, the challenges of the illness pale in comparison to the hurt he fills for them.  Heavy heart. 

Then, as if turning on a dime, came an email from a loved one struggling with a family member who may well be having substance abuse issues at worst, and anger issues at least.. There's much clamor & confusion in their home - - the sort we all know to be the wicked kin of such problems. Heavy heart. 

Need I go on?  

I know you know what a day like this feels like. I also know you know what a great privilege it is to bear the burdens of others. And I also know you know that ONLY a great God with great shoulders is able to lift it all.

I know you know that sometimes, even, these very things are blessings in disguise.

Monday, May 7, 2012


I just couldn't resist sharing this one with those of you who pen for a living (or hope to).  Specifically I think of:   Elaine Olsen, Terri Tiffany, Karen Lange, Susan Reinhardt, Linda Hoye, & Jennifer Hudson Taylor.  

As you know, it is my intention of joining the ranks of published authors someday.  Thus I'm taking a cue from Snoopy here lest there EVER be any misunderstandings of this sort.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Enigma

This is an unusually long piece for me. I've penned it for personal reasons - - especially as I consider the body politic in general, and the upcoming elections specifically. Before I make my way to the polls come November, I want to be thorough in knowing & owning the rationale I exercise in response to so great a privilege & duty.  

It seems there are many among us who have a serious case of apoplexy about who is best qualified to lead this land. I admit, I've scratched my head a fair amount over the past year as well; though stopping short of apoplexy.  There are just so many moving parts & flapping jaws that it's easy to get swept up into the fray. 

I find the cacophony of voices somewhat annoying, if not altogether confusing. It seems that some have dotted all the "i"s and crossed all the "t"s for us, going on to announce how we (especially true believers) will lean this way or that. Others promote dropping out altogether, their advocacy going something like this: "Voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil."  That may float some boats, but not mine. 

Thus this post.

It is here I interject the enigma that is Cyrus or, as the Hebrew scriptures call him: Koresh. He's known as "The Great", and even a cursory survey of his life & times reveals exactly why he is deserving of that title. 

Born in approximately 580 BC, Cyrus was a powerful ruler for some 30 years. 

His was a conquering bent, like so many power-hungry leaders in antiquity.  No doubt his battles were bloody & violent, but he had a unique method of subjugating peoples & nations. 

Cyrus espoused a pagan worldview - most likely Zoroasterism.  He was inclusive in his leanings, which allowed him to pay homage to the god of Babylonia, Marduk; and which would also influence him to allow people to worship whomever & however they wished. In this regard he differed from world rulers that came before or after him. He offered a form of democracy & largess that continues to be his legacy.  Indeed, his methods were unique & rare. 

It was under the auspices of Cyrus that the cruel Babylonian regime met its swift demise, while simultaneously God's people, the Jews, found a new advocate for their human rights.  He was history's pivot, whereby Daniel's 70 week prophecy was set into motion.  He brought a profound conclusion of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews.

Roughly 150 years before his birth, the scriptures tell us (Isaiah, chapters 44 & 45), that God had designs on Cyrus; and those for good & mighty feats that would bring His own word to fruition.

That's what intrigues me. 

Remember, Cyrus was hardly a man of God, but even in his pagan state he would be a man after God's own heart & used powerfully to bless God's people.  It was to Cyrus that God had this to say:

I will go before you and make hills level;
I will tear apart the bronze doors and
cut the iron bars in two.
And I will give you the treasures of darkness,
even treasures in secret places,
that you may know that I am the Lord
who calls you by your name,
I the God of Israel. 
Isaiah 45:2-3

No doubt God summoned other (if not all) leaders throughout the ages, many by name.  These, too, were used as instruments of providence.  But Cyrus ... his is a saga that is vastly different in scope & mission.  I wonder if his stance towards God's people had anything to do with his greatness?

I will bless those who bless you (Israel),
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you. 
Genesis 12:3

More than the Oscar Schindler of his day, Cyrus made it possible for God's people to return to their homeland, and to live according to their own religious beliefs. 

Glorified by Ezra and by Isaiah, he is the one the Jews speak of when they say:  "Yahweh, the God of heaven has given all the Kingdoms of the earth into your hands"  Even today, they often refer to him as "the anointed of the Lord" or a "Messiah". 

Josephus, the historian tells us:    "In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, which was the seventieth from the day that our people were removed out of their own land into Babylon, God commiserated the captivity and calamity of these poor people, according as he had foretold to them by Jeremiah the prophet, before the destruction of the city, that after they had served Nebuchadnezzar and his posterity, and after they had undergone that servitude seventy years, he would restore them again to the land of their fathers, and they should build their temple, and enjoy their ancient prosperity. And these things God did afford them; for he stirred up the mind of Cyrus ...".  

It would seem, then, that Cyrus' pagan perspectives did not disqualify him for service.  He was named & raised up for a time such a this ...

"I have raised him up to be ethical and
have made all his ways direct.
He shall build my city, and he will release my captives;
not for price, nor reward, says the Lord of hosts"  
Isaiah 45:3

There can be no mistake:  God is sovereign.  He has power & authority over man's destiny, and He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21 

God is always right on schedule, and with the right man of His hour ... for OURhour ... times such as this.  I'm so grateful that He isn't given to apoplexy!  

All that to say:  "Self, relax.  If God can love, and even use a pagan like Cyrus, then surely He'll have no difficulty using whichever man is in office come November.  So seek Him, and make your way to the polls.  In good faith, cast your ballot.  Then leave the outcome in His capable hands."

The Christian Courier

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Right-Handed Grip

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
Isaiah 41:10, 13

Try to picture or imagine that: God holding your right hand with His right hand.  How would that look?  How would it work?  What's with the right hand, anyway?  

To be sure ... it's a intimate posture.  Either He leans over our shoulders, His arm stretched protectively across them.  Or He stands in front of us, face-to-face, while reaching across our frame as if to coax us forward.  You know ... the same stance two men take when exchanging a hand shake.  Ever wonder where that came from?  (Don't guess, it is commonly believed to have been a means of demonstrating that no weapon was contained or concealed in one's hand). 

How do I know this?  Because it's how I have to lead baby Kole (who'll be two come June) at times, especially the times when he needs a steadying grip, or a gentle leading.  It differs from our casual strolls when I can take his little palm in either of my own.  The difference is due largely to the need for greater care with the right-handed clasp.   

There's something very comforting in slipping my plain ole, common, garden variety, un-armed right-handed digits into His righteous, un-armed right grip.