l e n t :: day28_silence

day28_silence

I’ve never been a fan of silence.  Starting at age thirteen, maybe younger, I would slide my portable CD player into the waist of my cheer shorts so that I wouldn’t have to mow the lawn in eight hours of silence.  I would sing to myself, or recite my next upcoming drama lines, or tell stories to my horse while riding.  I never wanted to be alone.

In the literature class I taught today, we read “I’m Nobody – Who are you?” by Emily Dickinson.  We chatted about Dickinson a bit, about her extremely introverted behavior.  Each of the students discussed how they themselves gained energy and rejuvenation – alone or with people.  I so enjoyed hearing them share!  I am not an introvert, although I am often shy and prefer not to be the center of the attention.  The downside is that I am not accustomed to silence and prefer a bit of chaos.

But a beauty of the season of Lent, or the season of Advent, is the unique opportunity to change rhythms as we prepare to celebrate a new season of immense celebration – Christmas or the Resurrection.  The first coming of a grace-overflowing, wine-enjoying Savior.  Then the hallelujah of the trampling over death.  During these seasons, we take on or take off something to remind of us this change, of this anticipating.   We say–my status quo is less necessary than the acknowledgement of this great Story, this good News.  Writing these little blurbs every day has been a practice in silence: I step into a quiet space, generally alone, mostly at night, and try to listen for the right words to share.   I upset my previous nightly rhythms of games, or TV, or reading instead to speak.

Silence is becoming a little less scary I guess.

What does silence sound like to you?

 

I’m Nobody! Who are you? (260)
Emily Dickinson, 18301886
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –  
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –  
To an admiring Bog!

l e n t :: day27_spirit

day27_spirit

an oldie but the best representation of spirit  ::  Raena J, circa January 2015

Raena is thoughtful and creative.  Shy but attention-longing.  Bright and cunning.  Strong and willed.  Spirited.  All of which cause challenges almost daily.  All of which initiate the greatest gut laughter.  I would not be surprised if Raena became a world leader, a quiet poet, a famous dancer, a stay at home mom, or a ground-breaking scientist.  Her potential is limitless.  But my, parenting her is a difficult experience.  She challenges me, she finds my weak spots and she pushes those buttons.  Since her birth, I have grown more as an individual than I thought possible in these nearly 4 short years.  A college professor of mine often said we students would know nothing of sacrifice and surrender until we were married and had children.  He was right.

Spirit is strong but spirit is also knowing when and how to surrender and sacrifice.  Raena will someday start learning, the way I continue to as well, how to point her gifts and spirit for other-betterment and not self-achievement and success.   She’s a beauty.

How is your spirit growing?

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

l e n t :: day23_help

day24_help

Tomorrow is move day : out of Mom and Dad’s to the Ranch House next door.  We’ve all been “project”ing all day.  Yes, all.  Can’t you see how the girls are helping Jeff un-install and re-install our water filter?  Well today was a full day; we needed help.  The kind of help that Fazolis and Panera provide.  So, I’m walking in helping grace, cheating on my Lenten food rules because I have no desire to cook, and letting Sophia the First and Anastasia be my babysitters.  Until another day, friends, I’m signing off for a time of TV, snuggles and hopsation cider.  🙂  Happy weekend!

What kind of help are you receiving today?

 

 

l e n t :: day23_power

day23_power

No explanation needed.

There is power in prayer

Your Faith is the key,

And God’s good gifts

You long to receive

Are possible now – –

If you will but dare

To take Him at His word

…and Believe!

–Jon Gilbert 

(From a little gem my beloved grandfather, Richard Ripberger, used to carry around in his wallet.)

l e n t :: day22_found

day22_found

Today has been a bit of a rough day – not bad in circumstance per se (outside of my favorite pair of pants ripping in the I-obviously-do-not-have-a-thigh-gap kind of way) but in more of a head swimming, not always positive bit of overwhelm.  It seemed some certainties were succeeding some seven month uncertainties only to be monkey-wrenched by new questions.  Granted, some of these alterations have potential to be direct answers to prayers, but today I am a bit tired.

The day ended with a gathering of the women’s group at our church where we watched War Room.  Disclaimer: in general, I am quite wary of “Christianese” films.  The dialogue, the filming, oh the costuming.   While those aspects of the theatrical art are incredibly important, I would, as they say, throw out the baby with the bath water.  But the War Room has a beautiful message though and I loved when the protagonist walked out on to her back porch, yelling at Satan, “You will not steal my joy!”

So here I am with my small found statement of the day “You will not steal my joy!”  Sometimes finding joy is difficult, like searching the house for these darn tiny doll accessories, but these accessories make all the difference in the girls’ play.  So I should re-read my own thoughts tonight and snuggle up with a cup full of joy and decaf.

What is being stolen from you?  How can it be found?
(or Jeff’s question: What do you need to yell at Satan tonight?)

l e n t :: day21_witness

day21_witness

Witness is a term saved for few instances: attending or standing in a wedding, being present at or seeing a crime occur, or acting as a witness for faith.  Each carries magnificent weight on an individual’s life—making a lifelong covenant, pursuing justice for a wrong, sharing Good News.  Witness is people changing people’s lives.   Witness is growing up and down and all around.  Witness is living life in community well.

What and how do you witness?

For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.
Elie Wiesel

l e n t :: day20_thirst

day20_thirst

This morning, since the next IF:Equip study hasn’t started yet, I perused John Piper’s recent articles and decided to read one titled Love is the Main Thing in Saving Faith.  Here’s a quick excerpt (although I encourage you to read the whole thing!): 

Here is the way Paul put it:

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:9–10)

Literally, it says, “They did not welcome the love of the truth in order to be saved.” The issue is not just welcoming the truth, but being willing to have the love of the truth in our hearts. Many people presume to have truth and speak truth. But it is all mental, intellectual — notional, [Jonathon] Edwards would say. They do not love the truth of the gospel. They say things about Jesus, but they don’t love what they say — that is, they don’t love the one they speak of. They don’t treasure what they say. And Paul says this is why they are not saved. Which means, they don’t have saving faith. Because saving faith has in it the love of what is believed — the One believed.

Saving faith receives the truth of Christ not merely as a fact, but as treasured fact. Not just as the description of a person and his deeds, but as a treasured person whose deeds are treasured for how valuable they really are. That is, saving faith includes loving Christ — treasuring him for who he is.

Last fall, a dear friend of mine was peeling carrots, PEELING CARROTS, and she burst into tears simply because she was overwhelmed by the love of Jesus.  Then, a night before a conference on the other side of the country, she didn’t sleep, overwhelmed by JESUS.  She treasures JESUS.

So today I am realizing that I am thirsty.  Sure, thirsty for water, Perrier, water from a curly straw (isn’t he a cutie by the way?), a good hoppy beer, but above all I am thirsty to fall in love with Jesus.  To want His return more than I want to spend another 50 years on earth in my safe place.  To want to participate in the breathing, life-giving love the Trinity shares.  And I know I’ve been invited to take a sip.

It reminds me of a song with lovely welcoming lyrics:

All who are thirsty

All who are weak

Come to the fountain

Dip your heart in the stream of life

Let the pain and the sorrow

Be washed away

In the waves of His mercy

As deep cries out to deep

Come Lord Jesus come!

All Who Are Thirsty by Brenton Brown & Glenn Robertson, Vineyard Music UK

 Are you thirsty? 

day20_extras day20_extras2day20_extras3day20_extras4

 

l e n t :: day18_heal

day18_heal

When I was a younger child, many of my family members were not my biggest fans.  They said I was bossy to my other cousins.   That I didn’t go with the flow the way children are supposed to.  Spoiled, I suppose.  An aunt even brought up last week that I was demanding.  Over the years, I have reached out to many of those family members that I hurt, hoping for forgiveness and reconciliation.   But I admit it has been a place of great pain for me, as well.  Why didn’t people like me?  I wasn’t intentionally bulldozing my way through life without regard for others; I was, and still am, just trying to understand how to not misuse my gifts and desires.  And really, now looking back, that is what I see it as: a misuse of my gifts and desires.  I do like to develop strong, informed opinions and change my lifestyle accordingly: demanding.  I am capable of handling many projects and problems, especially delegating to a team: bossy.  I have preferences on clothes, food, cars, translations, etc. and have pursued them, rarely being denied what I’ve work hard for: spoiled.   For all this I’ve pursued healing for myself and hoped to step into it with others.

I recently reread The Screwtape Letters, a satirical compilation of letters from an experienced demon named Screwtape to his young nephew temptor Wormwood, and was wonderfully smacked in the face by this segment:

“You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character. Some talents, I gather, he really has. Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point. The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and make-believe into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible. To anticipate the Enemy’s strategy, we must consider His aims. The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the, fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour’s talents—or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things. He wants to kill their animal selflove as soon as possible; but it is His long-term policy, I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self-love—a charity and gratitude for all selves, including their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours.”

                The Screwtape Letters,  C.S. Lewis

What a healing process we must journey through, to acknowledge and use our and our neighbors’ gifts with a heart of gratitude for the One who gave them!   To recognize all creatures as glorious and excellent things, to have charity and gratitude for all selves, including our own.

What healing do you need to step into, for yourself or others?  How can you begin a journey towards recognizing all creatures with charity and gratitude as glorious and excellent things?

l e n t :: day17_see

day17_see3

day17_see2

Sometimes I don’t register all that I see.  Like these girls and their eyes.  Raena’s eyes are a dark brown that can barely be differentiated from the pupil.  She has incredible depth and is often hard to understand as she lives in a unique world (plus she sometimes speaks in her own made up language).  Then there’s Reis: she has brilliant blue eyes that sparkle and change with her environment.  She’s the quicker to smile and goof off and longs for cuddles and constant interaction.   But I sometimes forget to acknowledge the individual gift they each are.  I see them, sure, ALL THE TIME.  But I could work on acknowledging them a bit more.

What do you just see that you need to acknowledge?

day17_seeBW

 

l e n t :: day16_joy

day16_joyToday’s post may seem a little bit like fluff, but let me say that often joy is found in the fluff.  When a song you jammed out to in elementary school comes on your Pandora station: JOY.  When the Party Store clerk calls you “Miss” not “Ma’am”: JOY.  When you get an extra fifteen minutes of child-less morning time: JOY.  When your little brother somewhat begrudgingly dries dishes so that you can write this post: JOY.  When after nearly 4 years of not being able to consume regular coffee without a massive, vision-changing, four-day-long-misery-of-a-migraine you come across a DARK ROAST ORGANIC FAIR TRADE DECAF COFFEE: OHMYWORD JOY JOY JOY.  So today I’m letting my joy be found in the fluff, the music and the decaf coffee.

What kind of fluff brings you joy?