Thursday, December 15, 2005

Winter in Ohio

As we prepare to leave the warmth of the San Joaquin Valley for our Ohio vacation, I am trying to prepare myself for the cold and chill. I remember so well last year's frigid weather and how we were sustained through it. Oh, the beauty and the beastly nature of snow!!

The fury of a snow storm--
not a gentle, falling snow,
but a wind-driven, unrelenting
deposit of crystal.
Not the kind of snow where
you can catch gently falling flakes on your tongue,
but the kind you would never put your face towards.
How can such a delicate thing as a snowflake,
which can melt with my own breath,
Sting like pointy darts
when powered by the wind?

Such are the gifts God gives.
Any one of them can come in several forms,
which delight or devastate
depending on the power by which He delivers them.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Living Waters


My life in Christ used to be like a ride down the river, with me in a canoe paddling furiously. I was navigating well, rowing hard and really making progress. I could go fast! And people admired my rowing ability!


Some were not as adept or wise as I. Some tried to row against the current, which seemed foolhardy and a waste of effort to me. I have even seen some, when their canoes had capsized, try to use their canoes as a barrier against the rushing waters. The chase of a capsized boat often absorbed people’s attention, causing much anxiety and causing some to abandon travel on the water all together.

My use of the canoe was more efficient, keeping me safely separated from the perils of getting dumped into the water. Sometimes I would get splashed by the water or put my hand in it. I might even rest and put my feet in the water, but never leave the safety of my boat. The water was fresh and cool and even a few drops were exhilarating, always a surprise and sometimes a shock. Still, I kept only in safe contact with the water, appreciating the comfort of my boat.

But Jesus, who is the living water, wanted more of me. He wanted me in the water. He could have raised a storm or put an obstacle in the river to throw me out, as I had seen Him do with some, but He knows me. He knew and placed the adventurer in me. So, He presented a tributary that flowed off of the previously known part of the river I had been managing and navigating. I could see down it just a little, then it bent out of sight. The water there was active and louder -- I was intrigued by what surprise it might hold for me.

It required, though, I get out of my boat, that which protected me and with which I had become familiar. I pushed the boat ashore and stowed my gear. I figured I could always come back and get it later.

I waded into those waters and soon, I was up to my neck - in deep - and the waters were fast and churning. It was a wild ride, my favorite kind. Most of the time, the current was white water - fast, bubbly. I had left hard gear behind, but anything else in my pockets and not secured to my body was soon lost, ripped away by the rushing current, although I wouldn’t even notice the loss until later. Even then, I realized I didn’t need those few paltry items.

For all the fury, I was never afraid. Oh, it was difficult, requiring all my strength and perseverance. It was harrowing and unknown, yet I knew I was never really in any danger.

Unlike when I was riding atop of the water, I now was very familiar with wetness. I was soaked. The water was in me as much as I was in it--in my hair, my eyes, ears and mouth. Plus, I discovered my relationship with water had changed.

Previously, I rode the current, using it to my advantage as best as I could. Here, my progress was determined by the river, not by my ferocious rowing. With my boat gone, I was still transported down the same river. Through the rapids which first lured me, I found myself in a large and deep expanse of the river - bottomless, cool, refreshing - where I didn’t need my boat and, in fact, didn’t want it.

Also, here I was less concerned with how much distance or speed I traveled. Now my focus was on the water. It not only carried me, but intrigued me by its depth and beauty. I found I could stretch out and let it wholly support my body or I could dive deep for treasures or cool relief. It also brought great things to me. Sometimes I would just be letting myself experience the feel of the water and the current would bring some new person or object to me.

Some people had gotten into the water of their own accord, answering their instinctive call into the water. They turned out to be fun and easy companions.

Some had been dumped overboard by various and sundry means. Most of them were thrashing and splashing, stirring up the water and making it difficult to focus and relax in the water. It was always good to dive deep to escape their turbulence.

Those still in boats and canoes didn’t seem to be in this part of the water. I imagine they tired of it, went ashore and traveled by other means. I don’t think they are going where I am going.

While I don’t really know the exact whereabouts of my destination, it doesn’t seem to matter, for I am getting the benefits of the water now. I am in it; it is in me!!

Come on in!! The water is fine!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Dear Daddy

Abba, Father
I never knew my own father growing up and had a series of step-fathers to whom I didn't attach, or at least had no sense that they would be there for me. I discovered the deeper impact this had on my life when I realized the private, intimate way Jesus said we should address almighty God. Abba is the colloquial address for father that is similar to "papa" or "daddy." I decided to pray to God and address him as my "Daddy."
The first time I did it, I broke down crying. It was too painful and unfamiliar to so address the Lord. It took several tries to where I could address God that way without crying; several more tries to get pass the address and move into the sense that I could crawl into the lap of God and speak to him so personally.
So, recently, I began a journal of letters/prayers to my heavenly Daddy. Sometimes, I am asking him for help. Sometimes, I "tell" on people and say, "Daddy, he's hurting me." Sometimes I tell my heavenly Daddy how much I love him and want to spend time with him.
These prayers have brought me closer to Him in that I feel drawn to the one who would so care about me at this level. I am more aware of his readiness to envelop me in his arms, to come to my rescue, to provide. I love my heavenly Daddy. He has never failed me. He has fully provided for me. Most of all, he makes himself fully available to me. I want more of him!!

Monday, May 16, 2005

PDA


How many times the writers of the Old Testament praise God publicly! I am so impressed with their continual display of God's attributes, thanks for His response to prayer and for the hope and confidence the writer placed in God. Repeatedly, these writers expressed gratitude orally, through song, through prayer, continually even from generation to generation, with all their heart in such a way that it was a public display of affection for their Lord.

Their intent was to let the whole world know of what God had done, to proclaim His greatness over all the earth, to rejoice even in the midst of stress and trouble, to join in His righteousness. The Psalmists called attention to God's salvation, justice, His majesty and glory, His everlasting rule and the fact that God had done something marvelous for them: for being part of God's marvelous workmanship, for giving wisdom and strength, being able to join in righteous living, for good sense, for God's rescue and protection. Through these and many others, the writers extolled the commonality of God's people in receiving these things and God's generousness with His people.

As I read on and on about their ability to praise on all levels, I realize I want to learn to do that, too. I want to learn to examine the day for the evidences of God, the blessings even in trouble, for grace and not focus on my negativity. Life sure looks different that way.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

To Know God

#19 To Know

To see You as You really are,
to bear the burden heavy.
To display it so that You are seen
and that I can be made ready.
To not deny the Truth
nor quench the Spirit’s flow.
To say I walked the path You set
along the honest row.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Gratitude

Looking for gratefulness in the most inconspicuous of places. My husband bought me a two-person swing for Mother's Day. We have enjoyed it almost every day since then. The first time we swung in it, we recollected swings of our past. Both our grandmothers had porch swings and we told "swing" stories. My great aunt had one hung in the tresses of an old, unused wind mill. I fondly remember swinging, attempting to make it hit the upright legs of the windmill, but to no avail.

I almost fell asleep in the new swing one morning recently. The morning was warm and the sun shone such that my meditation turned into a nap. All's well when I can nap like that. The motion of swinging must be an inherent nap-producer. We do it to babies to get them to sleep.

This new swing has been that kind of constant invitation to rest and relax. I am grateful for the call to rest. I know God is interested in resting because He did it and invites us to reach for his eternal rest. I wonder if there are swings in heaven?

Monday, April 18, 2005

A Moment of Gravity

#24
I quit the day.
It had already been inconsolably long,
though it be only 11:00 in the morning.
I quit trying.
I quit hiding.
I quit wanting.
I gave into the endlessness of trauma, loss and pain.
They could not be avoided any more.
It took too much effort
and I didn’t have the energy anymore.
So, I gave into the abyss, the darkness, the smothering.
I let it go over me, convinced I would die.
At a critical point, I did.
I tried to die.
I let death have me.
But somehow I emerged on the other side, still alive.
There was still trauma, pain and loss
but they no longer had me
they no longer covered life.
They just became another part of the day
like hunger or tiredness, which could be satisfied by food or sleep.
I found that all three—trauma, pain and loss—
could be satisfied by prayer, by rest and by the comfort of others:
wordless comfort, distraction, nurture and more prayer,
satisfying that which once terrorized.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Gravity and Gratitude

Gravity is more than the force which keeps my feet on the ground. The gravity of life often draws my attention to the somberness of the trouble and struggle of the day, leaving me enmeshed and mired. Gravity keeps me bent low and my coutenance dragging just below the fresh air God offers.

On the other hand, it is a heart of gratitude that draws me towards heaven. No travail can hold me, no complexity in life can deter my aim to stay heaven bound. I believe the "secret" (an open secret if we look for it) of successful Christian living is developing a grateful heart where being content in all things (Philippians 4:10-13) and counting it all joy when trials come my way
(2 Corinthans 8:1, 2; James 1:2-5) are the rules of the day.

The apostle Paul calls it "throwing off all encumbrances." The Psalmists often declare in their distress their thankfulness for what God is about to do, depending on His Truth and not the calamity in front of them. Both tell me to free myself of gravity. Gratefulness lifts the burden and raises my vision towards God as I know He is able to do and deliver all things. Gratefulness causes me to seek my Creator and Redeemer to thank Him for pushing me towards the positive.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Communication I

What brings us to communicate? What brings us to communicate the faith? This is only a feeble attempt at trying to communicate the journey of faith. I develop ideas constantly as part of my work and walk. I like to hear others' reflections, especially since I know I have such a narrow view (i.e. my view) of things.
So, welcome to that process. If you feel called to reflect on these musings, poetry and challenges, please do so. I will consider them all and might even use them in my teaching, always remembering to balance all my thinking with the Word of God.