Sunday, July 31, 2011

Christ Will Unhurt You

My First Thought

Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of You, let my first impulse be to worship You, let my first speech be Your name, let my first action be to kneel before You in prayer.

For Your perfect wisdom and perfect goodness:

For the love with which You love mankind:

For the love with which You love me:

For the great and mysterious opportunity of my life:

For the indwelling of your Spirit in my heart:

For the sevenfold gifts of your Spirit:

I praise and worship You, O Lord.

Yet let me not, when this morning prayer is said, think my worship ended and spend the day in forgetfulness of You. Rather from these moments of quietness let light go forth, and joy, and power, that will remain with me through all the hours of the day;

Keeping me chaste in thought:

Keeping me temperate and truthful in speech:

Keeping me faithful and diligent in my work:

Keeping me humble in my estimation of myself:

Keeping me honorable and generous in my dealings with others:

Keeping me loyal to every hallowed memory of the past:

Keeping me mindful of my eternal destiny as a child of Yours.

Through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.

John Baillie (1886-1960) was born in Scotland. He was a professor, theologian, and author. Taken from Richard Foster’s Devotional Classics, pp. 126-127.

I found this gem on the Ann Voskamp blog site I follow and felt a place in me light up when I read it. "The great and mysterious opportunity of my life," part went straight to my core. Christ is absolutely that very dazzling and awe inspiring source of unfolding, secret beauty to me. I love you, Lord!

Where Baillie prays for God to keep him loyal to every hallowed memory of the past, that phrase slides a plate next to mine at the table of celebrated remembrance today and begs to be filed. I love to Remember!

July 31, 1988 was a life changing day that brought a Renaissance in our marriage. 33 Marion Drive crashed head on into 12 Bassett Street and it was a mess. A mess we let God step into. It was a full 10 pointer on the spiritual Richter scale that left us shaken and whole. A God being God for us moment we celebrate every year and today is that day. I love you, John!

Sticks and stones may break your bones but God's words will

Whatever is broken in your life, Christ can fix it.
Whatever is gasping out its last, Christ can revive it.
Whatever is hollow inside of you, Christ can fill it.
Whatever is crumbling around your feet, Christ can rebuild it.
Whatever is crushing you, Christ can lift it.

His Word will unhurt you.
His Plan will unhurt you.
His Grace will unhurt you.
His Embrace will unhurt you.
His Love will unhurt you.

Written by me, lived by me, believed by me!

For just a moment think of the difference in your life if you knew that at the deepest level of your being God was besotted with you, that God yearns for you, yearns that you turn and be in relationship with Him as the beloved of God.
—Marcus Borg

Three things will last forever, faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest.1 Corinthians 13:13

Today, Lord, we remember how amazing you are and how well you love us!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Spit That Out!

He's the real thing,
He's the real thing.

He's not an imitation,
it's not my imagination,
it's not a hallucination,
He's the joy of my salvation.

(Lyrics of He's the Real Thing)

Sometimes Nature provides such comedy. I spotted one of those moments a few days ago. There are regular visitors to our home. Robins, ravens, wrens, finches, an occasional loud-mouthed gull, woodpeckers keeping time on the telephone pole and one crafty squirrel. My friend, Rhonda, visiting from Ohio, marveled at how much he could stuff in his mouth and still run for it.

That squirrel is a real noise-maker and quite an accomplished thief. He raids the bird feeders on a regular basis. He will stare you down from an arms length away. He also raids bird nests, the bandit, in search of eggs for breakfast.

Mother Nature pulled a fast one on him however. I saw him flying from the porch as I drove up the driveway. When I got to the door I noticed that a small artificial nest with silk flowers was torn apart. Some of the artificial greenery had been chewed off and was laying on the steps.

Then I saw it. I cracked up and John couldn't resist coming to see what was so amusing. There in my artificial nest were two plastic bird eggs and one had a set of squirrel teeth marks clearly visible. Our squirrel thought to steal a meal and instead got a mouth full of plastic made in China. The hungry little beggar gave it a good try though.

As we walked in the house I told John there was sermon fodder there. "The full man has no use for honey, but to the man in need of food every bitter thing is sweet." (Proverbs 27:7) I thought of all the things we try to satisfy our God-hunger and like the squirrel we get "skunked." But we just keep looking for that satisfaction in places it is no more to be found than my fake, made in China, eggs. At least the squirrel knew to give it up.

Jesus is the only real, enduring, soul-satisfying, heart-nourishing, dream-feeding meal on the menu. "Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry..." (John 6:35)

He really is the joy of our salvation and the end of our searching. The only surprise is how good His goodness really is, be you in China or America or past the moons of Jupiter!

Open your mouth and taste,
open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors
to all his goodness.
Psalm 34:7-9 Message

Let's be at least as smart as the squirrel and leave the indigestible, counterfeit fare uneaten...if not untried entirely! :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Wish

Before I was born the LORD called me; inside my mother He spoke my name. (Isaiah 49:1)

The Wish

Large life from tiny egg
calls, "Here am I,"
and turns attention to Creator,
speaking such words as summon
His unquenchable favor.

“What thoughts You had of me
before I knew, or turned
inside my mother once around!
Such un-silent thoughts
through days yet to be found;

Grace and favor all alight as candles,
spread bright in celebration
of now and future time.
If these candles be mine
then You are my every wish.”

by K. Cavanaugh-LaMantia

To my sister, Kelly, Poor Pitiful Pearl all grown up into Dr. Doolittle meets Irma Bombeck. Kelly of the Good and Faithful Heart, who has been a warrior for our family these past few months.

May her birthday make her happy to her bones.
May her year be rich in joy but poor in sorrow.
May her works praise her and her fruit remain.

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
(Psalm 139:16)

With love and gratitude,

(A Promise of Wings, Colored pencil and ink birthday doodle.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blogger on Vacation

It is high summer in Alaska and this blogger is taking a vacation from blogging. Please feel free to enjoy any of our past offerings and remember to make some memories of your own while the sun is here to bless them. I am going off to speak love to John and to run my fingers over sharp stones and pointy green leaves, to set my lens to wide, tilt my head back and take in the beauty My Father has fashioned. I would dance in the moonlight but the moon in Alaska is likewise on holiday. I will see you when it gets colder or when I am pestered by inspiration. Blessings. Kathy LaMantia

Psalms 74:17 Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.

Beaver dam in the making, Valley of the Moon Park

Hanging basket @ Bells
Seagull Westlake Lagoon

Poppies in the garden

Treasures in the woods near our house

Poaching pictures in the neighbors garden

A gift for John in gratitude for the gift of John

Jazzy's Dahlia

Allium at Alyeska

Fireweed @ Valley of the Moon

Monday, July 4, 2011

What Thy Gentleness Hath Made

I am amazed when I consider that these were the hands of a warrior, hands that held a grenade launcher and other instruments of war, hands that did not bear the sword in vain.

I am reminded of the only verse JD ever underlined in the worn out Bible he had as a teen and young adult: "Thy gentleness hath made me great."*

God is our Rock. He is also the beating Heart of Love whose character transforms us to the point where iron fists pluck dandelions and teach children to make wishes.

In deep continued gratitude for His blessings to my family and in prayer for those who remain upon the field of battle in Afghanistan and Iraq.

God Bless America. Guard Our Hearts. Restore Our Souls. Heal Our Nation.

*Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation; And thy right hand hath holden me up, And thy gentleness hath made me great. Psalm 18:35


Sunday, July 3, 2011


...stop and consider God’s wonders.(Job 37:14)

"In July 1933 while in the town of Murphy in Appalachian North Carolina, a musician named John Niles attended an outdoor fundraiser. In his unpublished autobiography, he wrote of hearing a song. A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievable dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long skeins. She was beautiful, and in her untutored way, she could sing. She smiled rather sadly and sang only a single line of a song.

The girl, named Annie Morgan, repeated the fragment seven times in exchange for a quarter per performance, and Niles left with three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material—and a magnificent idea." (A Kentucky Christmas by Ella George)

That fragment became the famous Christmas offering, I Wonder as I Wander. Performed by a poor girl in depression era Appalachia and later by the acclaimed Choir of Eton College, it speaks to us of the small-greatnesses that are often found in God's Story. A King in a stable, a King with one change of clothes, a widow's mite, a mustard seed. Greatness in disguise, walking humbly, speaking of splendor and breathing out wonder. Hinting at more. Simple mysteries.

William Blake said it to perfection, "To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour."

Let's take the encouragement offered in Job and consider His "wonderfullness." * Let's search out and esteem His small treasures and thereby glimpse His heart. Sometimes you have to glance down to look up.

What simple mysteries populate you life?
Are you looking?
For a certainty
they are looking for you-
those tokens of eternity.
You may need to
let yourself
do some wandering
to discover them.
Somewhere there is
a caterpillar
just made
for your palm.
Where can it be?
I wonder.


I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor ordinary people like you and like I...
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

*Wonderfullness is Kim-Speak

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Guarding The Branches

Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. (2 Corinthians 13)

Harmony is the hallmark of vine grafted fruitfulness. If the vine loves the branches then the branches should love each other. My house is being painted and some of the branches of a lilac were roughly treated. I found those branches wilted and dead this morning. They had not yet fallen to the ground but they were truly gone. No nourishment flowed into them. While still momentarily green in a few days their loss will be plain.

I have felt like those branches in some seasons. I have been roughly treated. I have had fellowship withheld unless I served someone's ego or agreed with the disagreeable. I have suffered in church bodies that were not Kingdom bodies. One of the very first churches I sought membership in as a new Christian was one of the most controlling. I no longer carry the wounds but I do have some faintly visible scars. While I remained connected to Christ, the True Vine, and found other fellowship, I have seen how easy it is for some to become lost or unproductive through the carelessness of others.

Paul is saying to the body be safe with one another, be safe for one another. Be of one mind. Not the hive-mind that insecure leadership pushes. Not the mindlessness of the undisciplined. Christ-mindedness urges us to One-mindedness. His thoughts bring harmony, unity and safety. It is agreement with His will that is the dew watering the work. His shalom that destroys chaos. It is in this atmosphere of cooperation that..."the God of love and peace is with you."

What a jarringly hard task for some of us. I have been a wounder not just the wounded from time to time; impatient, unholy, critical, punishing people with my lack of approval. Looking at a behavior and not listening for the need. Surly the Lord could say to me, "Thy brother's blood crieth to me from the ground."

So where is the healing? And how do we immunize ourselves and our community against such spiritual savagery? We die. Plainly, we put to death every motive that we would be ashamed to have discovered in His presence. Every desire for career over Kingdom. Every mixed motive that calls into question the integrity of His love. Against all of these we must lift up our voices and, not sparing ourselves, cry out, "Crucify them!"

We are not ambitious to have churches full of people who never disagree with one another. I read a story about someone who asked, "Why do brothers and sisters in Christ fight?" The sage remark of the other person was, "B-r-o-t-h-e-r-s and s-i-s-t-e-r-s...Soooo?" Sibs mix it up. There is a way to remain in agreement with Christ and maintain fellowship. We remember we are family.

We do not seek to beget pews full of passive people who have no core, no concept of their of spiritual identity, no sense of destiny. Warrior-Brides are fruitfully gifted, strengthened and beautified by His revelation of their connectedness to Him, empowered by agreement with their Sovereign that they are an "army terrible with banners."

God's Sons are surefooted and single eyed, with undivided hearts and minds. They are confident that the sun can be made to stand still over their battlefields, the deadness in their homes can be called out and restored to life, and evil deposed all in the name of One whose armor they wear. They are the "lions that turneth not away for any."

We are His. Body, blood, soul, spirit, mind, hopes, dreams, aspirations and agendas, in prosperity and in want, in summers of song or winters of weeping, we are confederate with Christ; covenant partners with The Mighty Son Of the Living God. We are members of one body, one blood, one Spirit, one baptism, one community, loving one another as He loved us. Loving one another as we love ourselves. We are Jonathan to David. We are trusting and forgiving, able to apologize and produce repentant fruit, respectful and patient, easily entreated, unfamiliar with meanness or suspicion. Not coveting anything that is our neighbors.

The people in whose mouth is the "law of kindness" are the people "made great by gentleness." They are the people who live with the spirit of that Garden of Riches so beloved in Jesus' day.

In Christ's day there was a garden so fertile that there was not a plant its soil refused to produce...Plants that would normally compete and drive one another out also flourished side by side giving us a picture of the non-competitive environment God would have in the Church...The spirit of Gennesaret in our church life today promotes the development of a rich diversity and proficiency of spiritual gifts without envy or competition. All are encouraged and nourished toward developing their gifts. It is not reserved for a sacred few. All are trusting the Master Gardener to shape and direct. All are recognized as essential...(From Gennesaret)*

Love is humble, sacrificial and thankful. Love will take and hold ground where brute force can only makes a pretense. Love will step aside for God to promote a brother. It rejoices in the success of another. Love will admit wrong doing and bring forth repentant fruit. Love will self examine and brick up the walls so evil shivers outside in the cold. Love protects the vine from fear of foxes. When love is perfected fear is unknown. Love is a Kingdom Key. The hand that holds it will see the rest opened.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.(Colossians 3:15)

May the God of Love and Peace be with you, Shalom.

* Gennesaret-Garden of Riches by John LaMantia blog date 11/11/10

Picture: Peppers and pansies, mint and marigolds cohabiting a pot in my garden

The Thread of Grace

Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn't written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It's written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives! (2 Corinthians 3:1-18 Message)

"Our competence is from God. Outside my window a spider spins its web. This web is a thing of grace and beauty, so delicate and yet so strong that it supports the spider's weight with ease. The spider walks back and forth across the strands with speed and confidence born of skill and experience. The web is the spider's masterpiece and a task for which it was created.

I saw the spider begin this web, lowering itself from the window frame above by a single strand which it spun out as it dropped, seemingly undaunted by the risk of falling. The spider placed complete confidence in that slender strand and launched out fearlessly to spin the web. Having attached the web to the bottom of the window frame, the spider then connected the web to other contact points and proceeded to complete its work. But the whole operation began with that one trusted thread!

Like the spider, we too can launch out with complete confidence to do what God has created us to do, relying on the strong thread of grace that ties us to God. It is God's strength that supports us and God's love for us that will not fail. We need have no fear as long as we put our trust in the saving grace of God." By Dorothee A. Holmstrup (New Jersey)

I am not a spider lover. I have a husband who plays with them and especially likes the hairy ones with blue eyes. I ask you, blue eyes? Who gets close enough to notice eye color? I killed one so big in Texas it had a face and I was trying not to look, trust me.

Still, the image pictured in this story above resonates with me. My dad taught his babies to walk by holding one end of a handkerchief while we held the other. Off we went on unsteady legs, weaving back and forth but staying upright because we saw Dad holding the other end of that hankie. That vision prompted forward motion. It was only a short step from the hankie to the training wheels coming off but it began with a look and a step and a belief that we were upheld.

We are upheld. Upheld by our dearly loved Father who has made a plan for us. Something new for today, for the future (I have plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11) He is also prepared to help us find the resources and the courage to execute those plans. All the while the thread holds us safely connected to Him.

We have several friends in transition. They are relocating. Transition times are dangerous. It is hard not to feel you have one foot on the train and the other on a banana peel. But God has sent His grace on ahead. His love and care is already irrigating their new land. (I am going to do something new. It is already happening. Don't you recognize it? I will clear a way in the desert. I will make rivers on dry land. Isaiah 43:19)

New plans take courage. Those dreams also need friendly midwives. Search out people who hear God and love His heart. Who love your heart and won't throw the baby in the river before it breaths. I love the quote from Gimli, the dwarf in the Lord of the Rings, "Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?" He could make that statement because he made it in the presence of friends who had his back and because in his heart he believed he had a fighting chance in the company of brothers born of adversity.

That kind of support can embolden any of us to newness and greatness even when it consists of something short of war like picking up a paintbrush, enrolling in school, losing 10 pounds or 50, flushing cigarettes down the toilet, or coming back from an illness. Friends are the anchors, the attachments, for the web in progress.

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them. Ralph Waldo Emerson

The 4th of July approaches. If there ever was an example of a plan that needed courage, daring, timing, luck, skill and blessing, the birth of America is it. We live in a country where a great many thing are possible. The story of the birth of our nation inspires me. There were men and women who trusted each other and who trusted God to do that "New thing."

Is today a good time to think about some new land in your life? What is the Spirit showing you? Can you trust that single thread? Will you? If the answer is "yes" then answer another question posed by Christian writer Jack Zavada: Are you willing to trust the Lord when trusting the Lord can require that you abandon everything you've ever believed about what brings happiness and fulfillment?

His ways are higher, different, better, and sometimes not easily understood. Can we trust Him? Will we let Him lead, guide, shape our path and post detours at His discretion? If so then what are we waiting for? All we need is that single thread to get started. Starting small is OK. God does small. Sometimes small is beautiful in its obedience and simplicity.

Grab your end of the hankie!

Spider's web in Images of Fall by Dan Hyde
Lily of the Valley from my garden

Friday, July 1, 2011

Being Splendor For Him

The voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.
Psalm 29

The scriptures serve up an abundance of rich imagery concerning God's voice. It thunders over the waters, breaks the cedars, is full of majesty. Yet it can make itself hushed, a faint whisper, the wing of a bird in flight just moving the air.

God's voice, meaning His Presence, walked in Eden in the cool of the day. (Genesis 3:8) I am listening for His walking voice. A shared-secrets voice between friends. His hand-in-hand voice that is mine in the moment. A voice with a pitch and a softness I recognize as His Kathy-Voice.

(He is waiting for me to lay down all the clutter and walk out with Him.)

His voice awakens things in heart and soul. The storied dream-rousing voice that pulls back the bed curtains and there is My Love.

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me...Songs 5:2

(He is waiting for me to lay down all the clutter and let Him in.)

God has been
teaching me to look,
to listen.
The splendor of His voice
infilling, thrilling
the wonder-gasping places
that crave mystery.
In a whisper
urging my heart,
all tight bud, to waken,
to open petals releasing
fragrance filled
with splendor-

I yield Will to Spirit
thus He reclaims my
rebellious senses.
Seeing, hearing,
smelling, tasting,
touching, feeling,
balance, all captivated.
"Prisoners" emancipated by splendor.
footprints on the damp grass.
Keys surrendered.
Doors inviting.
Wisdom's fragrance
dripping life,
dripping color.
Seeing open-hearted,
all unlocked.
Being splendor for Him.
Leaning in,
listening surrendered.

On A Laying-Down Day