Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Escapes Routes

Escape Routes

It takes a lifetime to learn how to love
It starts with a flicker that bursts into flame
Then it fades to an ember with fights
and with fingers pointing out blame

Oh to exercise the act
of falling in love with you over and over and over

Let’s close off all our escape routes
Let’s not put it off tonight
Let’s close off all our escape routes
We can have it all tonight

It takes a lifetime to learn how to love
Most the time I’m taking too much in my turn
But I yearn for your closeness and a gentle return

My arms snake around yours
Your lips open explore
These promises we have saved
They hold us
They hold and maintain

by My Brightest Diamond, sung by Shara Worden

On July 31, 1988 John and I experienced the beginning of our most difficult and revealing married season. It was truly horrible but God was truly God for us in those days. I am talking the water into wine kind of God. The loaves and fishes kind of God. The rise and walk One. The "fear not" Friend.

John and I met the real versions of ourselves. There was no time to get to minimum safe distance before catastrophe was upon us. Unguarded mouths and woundedness open doors better left closed to the enemy.

"But God" asked for the pieces and we did not withhold. The result was divine and enduring. We closed off all the escape routes when we placed our lives and our mess in His hands. All that old baggage we brought from our childhood homes was intent on running us off our land. God closed off all the roads out of town then began to rebuild our lives from the sub-basement up.

Here we are years later celebrating our best-worst-anniversary. We celebrate every year as we remember the One. The One whose full third of our marriage covenant was strong enough to hold and heal the others.

Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. Song of Solomon 8:7 In all the seasons of our love there is always Christ.

There is no out.
There is only up!


John and Kathy
(Still in love)

Painting by Sue Crow. Visit her site for a real treat.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Table of Celebration

A surprising, humbling, story. A loaves and fishes musical miracle. Bring some tissues and a joyful heart and be prepared to never look at what you lack in the same way. This is good news and it feels good. Get past two commercials and it is 10 minutes of soul-celebrating sweetness.

Come to war-torn Kinshasa, Africa and see lives built on hope put to music. Experience friendships tied together with piano wire. Look at your own life and give thanks. Come. Cry. Clap. Rejoice.

Click on 60 Minutes story here

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

Kinshasa Symphony Home Page

They are also on Facebook

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Righteous YES

God, your Redeemer, who shaped your life in your mother's womb, says: "I am God. I made all that there is..." Isaiah 44:24

I woke up this morning to the continuing coverage of the heartbreaking story of injury and loss in Aurora Colorado. Yesterday and today my thoughts are with all whose lives have been so cruelly altered or destroyed by the choice of one man, whose own family must be crushed by the enormity of his actions.

It truly was The Dark Knight. Twelve innocent people dead. More than five dozen wounded. So many who had purchased a movie ticket but became instead a major news event. Shock and sadness. I pray God's comfort and healing.

I had another thought this morning.

Another thought about innocents.

I could not keep it away.

How horrified we were to watch the scene unfolding of the brutal death of twelve. How blind we have become to the savagery inflicted on one of every four babies conceived.

In procedures that pull limb from limb, crush tiny skulls and destroy spines, in horrific "procedures" that stab into the heads of living children and suck out their brains, we have murdered our offspring. All with the help of the courts, paid for by our government and encouraged by our public schools and the media.

The death of twelve moviegoers halted two presidential campaigns, cancelled a major Paris premier, caused our national flag to fly at half staff over the White House and all government buildings and eclipsed the Olympics. The deaths of millions of tiny aborted voices, the extinguishing of all those infant promises is less than a whisper.

Shame on us.

I will not preach on about this at this moment. America has become tone deaf in matters of faith and morals. Some may have deleted this blog already and dismissed it from their thoughts. I will instead offer you a simple contrast between the sacred and the profane. A contrast between a Divine view of children and the view of those who fail to see the Creator in the mirror or in the womb.

Judge for yourselves:

I will pour my Spirit into your descendants
and my blessing on your children.
They shall sprout like grass on the prairie,
like willows alongside creeks.
This one will say, "I am God's". Isaiah 44:1-5 MSG


Any reason we have for choosing abortion is a good reason.
These are our bodies and our lives.
No one has the right to force us to have a baby,
or to punish us for liking sex.
Non-profit, Coalition for Positive Pregnancy web site "Just Say Yes"

"YES" is a word that has many meanings.

I am going now to phone John David and tell him again how much I love him and how dearly I treasure his life. I can do so because when a pregnancy surprised me I said one particular kind of "YES". I wanted a baby but he could not have come at a more inconvient time.

What we say "YES" to personally and nationally will speak to the future and determine what kind future it will be.

God help us to be brave, generous and good.
Let us offer whatever help we may for those in Aurora.
One life lost is still too many.


Coalition for Positive Pregnancy (a misnomer)

Facts on abortion from pro-life site

2 min video In the Womb

Do You Know About The MIRACLE? (Beautiful)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Oars Are Washed Away

A raft am I on the sea of time,
My oars are washed away...
-From the Golden Flute by Sri Chinmoy

A Jobesque opening if there ever was one. "My oars are washed away". Been there? That place where you have rowed all night with still no sight of land? You have done everything in your power, beyond it actually, and still no headway? Fingers frozen to the oars or unable to hold on they slip below the water. How often marriage, motherhood and my job felt like that tiny oarless boat.

I would get up earlier, go to bed later, not wash my hair to save an extra five minutes and would be not one pace further ahead at days end...well, at the place where it was supposed to end. That oarless boat can be a very scary, exhausting place. That oarless place comes when your hands can no longer hold the oars and they fall away, lost in the storm that has consumed the last bit of your strength.

In reading the places in scripture where Jesus interacted with vicious waves and terrified disciples it always ends happily. He wakes up or walks up and makes everything hush up and like magic they are in the place they intended. I often wondered if those stories were placed in the Bible so we would know it was possible to have such an outcome. I, however, have read the passages in between backbreaking strokes, wiping salt spray from my eyes.

I will share this with you. It was an arresting moment for me not long ago. A dear friend was working hard (rowing into the wind) to accomplish a spiritual goal. This was no flight of fancy, God had launched the boat Himself, but up sprang the wind then the waves and no progress as being made. Soon the boat began to take on passengers- fear, doubt, discouragement, you know these nonpaying freeloaders.

My friend was wise however and kept a lookout for Christ. He continued to pray and trust and say hopeful, grateful things and overboard went the freeloaders. There is room for them or for Christ but not both. In time the wind ceased but my friend continued to strain and pull at the oars. At one point he called out to God, "Will I ever get where I am going?"

And God answered.

The Lord let him know his continued rowing was of little use at this time. "Put up your oars. You are in the current now. It will take you where you need to go. There is nothing more you can do."

That is an almost impossible position for many of us who trust in our own strength. The idea of laying the oars across my knees, leaning my head back and just letting go seems almost a sin. Trust and row I can do but just trust...that is a challenge. To become oarless by accident, much less oarless by obedience, goes against my nature.

Such is the point.

My friend is downriver now, nearly there. Jesus has built a small fire on the shore and you can smell the fish cooking, just waiting for the current to carry him on in. He is rested and tanned and hungry.

A funny old song called The Gambler said, "You got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em." I am learning when to row and when to rest. I am such a bad pupil. For me that is the hardest thing. I have great forward gears but hate the "break" pedal. I know that if I fail to acknowledge the current and continue to strain I will lose even the oars and simply be adrift.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2 ESV

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:28-29

When you have done all you reasonably can it may be time to lay your oars across your lap and listen to the water. Let it go. Let Christ, just Christ, be enough in the moment. Release it to Providence.

There is a time to row and a time to rest. Whatever time it is for you or me, Jesus will live with us in that moment empowering, strengthening, loving us- with His hand on the helm.

Fish on the beach with the Savior is too good to miss. It is what matters most.

I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 WEB

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When God Sang, "Enjoy Me"


Just these two words He spoke

changed my life,

"Enjoy Me."

What a burden I thought I was to carry -

a crucifix, as did He.

Love once said to me, "I know a song,

would you like to hear it?"

And laughter came from every brick in the street

and from every pore

in the sky.

After a night of prayer, He

changed my life when

He sang,

"Enjoy Me."

by Teresa of Avila

In her book, An Altar In The World, Barbara Brown Taylor recounts being in seminary and all her fellow students were talking about God revealing to them His perfect plan for their lives, where they would go, what they would do, with whom they would do it. She however, only heard silence.

So she hatched a plan that was certain to compel Christ to reveal her specific destiny. She planned to climb out on the roof of an abandoned building and call out to God to answer. She would show up every night at the same time and offer herself. God would surely show up with tickets to Mexico or call her to a celibate lifestyle. Maybe He would give her the blueprints for an orphanage in Calcutta. Something.

After a month of silence she was desperate and cried out to God to tell her what He wanted her to do. A soft answer came back, "Do what you love and belong to Me."

When I read Teresa's poem and yielded my soul to the invitation, "Enjoy Me", I could not help but feel the pure, lovely, unembellished truth of it. The humble, graceful truth. The truth set free like barefoot children on the beach, toes in the sand, connected to life. The truth that Christ is in all and calling out for us to be simply joyful with and in Him.

My every day life needs laughter that descends from the sky and rises from the street. I want to hear Jesus sing to me about the fullness, the pleasantness of it. I want to take off my socks and toss then into the ocean. The ocean where my sins have sunk into the black deep never to be resurrected.

Two words and I am all toes.

"Enjoy Me."

Are you coming with me?

He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy. Psalm 105:43

Grace's Toes by Kimberly Lorentzen

Saturday, July 7, 2012

He Is Unapologetically My Way

The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped — it requires an active participation in following Jesus as he leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory, in circumstances that become clear only in the hesitations and questionings, in the pauses and reflections where we engage in prayerful conversation with one another and with him. Eugene H. Peterson, The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way

There have been times when well meaning people (I am giving them grace here) have chastised me for not moving forward faster or for having questions about what in the world God was doing when I just didn't seem to see the way or couldn't make a decision. I have at times chastised myself and felt like those fishermen friends who rowed all night without coming close to shore. That was until Christ showed up.

Showed up? Maybe He was there all along- do you think? Maybe we just feel alone at those times and aloneness can feel like lostness. Maybe we confuse waiting with inertia and our not "seeing" God with His absence or worse, His disinterest.

Maybe those times are just the warm up. The time to stretch before the race. Maybe it is the busiest time for Christ and we just don't see it. Our heart has not learned to "know" it yet. That takes practice.

One of the most popular religious images (icons) used in Orthodox Christianity is that of Christ Pantocrator*. I am crazy for the art in this but its meaning transports me way further down the road than does its treasured, gold-leafed imagery.

The Greek is translated from the Hebrew names of God YHWH Tzevaot "Lord of Hosts" and for El Shaddai "God Almighty" and frames the thought in terms of His omnipotence. God who is all powerful. I get it.

Here is where it gets good. Here is where I find myself taking the very deepest gulp of air and diving into the wonder of it. The online encyclopedia elaborates:

"Another, more literal translation is "Ruler of All" or, less literally, "Sustainer of the World". In this understanding, Pantocrator (Pantokrator) is a compound word formed from the Greek for "all" and the verb meaning "To accomplish something" or "to sustain something" (κρατεω). This translation speaks more to God's actual power; i.e., God does everything (as opposed to God can do everything)."

Did you see it, the subtle difference that makes all the difference to those of us who wait? It is God who is doing rather than merely a God who can do. I dive and find the pearl that proves I am not really waiting at all in the sense of God-Time for God is always in action. He is the God-Who-Is-Accomplishing-Something when I "see" nothing, when I can go no further. My perception of quiet on His part is in itself God accomplishing something. My God is God being powerful not just sitting on the sidelines capable of power.

My waiting, praying, drinking in the encouragement of the word and word-filled friendships until the way is revealed, be it a step at a time or a sweeping revelation, is anything but passive. He is the Way I take. No apologies needed.

You may think it a small thing but for me it is the white daisy on the canvas that upon close observation is really made up of blue and purple undertones and a foundation that is all about the underpainting. Prayerful conversations discover the wonder of it, that the brush never leaves His hand.

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. Colossians 1:15-18 (MSG)

To the One who is the Way the Truth and my Life. The God who does everything. May I allow you to do in my life what You are capable of.

* Pan-TOE-cre-tor (This will get you close to the correct way to say it although a Greek scholar would have a fit.)

Christ Pantocrator image

Fresh as a daisy by Karen Margulis