Monday, April 28, 2008
Man, how did I get here? It was a short while ago I felt like I had lots and lots of time....not any more.
I woke up feeling chilly. only to discover that the power was out and the house was dark and cold.
Outside, large, beautiful SNOW is falling! BAH!
On the good side, the snow does not seem to be sticking much. the power just came on, finally. The house is getting warmer and I am now willing to shed my fleecy winter robe in order to take a shower. That, and a cup of coffee, makes everything better most of the time!
Just for fun, here is a short clip featuring one of the most familiar voices from the 50s. and 60s.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
A Few of Our Young People
The Oasis in the Entry
A Close Up of the Fountain and Pool
"Welcome to the Oasis!"
Let Us Pray
Mistine Shares a Song Dedicated to Her Mom
Step Into the Water!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
From Ezekiel 47:1-10, 12
In my vision... I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance...I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway. Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across.
The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist.
5 Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.
He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?”
Then he led me back along the riverbank... I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said...“This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. 9 There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows. Fishermen will stand along the shores... the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun...
Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.”
I make no claims to being an expert in prophetic interpretation, but I believe that sometimes prophecy has a literal meaning, sometimes a symbolic one, sometimes both, and sometimes more than one fulfillment at different times in history. Prophetic messages come in a variety of ways, but the book of Ezekiel contains many striking visual messages--what we call visions: a valley of dry bones coming to life and a giant set of wheels, for example.
In this fascinating and detailed passage there are likely several meanings that we may not grasp. At least one thing, however, is clear. This is a picture of LIFE--abundant life that originates from the temple--a symbol of the presence of God. As the stream of life flows in the desert, life flourishes along the banks.
The writer first wades ankle deep, then to his knees, then to his waist, and then he’s in deep water. "Are you paying attention?" his guide asks, significantly.
The question seems to be, “How deep do you want to go?” I believe God will take us deeper and deeper. Largely, where we stop is up to us.
Lets’ picture the ankle deep water as like a wading pool. What are the characteristics of a spiritual “kiddy pool?”
I have a cute video of Trinity as she explores the pool with her mommy. She is having a wonderful time with this totally new experience. It makes me smile to watch. The water is shallow. It is safe, especially because a parent is near, supporting, encouraging, smiling. How like our early spiritual life! God's presence may have seemed so real to you, this new life so exciting, so comforting, so full of discovery!
Babies and young children belong in the shallow pool. No offense whatever is intended when I say that there is a time and place for the wading pool. But how sad if that was all we ever experienced! The same is true of our spiritual experience. How odd it would seem if we never ventured any further but simply stayed in the wading pool with infants long past the time we should have departed.
Let’s picture the knee deep water like a jacuzzi. What are the characteristics of a spiritual jacuzzi? Ah, there is a place for the hot tub! It is a place of comfort, of rejuvenation, of rest, of "pampering." It is a place, really, of self-gratification. Sometimes even if we spend time in the deep water, we need a trip to the jacuzzi. It is lovely, especially after stressful times, to relax and soak in security and warmth. The jacuzzi does not involve work or struggle or progress.
It has a purpose, but it was never intended as a place to stay long-term. Sadly, it seems that so many American Christians never get past the spiritual hot tub. We sit and soak in Bible studies, and in music, and we listen to our favorite preachers on the radio or the TV. We buy "inspirational" books. The fellowship is quite nice, sometimes, in the hot tub. It's a place to hang out but not to explore or be challenged or take risks.
If the water gets less than ideal, we find another place that "meets our needs" better, and thus we have an illusion of movement when really it is still all about us.
Gasp! Now waist deep! What happens in waist-level water? It is a bit more challenging, isn't it? Not as warm and cozy. Less secure, less safe less indulgent, less relaxing. The waist deep water is often, spiritually speaking, where a crisis occurs.
I think of myself and Ken when we are at the ocean. I always think that this time will be the time I go out beyond the breakers, where Ken tells me it is lovely to swim. I wade in. I proceed. Then I get to waist deep--I'm still having a great time. But I have a decision to make. Will I follow Ken on beyond to where my feet no longer touch bottom?
Inevitably, I "chicken out." I am afraid, frankly, though I don't like to be. I always decide at that point that I will stay where I am for a while and then I will head back to shallower water, or even to the beach while I wait for Ken to come back.
But, spiritually speaking, the prophet, and we, people of God, are called to deeper water. To the place where our feet don't touch the bottom. What is it like to go to spiritually deep water as the Lord guides us?
So much could be said, but here are a few thoughts:
It is a place of unashamed worship, a place where you stay by the grace and mercy of God, and you know it, and you are grateful and thankful. It is not quite safe, so you keep your eyes on Jesus. It's not all about you any more. The focus has shifted. Worship is not an empty exercise. It is real, no matter what tradition or form it takes.
It is a place of bold proclamation. I did not say loud, or dogmatic or annoying proclamation. I sad bold. A Christ-follower in deep water is not concerned all that much about the opinion of those around him or her. There is more at stake. In the deep water, we are "not ashamed of the Gospel, knowing it is the power of God to salvation"
It is a place of joy. Am I saying that a spiritually mature man or woman who is determined to go deeper will never be sad? Never depressed? Never ill? Never questioning or wondering where the Holy Spirit is? Not at all! Sometimes those who walk by faith in deep water have outwardly difficult lives. But there is a sense, thorough it all, that there is no going back. The decision is made, and with that may come difficulty, but also a sense of freedom, of exhilaration, and an abiding sense of joy.
It is a place of love. It is not the self-gratifying experience of the jacuzzi. Those swimming in the deep water of God's presence begin to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love their neighbors as much as they love themselves. Squabbles sometimes happen in the wading pool, or even the jacuzzi, but not usually in waist deep and certainly not in deep water. Focusing on non-essentials is a thing of the past. Those longing for God's presence begin to see what is of lasting value.
The deep end of the water is a place of radical sacrifice. If we begin to love God and others we will be ready and willing to give of our finances, of our time, our talents and abilities, our prayer, and on it goes. We know we are not the center any longer. We realize that we never were. Eternity is in view! The cost has been counted long ago. No matter what it costs to go deeper, the shore is not the place to be.
Have you ever been deep sea diving, or even snorkeling? What fabulous wonders lie below the surface! Those who have conquered their fear to follow their divine guide on are going "from glory to glory" and they find the richest of God's treasures. Meanwhile the water of God's presnece brings life and healing and renewed hope along the shore.
Are you ready?
Are you ready to move off the beach and into the water? Are you ready to get out of the wading poor or the jacuzzi? Will you keep going--even to where your feet do not touch bottom? It can be a little frightening and even dangerous. It is not safe, but it is good. There you find the richest treasurers of spiritual life with God.
Will you go where you must live by faith?
Friday, April 25, 2008
It's my turn to host the Rev Gals Friday Five.
Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on.As for the questions!
1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live without?
Plumbing...and I'm not thinking of the toilet. I'm thinking of the shower. Some of you know that Ken and I like to play "make believe" and join with others in portraying the fur trade era (pre 1840). It's fun, to a point. Then I've had enough. What do I want most? A HOT SHOWER! There is nothing like several days without one to make you thank God you can have one when you get home. And other people too. Ahem.
2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day?Why?
Cell phones. I hate them, and I resisted having one till fairly recently. Yes, I know it is nice to have. But do you realize how much that innocent-looking little cell phone has changed interaction? Annoyed us? Caused accidents? Shut us off, even more, from one another? And don't get me started on the constant text messaging of the "young folks." They seem to be increasingly unaware of how to interact appropriately and kindly and happily FACE TO FACE...oh I sound like an old fogey. I know I do. Don't care. Send the cell phone back to the depths from which it emerged!
3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? Ifso, do you use it (them)?
My CD player has a turntable up top, and a cassette player in the middle, and the CD player is on the bottom. Of course, I use the CD player most. But I still have a sizable stash of cassettes, and I still have quite a few LPs. I don't play them often, but once in a while I do. I do not, however, have an eight-track player. I'm not THAT much of an old fogey!
4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something else?
It is wonderful. We can have friends, and I do, who live across the world and have never met, but through cyber-space they truly can become dear to us. I would once have thought this impossible. I know better now. One friend sent my chocolates when I was studying for a difficult exam. Another sent Trinity a quilt when she was born. I've met some, and I wish I could meet more. Of course, our medical advances are miraculous. And our communications (except the cell phone...lol) and on and on. I also find it terrifying. I could write an essay, which is a bit much for a Friday Five.
5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain? Bonus points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process.
I think there are many answers to this question. The first thing that came to mind, however, was family. My mother's family all were born in the same town. They all went to high school, found jobs, married, had children, lived life together, and the majority died in that same town. That doesn't mean that some of them did not travel, or have some wonderful experiences or live elsewhere for a time. Like my mother. She left her Texas small town for Los Angeles so my dad could go to work at Lockheed Aircraft during the war. But later in life, she returned to her roots in Texas soil, and many of the family were there to welcome her home. Those who moved away still kept in touch. Family ties were very strong. No one had a hospital stay without someone there to make sure nurses and doctors paid attention, or the patient had a foot rub, or reading from the Bible, and so on. I know, not all family had such love and connection, but overall our automobiles and our technology have divided us and sent us far away. My own kids, adults now, have cousins they have never once met. To me that is more than sad.
Something my sisters planned, and sadly we only did one time, was to get together once a year at one of our homes. We lived far apart and rarely met in person. I'm sorry we didn't stick with the plan, and now we can't. I think we must be specific, and focused about how we stay in touch. My kids, and now my grandchild, live just far enough away that if we don't' plan things on purpose we will find that months have passed and we haven't seen one another. Make a plan, as my sisters did, and then (unlike us) stick to it. Life is short.
Gee, I sound gloomy. I need coffee!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
It was a brash move, but life is not worth living without some risk in it, don't you agree?
Here are a few indications that spring has indeed sprung at last here in Wisconsin.
My Christmas cactus (which actually bloomed at Thanksgiving, as usual) got confused. I guess it was so joyful at the sun coming through its window that it managed to push out one flower in celebration of spring's return.
I picked the pussy willow branches to add to a spring boquet on the altar table.
Here is a close up.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
I could get really heavy and serious about this one. But I will do the 24 hours lite version.
1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do?
Well, that one is easy. I'd be taller, slimmer, and wrinkle free. Definitely slim and graceful!
2. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go?
I would spend it in the mountains among the great sequious of California. There is no place I love better, and no place where I feel better, and no place that makes me feel more full of hope. I don't know why, but mountains do that to me.
3. You get to do somebody else's job for a day...
Hmmm....interesting one and hard to choose. Okay, I will be a college professor whose teaching has a profound and life-changing effect on the younger generation.
4. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space...
Wow...so many choices. I simply connot pick just one. Of course, Jesus, who else....but the Old Testament judge, Deborah, or the prophet Hulda, Priscilla (wife of Acquilla, not ex wife of Elvis), Queen Elizabeth, Abraham Lincoln, Einstein, Smith Wigglesworth, Maria Woodworth-Etter....okay...I will stop. I really don't know how I'd pick.
5. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick?
I can go anywhere at a snap of the fingers. Maybe I'd be invisible at the same time. When I get a little tired of sitting among the tall trees in the mountains I'll visit England, or Ireland, or Greece, or Italy, or....oh, never mind. I am not good, as you see, at make one choice.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Yesterday Trinity had her well-baby check up. Mommy tells me the doc says she is "off the chart" at thirty three inches in length. She is going to be tall like her Grandpa's family, it seems.
She loves being outside, which is just now a possibility. Here she is, out in her still-bare backyard, exulting about the rocks in her hands and the wind in her hair.
Her shirt asks, "Is it me or does this diaper make my butt look big?"
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Who receives the hated stare?
I'm the One who will watch over thee.
Your stature is strong, your bones are thick,
Friday, April 11, 2008
I'm typing in the lobby of a motel, so this will be short.
1. How many times have you moved? When was the last time?
17., if I counted correctly Two were before I married. The other 15 were after. The USMC and the ministry will do that to you. I HATE HATE HATE moving. I should be really good at it by now, but I am not. The last time was five years ago when we moved ourselves and my mom into our present home. It was our first home where the kids had not lived, and now mom is in the nursing home. Strange feeling to be just the two of us in our little house, sometimes. Not bad, just sometimes strange and a bit sad.
2. What do you love and hate about moving?
I hate almost everrything about it except for two things. Fresh paint, usually, and the chance to downsize at least somewhat.
3. Do you do it yourself or hire movers?
Hire movers? Is that possible? I must find out about this phenomenon.
4. Advice for surviving and thriving during a move?
I have never thrived through a move so I cannot tell you. Survival was a bit easier if I made sure to have a box with bed linens for each bed, and a few essentials for the kitchen. Those get unpacked first. That way, you can at least sleep when you finish hauling furniture and boxes.
5. Are you in the middle of any inner moves, if not outer ones?
Yes. It is difficult to describe. I am feeling change every day. Some is good. Some is not. I'm waiting to see what comes of all this.
Bonus: Share a piece of music/poetry/film/book that expresses something about what moving means to you.
Everything in my life makes me think of a song. I usually start singing "On the Road Again."
Happy Friday, all!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
It was beautiful. Beautiful lighting, costumes, voices, dancing, instruments, arrangements, settings. Any word I use to describe the show will sound campy and cliche, but I will just say it was wonderful, earthy, ethereal, transporting, graceful, uplifting, moving, stirring....oh, I'll stop. If you love or even vaguely like Celtic music, or you like amazing vocals, lighting, drumming....well, if this show comes to your area, you do not want to miss it.
They were great. Go see them.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Your Score: OWL
You scored 19 Ego, 13 Anxiety, and 13 Agency!
ABOUT OWL: Owl is considered highly educated because he can spell his own name (WOL) and he can even spell Tuesday... although he doesn't always get it right. Owl is a good sort, really, although he can be a bit of a stuffed shirt, and he tends to overlook the smaller details in life - like the fact that his bellpull is actually someone's tail.
WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are confident and you feel capable of dealing with whatever life throws at you. You know that you can handle just about everything... mostly because you know how to delegate the job of actually handling things to the people around you. You aren't one of those Bisy Backsons, who rush around trying to do everything at once. You prefer to stay at home and reflect on life, rather than go out and live it.
Sometimes, you know, you need to stop waiting for things to come to you and go out and get them. You need to go enjoy the weather, smell the fresh air, and pay attention to the little people in your life. They may not be as great as you... but maybe they could use your help.
|Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test|
Friday, April 04, 2008
4. Another person
Thursday, April 03, 2008
It was an interesting council. I've written before about City on a Hill (COTH). The director, Diane de la Santos, is pictured above with one of the men who has been blessed by this inner-city ministry center. He is the step dad to the little boy pictured, Trevon. They lost all they had in a house fire, except for his Royal Ranger uniform (which he is wearing) and his Bible. This young boy sang beautifully for us, and we all stood to our feet in a standing ovation. It was an amazing and moving moment.
Even more amazing was what happened next. Some readers of this blog might think, based on previous posts (here and here), that I believe there is no place anymore for a "sinner's prayer." Such is not the case. Sometimes it is just what is needed.
My husband, Ken, heard the dad (whose name I'm sorry to say I forgot) say quietly to Diane at the end of speaking to us, "I think I'm ready for Jesus now." I didn't hear him, but as they exited the stage Ken headed out without a word. I didn't know why till he returned, wiping his eyes. "I just had the privilege of praying with them" he said, adding, "I asked if I had heard him correctly, and did he say he was ready now for Jesus--and he said I had heard right. And so I led him in a prayer and--I watched a visible change come over him, and his son too."
A few moments later we watched as many pastors and others came to the microphones to pledge to COTH, who has been financially struggling. A projected shortfall of almost $150,000 was erased, or will be, in minutes.
God was in the room.
At the closing session, our outgoing superintendent, Arden Adamson, asked Larry Liebe, the superintendent-elect, to come try out "the chairman's seat." He then challenged all of us to put "character first." Symbolically he turned the leadership of our district over to Larry by handing him a relay race baton. Then Larry, who has been the director of our Youth and Christian Education department for a long time, shared his thoughts with us.
These two men could not have more different personalities, in my opinion. I love both of them.
I'll miss "Brother Adamson" and I'll watch with interest, and prayers, to see what changes come.