Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Grand Day...

It could more aptly be said to be a thankful day.  C., our grandnephew, spent the day and is snoozing on the couch. 
While zippy- doodling down the road, I heard him say from the back seat, "God is good!" My heart felt much bigger than my chest for a moment- C.'s outburst was most likely due to his reflecting on the cool bike and great slippers we'd just found at the Goodwill bins.
Later, I was again thankful that the only tool we hadn't lent out to the girls, was the ratchet wrench we needed to fit the new training wheels on that old bike - it worked perfectly. No rouge molecules or unshadowed moments, or anything new in this old world. God is good.
Those times when we see His loving goodness in the small, unextraordinary glimmers are, indeed, grand and extraordinary in deed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This or the Other?

The War Within Already Won

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell's confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly
Like a squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smiling, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat.

Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voice of the birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness
Tossing in expectation of great events.
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance.
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before the others,
And before myself a contemptible, woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from a victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine,
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making, Faint" - I am this this -- He alone is the other. 

Isn't it lovely that He gives us joy through the moving, even when in ourselves, we are at end of all consievable expendable energy?
For this reason I bow my kness before the Father, for whom every family on heaven and earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you the power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God.

"The fullness of God" - now there's some serious expendable energy - grant your power to walk it today, Dear Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sweet Words from a Precious Poet

Teddy Bears do not have claws
But teeny, tiny velvet paws,
That softly brush away your tears
And push away your deepest fears.

Teddy Bears don't run away.
But ever grinning they will stay
Between your sheets and arms at night
When Mommy comes turn out the light.

Teddy Bears don't ask for much
Besides a warm and gentle touch
So hold them tight and don't let go-
Forget your worry and your woe.
-KCN  July 31, 2012

I was journal browsing and came across this poem that my daughter wrote during a trip we took this summer.  She is by far, my favorite poet...most of her stuff is pretty philosophical and has deep illusions to heady stuff - this one is straight forward, but I like it because it reminds me of when she was herself,  teeny, tiny.  Her teddy bear came in the form of a "Tommy" baby doll.  She still  has him, I spied him among her things at her new apartment and I couldn't help but smile.
Most of God's sweetest graces are found in the simplest gifts, time with our loved ones and seeing their perspectives on things is a grace gift - I am so thankful for those moments when I think my heart must burst from the joy of it.  It is indeed, a profound paradox, that a world with its deep fallen-ness can make a heart so forlorn and its smallest, sweet joys can make a heart exuberant.  I am very thankful that this world is not boring, vanilla perfect.  What kind of story would that be? 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

For You

The saints should never be dismayed
Nor sink in hopeless fear,
For when they least expect his aid,
The Savior will appear.

This Abraham found, he raised the knife;
God saw, and said, "Forbear!"
Yon, ram shall yield his meaner life;
Behold the victim there."

Once David seem'd Saul's certain prey;
But hark! The foes at hand;
Saul turned his arms another way,
To save the invaded land.

When Jonah sunk beneath the wave
He thought to rise no more;
But God prepared a fish to save
And bear him to the shore.

Blessed proofs of power and grace divine,
That meet us in His word!
May every deep-felt care of mine
Be trusted with the Lord.

Wait for His seasonable aid,
And though it tarry, wait:
The promise may be long delayed,
But cannot come to late.
-William Cowper
I ran into this in my journal and alighted on it... deep-felt care = promise long delayed.  Mr. Cowper is speaking my language.  Have you been there?  If you're breathing I trust you have, it's the way of Father - to have us needing him - and of course, we need to feel hunger before we seek our fill.
And we, being good parents, feed our children: how much more so our heavenly Father who is perfect.

A prayer from French Reformed Liturgy:

Do not fear, says the Lord for I have redeemed you, I called you by your name, you are mine.  When the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, says the Lord, my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed.  Little child, for you Jesus Christ came into the world, labored and suffered; for you, he went through the agony of Gethsemane and the darkness of Calvary, for you, he cried:  It is finished!; for you he triumphed over death; yes, for you, little child, the declaration holds true, We love God, because he first loved us. Amen!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

When we long for life without difficulties remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.
-Peter Marshall

Friday, October 5, 2012

Beyond Number

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.


When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.


So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

The refrains of life give us the opportunity to count what exactly it is that the Lord has given in this poor fallen world to give thanks.  Do I thank God that the pits of my life are not filled with wild animals or water- that they are actually dry pits?  This is a blessing.  Otherwise, I would be drowned or eaten up - but as it is - it is a place to see Him even higher, even stronger, even there when the world thinks we should grumble and not praise.  It is a place to call on God, and in calling I find Him ever sweeter and able to do those things that never even enter my mindless brain.  So often, I am mindless of His graces, great, gargantuan graces - that lead us on from glory to glory.  Perfection coming through the gack and guck of all this fallen yuck - an opportunity for new eyes that let go of control and trust that it is He who santifies - and calls us his brothers and sisters.  No rouge molecules are here in this old world, and so when my worry makes me weary, He has caused me to remember -- His great and marvelous blessings beyond number.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Comedy of Death

The Convert

By G. K. Chesterton 1874–1936

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white.
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

I was looking for another poem of Chesterton's and ran again into this one.  As I read the last line, the idea of Lazarus' raising came back to me...the other day I was listening to a talk about Cowper and how the idea of Lazarus' raising gave him hope.  I don't know that the story has ever done the same for me and now pondered these two heroes of mine - I wonder what I have missed in the story.
The idea of being saved out of lamentable conditions - God invites us to cry out to him.