19 July 2014

super focused


21 June 2014

sweet girl

A miracle is a less common kind of God’s activity in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to himself.
(Grudem, Systematic Theology, 355)



Today this girl is two years old. We spent a day celebrating with a houseful of dear, dear friends and family who have pleaded and loved and rejoiced over this little life. Sophia is a blessing and her life is a miracle. We are in awe and wonder; we see you, God.

10 June 2014

"Do not be deceived:

God is not mocked,

for whatever one sows,

that will he also reap.

For the one who sows to his flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up."
New lettuce sprouts on the left, lettuce for harvesting on the right. These verses are good news for me and bad news for me. I've been mulling them over as I eat radishes and greens and raspberries, as I anticipate tomatoes and beans and cherries, as I watch new seedlings pop up, as I pull weeds, as I water, as I kick myself for not putting more seeds in earlier.

I've been pondering this reality as I remember neighbors that moved out or died and friends that moved on or times I moved on before really loving the way I needed to really love. I've sown too many seeds to the flesh, giving in to insecurity or selfishness or laziness or isolation or fear or unbelief or envy and unforgiveness--all of which are slavery.

I've also been thinking of it as I see ways that I have sown rightly, even small seeds quickly, which grow a good harvest. Some like those fat, red radishes, others slowly like the feathery dill even now just showing above ground. Loving or receiving or expressing or laboring or dancing or killing or restoring or serving: all of these can be called sowing to the Spirit, freedom.
We all want love. We all want joy/happiness. We all want peace and rest. We all need vision for a long haul, patience. We all desire and expect kindness. We all call out for goodness. We all long for understanding, gentleness. It makes sense to be angered by a lack of integrity and loyalty; we need faithfulness. We want to "marshal and direct our energies wisely." And when we don't have or get these good, right things, when the people around us are not these ways, we are all acutely aware that something is messed up, not right.

But, ironically, the only way toward these, is throwing the seed beyond ourselves… which feels entirely counter-intuitive. Sowing to the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control--these are not so much ways to act, as they are good gifts to receive. They are the fruit produced by the Spirit of Jesus, the One who is living and working and gardening steadily all around us all daily. Oh, may I increasingly choose to sow to him.

meditation on Paul's letter to the Galations

15 April 2014

slow and marching letters

How is it that it's always new?
Is it always speaking?
Alive?
Am I so forgetful?
              unobservant?
              small & finite?
Is it new?
Am I new and so
I hear it different?
Does his tone change upon my next opening?
Did he grow the words while I slept?

This book, this book
the word
a word
Christ, the word
Messiah, Emmanuel
God with us, word with us,
among us, piercing us, dividing us,
healing us, washing us.
O, sword, Spirit's sword,
O, water
O, bread
           O, Christ.

Now I sit, I stop, I open, I pray, I train my eyes and ears to run back and forth across these thin & stoic pages. I force myself to sit & wait. For anything?
For nothing?
Hello?

Sit & wait impatient, unbelieving (but I've seen it before)
Drop the seed & cover with dirt:
And miracle of miracles, by the time I'm mad
just as I've forgotten & called them dead
a leaf unbends itself, 
pushing up the dirt.

And sword
And water
And bread
O seed of life.
Seed of Christ
in my tilled up heart
I wait
I wait on you.

From shriveled marching letters
in worn and distant heart
Life springs new
New and new

How is it that it's always new?


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(I have been preparing to lead a Bible study and am once again face-to-face with the mystery and hard work involved in hearing/studying/contemplating/responding to Scripture. Thanks for the reminder of this poem, Mom! Reposted from 23 Sept 2011.)

12 March 2014

beauty and bodies and girls

My friend Andrea is working on preparing to give talks on beauty to teen girls. This is such a hot, in-your-face-whether-you-want-it-or-not-hi-I-am-a-billboard yet rarely-spoken-of topic. We need some truth and clear perspective in these areas. What do you wish you heard growing up?

*****
So here’s what I wish–that someone would’ve said how awesome it is to be beautiful, how God has made us all with our very own beauty, how it reflects him when we steward that well. I needed to hear that beauty is incredibly powerful and we can either use it and/or hide it out of fear, shame, selfishness OR that we can enjoy it and cover it from a place of faith, hope and love.

I had this sense that beauty was powerful, but grew up thinking it was bad to attract attention for physical beauty, that the heart was the only thing that mattered. The heart is certainly the core, but from my observation a pure and beautiful heart will always spill out into how we care for ourselves (which includes our bodies!) and those around us. And this is undeniably attractive–on every level. Now I see that as we age, physical bodies begin to reflect more and more the realities of the heart and even at death, you can often see beautiful hearts glowing through decrepit bodies giving them an unutterable, encompassing beauty.

I think it takes a lot of courage for a parent to tell a daughter how awesome her body is and how valuable and good a full and nurtured beauty is. There is so much power in a young female body and we have all been pummeled and hounded by the experience of watching that mis-stewarded and mis-treated in subtle and horrific and culturally acceptable, but devastating ways. Girls are told so many lies about their bodies (and very selves), but then we read Scripture and see how happy God is about our bodies (and selves) and how on purpose and thoughtful he is about all of the pieces–our relational needs, our physical needs, our sexuality, our vulnerability, our power.

Modesty is beautiful, but modesty is always a covering out of honor, not covering out of shame.

I love how many beautiful women are in the Bible. References off the top of my head–women in Genesis, Esther and Ruth, the woman in Song of Songs, 1 Pet 3:5. Then there are things about us, how carefully God crafts and sees us–Genesis 1 & 5, Psalm 139, Lk 12:7. Thoughts about God and beauty–his lavish work in creation, his care for the physical beauty of the temple (and how does this apply to his church now?), Ps 19, descriptions of the overwhelming beauty of God in prophets and Revelation. He is clearly concerned about beauty. His is an all-consuming, ferocious beauty.

*****
So, this will probably continue percolating in my soul for the rest of my days, only felt increasingly deeply as I love daughters and nieces and girls growing up today. I invite reflections and thoughts, especially from my friends with daughters. What do you wish that you had heard? What true and good things about beauty have you learned from God, from experience?

What do you want to make sure is spoken to the girls that you love?

10 March 2014