Monday, October 31, 2011

Have I Prayed for My Pastor Today?

Brothers, pray for us (1 Thess. 5:25, ESV).

In June, our pastor resigned at the request of the elders. At the teary, angry "family meeting" when the announcement was presented, the chairman of the elder board confessed his sin against the body. He said he let his friendship with the pastor get in the way of his responsibility as elder so that he ignored the issues involved until this was the only remedy. He confessed pride and laziness in his duties as elder to have allowed conflicts to progress so far.

In the pew I confessed my own sin in not taking seriously enough my duty to pray for our elders, pastors, deacons, and staff. Since then they have held a place on my written prayer list and I have lifted them to the Lord more often: alas, not daily, not as often as my family and close friends, but more than I had been.

In addition, I have been praying for the pastor and deacons at my parents' church, which we attended regularly when I was first trying to resume church attendance last fall but not yet ready for the longer drive and service involved at our own usual church. Their warm welcome when we visited and proximity to our home still felt like a bond of sorts. Even though it was not the best fit for our family, I wholeheartedly support their dedication to missions in our city, the nation, and around the world.

Last weekend the senior pastor of that neighborhood church lost his prolonged private battle with bipolar disorder and took his own life. His congregation is still stunned, having had no reason to expect anything wrong. They had recently celebrated the successful completion of an education building and the baptism of 5 converts to Christ from another major world religion.

There has been so much to think through in response to the grievous news, but two matters rise to the top most frequently:
  • There but for the grace of God go I. There is no valor in having resisted a temptation I  never faced, so far be it from me to pass judgment on this man who was suffering intense personal anguish. It is God's mercy and not our own virtue which has kept suicide out of my own family to this point.
  • Even my repentance needs repenting of. Even my renewed prayers for the pastors closest to me mainly addressed their church office. I was praying for their faithfulness to the Gospel, their financial and ethical integrity, and God's guidance in their shepherding of their churches, all of which are good and needful prayers. My prayers, however, had neglected to consider them as persons. Pastors share all the struggles we face, in addition to the burden of their responsibility to us, in addition to intensified spiritual attack in many cases. The enemy of Christ's church knows that if he strikes the shepherd, the sheep may scatter.
Today is the last day of October, which someone has designated Pastor Appreciation Month. By all means, let us send notes, gifts, and gift cards. Our pastors need encouragement and special surprises just as we all do. Most of all, though, let us pray for them and renew our commitment to do so not only this month but continually. Let us pray for their faithfulness in the stewardship God has given them; let us also pray for them as our brothers in Christ, asking the same sorts of things that we do for our friends and family (which they are). Let us first and foremost pray that they would experience for themselves the boundless grace and love of God which they proclaim to others.

                                               Praying for Your Pastor, from blog

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression or severe mood swings, please seek professional medical help or tell someone who can help you to the help you need. If you are actively considering doing yourself harm, I urge you please to call 911 or your local emergency number. There is no shame in seeking help; Jesus welcomes all of us just as we are.

Quietly lifting heart and hands in thanks to the unchanging Father of lights, whose ways transcend our understanding--
For faithful pastors who serve a single congregation for decades,
For God's work through mortal men continuing even beyond their earthly lives,
For Christian love and community that withstands sin, death, and grief,
For God's grace, bigger than each and every sin, even mine,
For God's ability to use even the worst, hardest eucharisteos for good,
For the unity of the invisible body of Christ,
For the steadfast government of the Chief Shepherd of the church,
For promises of comfort to all who mourn,
For promises that the Lord will wipe away every tear from our eyes one day,
For wisdom available to us in our various needs of guidance,
For sunshine and showers all jumbled together in a week,
For yarn running out before the pattern does,
For working Saturdays,
For muddy paws (again) and cat patrol,
For stabilizing pain and better sleep,
For opportunity to celebrate with a friend how God has worked through her year with breast cancer, for her courage in not waiting until the battle is over to praise
(from the gratitude journal, still counting, #2017-2032)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Midnight Cry {Steinway Parable}

O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
Psalm 70:12, ESV
Can you find the real animal here?

Thunk. "Eeyowww!"

Heart pounding, I jolt awake. Steinway, that's Steinway's cry. Feeling my way through the bed linens at my feet where he was, where he should be, I can't find that 3-month old ball of fur.

My eyes adjust to the reading light and I scan the daybed. The whimpering seems to be coming from inside, no, under something. Is he under the bed?

Kneeling, I raise the dust ruffle to search, but I need a flashlight to locate him, against the wall behind the milk crates full of books and out-of-season clothes.

"Shhh, shhh. Hey, baby. It's okay. I'm here. Just come on out now. It's all right. It's me. You're going to be all right."

Still he whimpers, too scared and disoriented to come to my voice.

One box slides out, two. I reach under the bed to scoop him out, but he's just that wee bit too far for me to do more than brush his fur with my fingertips.

Three boxes slide out, four. Crawling under the bed, still talking to him, trying to soothe, I gather him in the crook of my arm and back out.

"Poor little fellow. That must have been frightening to fall off the bed in your sleep. It's okay now. I've got you. There, there, you're safe now."

Sitting amidst the boxes, we rock, I coo, he settles down at last. We nestle back into the bed and sleep, him breathing ragged against my chest.

If I respond so quickly to the midnight cry of my puppy, how can I expect that God would do any less for me, His blood-bought child? When I feel like I'm in that scary, under the bed darkness at 2 a.m., sometimes the essence of faith is to cry to Him and wait for Him to come and comfort with His presence. When His Spirit comes alongside, the darkness becomes a tabernacle full of Him, my cries the incense prayers.

We are poorest when we think we have it made and on the brink of true riches when we realize our helplessness and cry out to Jesus knowing His very name is Savior.

If this finds you feeling alone and helpless in the darkness of affliction, dear Crumble, call out to God. May He draw very near to you and give you peace, the assurance of His nearness and promises to all who are His children through faith in Christ Jesus. Even if your circumstances do not change, may you know with confidence that your Father from whom darkness flees is under the bed with you.

The eyes of the LORD are towards the righteous
and his ears towards their cry.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the broken-hearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
Psalms 34:15, 17-18; 145:18, ESV

Pondering faith today with the folks at Ann's and Emily's:

Monday, October 24, 2011

When Pain Comes...

Pain is not something most people like.  That is why we run from it as fast as we can.  That is also why we aren’t free.  Jesus hardly ever goes to those places where we run.  When pain comes (or when we fear that it will come), don’t run away.  Run to it, and you will find you have run into the arms of Jesus.  In other words, buck up, face it, embrace it, and know that you and Jesus can deal with it.  Then you will laugh and dance in the freedom and the reality of God’s sufficiency and the power that becomes awesome in your weakness (Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom).

 Blessing the Lord for all His gifts once again:
~Spending time in Jesus' company in the Gospels for my morning reading
~Several portions of days with zero back-hip-foot pain
~Sinus check-up showing no bacterial infection as a result of this cold
~Substitute ENT was exceedingly kind and gentle
~Highest lupus pain week in months
~Discouraging realization that improved coping with activities of daily life is from lots of added pain medication and not from actual healing of underlying problem
~Sacrifices of praise
~Texted prayer requests
~Waves of anxiety driving me to the Savior
~Piano keys beneath my fingers
~Peace and protection while Allen traveled for a family funeral
~Time for each of us with our respective parents
~Trying on my English major hat again for Jane Eyre movie
~Waking up to wet windows and almost 2" needed rain in the gauge
~Grieving with those who grieve at neighborhood church where pastor unexpectedly passed away over the weekend
(from the gratitude journal, #1976-1990)

The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi {Book Review}

"Rome's collapse meant that Europe lost its soul--the source of its civilizational authority--and descended into the 'Dark Ages.' The Bible was the power that revived Europe. Europeans became so enthralled with God's Word that they rejected their sacred myths to hear God's Word, study it, internalize it, speak it, and promote it to build the modern world. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the West is again losing its soul. Will it relapse into a new dark age or humble itself before the Word of the Almighty God?" (Vishal Mangalwadi, Appendix, The Book That Made Your World, Kindle edition).

In The Book That Made Your World, Vishal Mangalwadi argues that all the hallmark movements and achievements of Western civilization in the last millennium emerged from a worldview based on the Bible. He presents his case by means of a thematic history of ideas interspersed with contrasting tales from the history of his native India (hence "your" in the title) and his personal experiences there. Though as heavily annotated as a history book, this is not an academic enterprise but a call to the Western world to realize and return to the source of the values we hold dear.

In Dr. Mangalwadi's view, the widespread signs of cultural, political, and fiscal distress in Europe and the United States indicate the failure of secularization's attempts to maintain the fruits of a Biblical worldview without the theological foundation.

From his vantage point as an Eastern beneficiary of Western institutions and endeavors, he sees what we have taken for granted and acts as a sighted guide through our history. He describes the birth of modern technology in medieval monasteries, the Reformation and its attendant emphases on standard national languages and universal literacy, modern medicine and hospitals, and democratic ideals. All these and more he attributes to Christians seeking to glorify God by living according to biblical truth and to non-Christians whose basic presuppositions had likewise been shaped by the Christian Scriptures. The Bible's view of God, humanity, and the physical world contrast sharply with the fundamentals of other world religions. In Dr. Mangalwadi's view that explains why significant scientific and mathematical discoveries which occurred much earlier in China, Persia, or India never impacted those cultures as a whole in the way the same discoveries impacted Europe.

This perspective on history intrigues me. Despite my familiarity with the idea that worldview shapes culture and that Western culture was shaped by a Judeo-Christian worldview which has been rejected in recent decades, much of this historical detail surprised and delighted me. My public school education neglected to mention that Luther established the principles of modern German, uniting the various dialects in his Bible translation. A similar phenomenon occurred centuries later in India, with modern Urdu and Hindi developed by Bible translators and promoted by colonial governors in need of a common language for judicial and administrative use. Likewise, I had never before encountered the concept that, while John Locke heavily influenced America's Founding Fathers, Locke's ideas in turn found their genesis in the earlier writings of English Puritans. This makes sense, since the Mayflower Compact predated the Enlightenment philosopher, but I had never heard the correlation pointed out before (and supported with Puritan primary source material).

The contrasting anecdotes and historical detail from India's history unsettle me. That so many in the author's homeland reject proffered improvement to even material circumstances, not to mention spiritual, is hard for me to comprehend. If the cultural analysis here is correct, nothing but another Great Awakening will stop the West from progressing down the same path.

The book seems to extend hope that if we in Europe and North America return to the old ways, the truth in the Book that made our world, we can halt or reverse the damage that has already been done to our institutions and culture overall. I agree with the author that the Bible is God's breathed-out revelation of Himself to our humanity, that Western culture is in crisis because of our rejection of the Bible and the God who gave it, and that we need a prophetic call to return to it. I am less confident that such a return would restore Western culture to flourishing health, but that would make it no less right a course of action. Being made by God's book is an end in itself, not just a means to an end.

All in all, The Book That Made Your World provides a fascinating historical survey and illuminating cultural perspective. It remains to be seen whether Dr. Mangalwadi's challenge is heard or heeded by those who don't already share his convictions. May God grant that it would be.

Disclosure of material connection: Through their BookSneeze®.com blogger review program, Thomas Nelson Publishers provided me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest (not necessarily positive) review. The opinions expressed are my own.

I review for BookSneeze®

Sharing in community with Laura, Michelle, and Jen today...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sermon on the Sofa {a repost from the archives}

"Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!" (Luke 12:24, NASB).

Consider the canine of the couch,
How he sleeps:
Stretched out under the wing of the girl he loves,
Head pillowed on her belly,
Does he fret or worry
Over his next meal,
Next walk,
Next vaccine?

Feel the rhythm of his sleeping breath
As he leans in.
For him there is no next,
Only now;
And now is good.

Consider him:
Lean into your Master,
Your Father,
Your rest.
He knows the now and the next.
Fret not.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sick-Day Gratitude

We are both nursing colds here and slowing even more than usual. Still, there are so many graces. "God is always good, and I am always loved," to borrow Ann Voskamp's phrase.  I lift open hands and heart in gratitude to God for

someone to share germs with,
lots of fuzz therapy from E-doggy,
readily available medications and medical care,
windows for watching the beautiful fall weather and birds,
one more inch of rain,
chicken soup and spicy Chinese food,
hot tea and cold diet 7-up,
disposable tissues,
breathing steam,
permission to stay home and unplug,
prayers for recovery without complications,
quiet rest.

(from the gratitude journal, #1913-1928))

For something more substantial and beautiful, what I would have written if I could, please visit Ann's post by clicking on the button below:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Questions? Comments? Criticisms? Rude Remarks?

(Just kidding about that last one, not that you all are the rude remark sort anyhow. The post title was a catchphrase in the youth Bible study we facilitated.)

The conversation when a family gets together around the table is as important to me as the meal. In my Italian family of origin, everyone tends to talk at once and it can be a free-for-all at times, but that's part of the fun.

That sort of interaction has been limited on the blog so far due to Blogger's comment capabilities. I've also heard from a few of you that you were frustrated trying to leave a comment in the first place.

Effective immediately, the comment interface here at crumbs is now managed by Disqus. That will be familiar territory for some of you, and you can ignore the rest of this post. For the rest, here are a few pointers to ease the transition:

  • Commenters can still open the interface through the "x comments" link in the grey-shaded box at the end of each post. The comments link appears between "Posted by tinuviel at..." and "Labels."
  • Comments can be entered in the new box that pops up. At this writing, commenters can log in with their Google, Yahoo, OpenID, or of course Disqus accounts. Once I've enabled additional spam filtration, I may open comments to anyone to make things even easier on y'all.
  • The previous "subscribe to comments by e-mail" and "subscribe to comments by RSS" buttons are still available, and RSS comment subscription still aggregates comments as it did before.
  • Previous comments are being imported as I type, so no history (theoretically) should be lost.
  • Lurking works exactly the same in the new system as it did before. [Smile.]
  • Replies to one's comments come directly to one's e-mail inbox, and one can reply to replies via e-mail as well, with replies posting to the blog directly.
  • Replying to someone's comment creates a nested conversation thread in the new system, so Crumbles can interact more easily with each other and not just with me.
Those last two points are really the goal of the transition. I'm not a fan of change, but encouraging table talk here is important to me, and as I've visited other blog friends this comment system seems to facilitate that best. If (key word: "if") we ever were to have a book club, day of prayer, or Bible study together here, a means of threaded comment conversation would be essential. I'm not saying we will do something like that, but now at least it's a possibility.

If you have other questions about the new format, please post them in a comment or contact me by e-mail and I will try to resolve the issue by e-mail or in a follow-up post. If you are an e-mail or RSS subscriber and wonder what in the world I'm talking about, you are always, always welcome to visit the crumbs from His table blog and join the conversation.

Thanks for your patience with any glitches we need to work out.

Grace and peace to you in Christ,

Hope for Hungry Hearts

If you are hungry, dear Crumbles,
Hungry for hope, hungry for healing,
If empty-bellied crowds fill your prayer list,
And your only resources are a slice of moldy Swiss
Sliding off half a Saltine,
And you despair--

Come, behold the living Word in the written Word.
Fall at His feet, the place of healing.
In His hands, a fallen crumb can heal a daughter,
And a sack lunch becomes a feast and more,
Hampers full of leftovers collected
When the empty, needy crowd is satisfied.

Behold His grace, unhindered by His disciples' forgetful unbelief.
Behold His riches, enough for every want.
Behold His compassion, spilling over the boundaries of His own people
     To all the nations, even native enemies like us.
Behold Him, and feed on His faithfulness.
He is fullness for our emptiness;
He is satisfaction of our longings;
He is hope for our hungry hearts.

These glimpses of Jesus in Mark 7:24-8:21 and Matthew 15:21-16:12 are feeding my soul this today. He is the source of all my hope, for this life and the next.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Punctured and Spared

As I rode with Allen to the train station on Friday, the sun rose with such unusual beauty, a navel orange with the top of its sphere smothered in layers of pink and blue-grey.

I reached in my handbag for my phone-camera. Hmm. I searched again. "Uh oh, my phone must still be sitting on the kitchen table." Silently I prayed that God would keep me safe from any car troubles or accident, "since I don't have a way to call for help." Even as I thought the words, I realized my primary functional trust at that moment lay in that phone and the people to whom it connected me rather that God alone, and that's idolatry.* I'm sorry, Lord; have mercy on my unbelief.

The photo opportunity had passed by then anyway, and my thoughts quickly moved on to a rehearsal of the dance steps required for a full day to run smoothly. Walk, shower, vet, doctor,... Several things needed doing Friday (a) by me or (b) sooner than Allen would be able to do them Saturday afternoon (see a). With careful choreography, I could accomplish them efficiently and still have time for the necessary afternoon nap.

Allen pulled into the transit parking lot, and after a quick hug and kiss he was gone and I was in the driver's seat.

As I came around the median in the turn toward home, there it was: a long, narrow, black strip of debris stretched across my lane. There was not time to check mirrors and blind spot for a safe shift to the next lane, so I tried to evade the obstacle within my own lane, even though it just looked like a harmless strip of tire. Allen's ninja reflexes could have handled it easily. As for mine...

Front tires, clear.

Back tires,... Pfffft from the rear passenger side. It sounded suspiciously like my scissors slashing through the air pillows that cushion an online order. But maybe it's just a leak. Not flat flat.

Flappity-flappity-flappity. No, healthy tires do not flap. Pfffft went my carefully arranged choreography for the day.

So many thoughts crowded my mind as I rolled down the hill and steered into the CVS lot:

Well, Lord, You love me enough not to let me off the hook for misplaced trust. What are we going to do now?

Thank You, Lord, for prodding me to delay Allen long enough to exchange pajama pants for yoga pants. And a ball cap. Best decision all day.

Thank You that we have roadside assistance service if I can just get to a phone.

Thank You that even though Allen is on the train headed downtown and can't get back to me my dad is home today and hasn't left for their day trip. (That was the reason Allen had driven to the train to begin with; my dad, his normal carpool, was taking a long weekend and I had to keep our car for my appointment.) Three cheers for Daddy! He's the next best thing to Allen, and he knows how to change a tire. (I might, ahem, possibly know this from prior experience.)

Before I entered the drugstore to beg the use of their phone, I checked my purse once more. And twice. And three times. Nope, no phone. Sigh.

Giving thanks again for the gift of hats and ponytails and lamenting my yet unwashed face, I walked into the building and greeted the familiar woman by the photo desk. I explained I'd flattened the tire and didn't have my cell phone with me. Could I please...? "Yes," she answered, "yes, of course you can use the phone."

Checking my watch, I dialed the number my parents have had since I was in elementary school. Five rings elapsed. Oops, they must still have been asleep, but they're probably awake by now because of the phone, so I might as well...

Six, seven, eight,... a sleepy Mezzo (my middle sister) answered. No, Dad wasn't up yet. Oh, okay. Normally I would have waited, but I was still trying to get to my doctor on time, so I told her I'd call roadside assistance to put the spare on, but could she ask Mom and Dad if I could borrow the car they weren't using today?

As I stepped her through the plan a second time (I had just waked her up, after all), the employee I'd seen outside as I drove up interrupted me: "Excuse, me, ma'am? Is that all you need, a tire changed? That's easy; I can do that. Just let me finish this and I'll help you out."

Whew. Another explanation to Mezzo with the revised plan, and I'd call her back when I reached home.

Stephen, who turned out to be the store manager, had my tire changed in 15 minutes flat, the time it would have taken my dad to get to me and start the process. Already blogging the experience in my head, I started to ask if I could snap his picture and had even reached for my purse when I remembered: no phone. (Gotta be quick with me.)

Ebony inspecting Stephen's work after the car and I got home

After profuse thanks to Stephen, I drove cautiously home, where I called Allen to bring him up to speed and arranged for my folks to bring their second car by on their way to visit my grandmother. No one, it seems, thought it was a good idea for me to drive our car with the spare on (and no spare in the trunk).

To my amazement, the choreography came off smoothly, with just two steps of the dance rearranged and the nap eliminated. By the end of the day, I was as flat as the tire in the trunk, but my heart was full and singing. Through it all, so many "channels of adoration" opened up, and I tasted in at least a small way that the Lord is good, that my forgetfulness and driving mistakes do not hinder His power to help, that the strength of my connection to Him and not my mobile phone network is my security, and that sometimes His messengers of deliverance wear CVS uniforms and tattoos.

Maybe I should go back to the store and get a photo of Stephen for this post. Now, where's my cell phone?

*This may not have registered immediately except that lately I've been listening to Tim Challies's convicting analysis of the digital explosion's impact on our brains and culture and the Christian response. If you prefer, you can obtain the print  or e-book edition of his book The Next Story here or at your local bookstore.

Monday is gone, but the opportunities for gratitude are not. Last week held so many gracious gifts from my God and Savior. Here are a few:
~His love, mercy, and humor in disciplining me
~Safety and nothing worse than punctured pride, plans, and tire
~Cell phones
~Phone numbers known by heart without a phonebook
~Stephen and CVS
~Choreography coming together
~Stamina for a full week that picked up speed as it progressed
~Allen getting the tire replaced for me
~Only 1 PT appointment last week and
~Dave's decision to release me to an "as needed" basis for therapy. That means he gave me a game plan to continue increasing difficulty on the exercises at home, and I don't need to return to the therapy center unless I plateau or regress. Hallelujah!
~Calling my grandmother towards the end of a lonely day and hearing her say my call made her day
~Good report and kindness from my asthma doctor
~Care packages!!! A real-life care package from my online friend Brandee
Afternoon tea a la Brandee, with Typhoo Decaf in my favorite cup
~Oatmeal cookies and pumpkin bread, yum!
~Morning Bible readings in the Gospels
~Three full inches of rain over the weekend
~Muddy paws
~Leisurely lunch visit with my parents yesterday
~Return of the monarchs
~New feathered friends at the feeder
~Sleeping until almost 8 on a weekday morning, due to an unusual work schedule for A. this week
(From the gratitude list, #1858-1879)

linking with Ann, Laura, and Jen today:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Autumn Hope

The trees are weeping
Great arid tears
Of scarlet, gold, and flame—
Mourning winter’s onset
And doubting spring will come again.

Autumns sings in a minor key, bagpipes droning the slave trader's hymn. Loss, surrender, relinquishment thrum beneath the glory of the turning leaves, the crisp cool air, the gentler light.

Even as tree limbs release their grip on summer's glory and exhalations of wind carry it down, down, down to the earth, farmers gather in their harvests, the golden glory-fruit of so many seeds of hope buried in soil nourished by the weeping of the trees.

"I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop" (John 12:24, HCSB).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Channels of Adoration

This rediscovered passage from C.S. Lewis's Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer shone a slightly different light on this Monday practice of joining my voice with the Gratitude Community at A Holy Experience:
...pleasures are shafts of the glory [of God] as it strikes our sensibility. As it impinges on our will or our understanding, we give it different names--goodness or truth or the like. But its flash upon our senses and mood is pleasure.
   I have tried, since that moment [of first realizing the above], to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don't mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I mean something different. How shall I put it?
   We can't--or I can't--hear the song of a bird simply as a sound. Its meaning or message ("That's a bird") comes with it inevitably--just as one can't see a familiar word in print as a merely visual pattern. The reading is as involuntary as the seeing. When the wind roars I don't just hear the roar; I "hear the wind." In the same way it is possible to "read" as well as to "have" a pleasure. Or not even "as well as." The distinction ought to become, and sometimes is, impossible; to receive it and to recognize its divine source are a single experience. This heavenly fruit is instantly redolent of the orchard where it grew. This sweet air whispers of the country from whence it blows. It is a message. We know we are being touched by a finger of that right hand at which there are pleasures for evermore. There need be no question of thanks or praise as a separate event, something done afterwards. To experience the tiny theophany is itself to adore.
   Gratitude exclaims, very properly, "How good of God to give me this." Adoration says, "What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!" One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.
   If I could always be what I aim at being, no pleasure would be too ordinary or too usual for such reception; from the first taste of the air when I look out of the window--one's whole cheek becomes a sort of palate--down to one's soft slippers at bedtime (pp.89-90).
Gratitude is good, commanded, right. This idea of turning all into adoration of the good God who creates and sustains it, though,...this captures my imagination and challenges me to keep growing.

What is this adoration? I think I have sipped it here and there, but reading Lewis I want to drink deeply, long draughts of the Glory, to drink until I gasp for breath. Too often the busy, the worry, the emergencies that aren't, these things drive me away and I wonder why I thirst. The Martha in me bustles busy and distracted, back and forth to the well to draw, and I forget to let the concerns draw me to His feet where I find the one good thing. I forget to drink the only water that gives life, the adoration I was made for.

It's been a quiet week, but here are a few of the Glory-shafts which have hit home. I thank God for them and aim at following them back to their beautiful source in Him.
~"The LORD is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds" (Ps. 145:17).
~grace of no medical appointments last week
~courage to call and leave a message for the friend whose phone number I so serendipitously received the preceding week
~creative minds that produce wise books
~listening to the autumnal beauty of Hannah Coulter, understanding my farm-raised, Greatest Generation grandmothers better through it
~seeing myself in the Pharisees' stubborn preoccupation with rules and systems
~God's grace and the blessing of losses to temper that tendency
~Jesus' courage to speak what He heard from His Father and do the deeds of His Father, even though He knew full well that His obedience would set in motion the opposition culminating in the cross
~e-mailed prayers given and received
~God's encouragement from a reader's note about her mom's decades of great life with lupus
~funniest sermon illustration in a long time...
~...that actually pertained to the message at hand
~laughing with others until it hurts: another sunbeam to chase
~celebrating with my sister Mezzo her paid gig in a Bach cantata next month
~God's sovereignty over weather and drought: brief, not forecast pop-up thunderstorm to end a hundred-degree day last week; splendid forecast for this week that could only be improved with rain
(still counting...#1788-1802)