Monday, April 30, 2012

A Monday Prayer from Psalm 42

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?

Why? The waves of change and paperwork and milestones and appointments breaking over me have overwhelmed. It's a lot to take in, Lord, even though so much of it is good, and I'm not sure where even to begin. The intense emotions of goodbyes and hellos, aging and growing, wounding and healing, have caught me off guard and knocked me off balance.

Deep calls to deep at the roar of Your waterfalls;
all Your breakers and Your waves have gone over me.

Your breakers, Your waves. I'm still off balance, but since they're Yours, they are blessed. In Your hands they can buoy, not break. Teach me to surf them and not be plowed down by them?

By day the LORD commands His steadfast love,
and at night His song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

The Puritan quoted in a book I read last week exhorted Christ's people to rely on God's promises. Here is one for today. Thank You, Lord, for commanding Your steadfast love. Thank You for the lullabies you sing with me at night. You are the God of my life. Your steadfast love is better than stability any day.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
my salvation and my God.

Thank You, Lord. You are my hope. You are my praise. You are my salvation. You are my God.

Thank You for your mercies this past week to encourage me to trust You for fresh mercy this day:
a good report from the sinus doctor
Your Spirit moving a friend to check on me on a hard day
attending Dad's retirement lunch with Mom, sisters, and brother-in-law
his idea for us to wear our international clothes
feeling loved in my ivory silk tailored by our fellow servants in V--tnam as a wedding gift
that it still fits despite pounds gained
hearing such accolades, things we already knew about him but enjoyed others recognizing too
his excitement over new freedom to serve You
lots of good memories of working alongside him and college study days at his office
Mom's fall and head injury proved to be mild concussion and nothing worse
Your sovereignty
sharing testimonies in comments
Allen's friends celebrating him in his last week at the job he's held the past 5 years
celebration meals
house helper's encouragement
unexpected gift in post
grace for a computer mistake
bees and butterflies in abundance
encouragement from the (in)RL Web conference
finding my missing memory verse spiral
Allen's excitement for his first day on his new job
Dad's excitement for his last day in the computer business
opportunity to go to the side of a friend whose dog passed away this morning 
comfort received, comfort shared
(Joy Dare #5723-5746)

Friday, April 27, 2012

(in)RL This Weekend

In case you didn't know, the ladies at the (in)courage blog have put together a Web-based conference to offer Christian encouragement to women at a very low cost. You don't even need to leave home to attend. No childcare, what-to-wear dilemma, packing bags, or airport security required.

Today's material streams again at 5 pm and 8 pm (CDT), and the rest is available at viewers' convenience for 48 hours beginning at midnight tonight (or technically Saturday morning). It's not too late to register here: If community, friendship, and choosing joy are areas you struggle with at all, today's session will be time well spent. (Snacks, tea/coffee, and tissues recommended.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In Defense of Bodies

Snow Barista in Temple, Texas, Easter 2007

Four years ago, my husband and I held our Easter worship driving north on I-35 through snow-covered bluebonnets.  We had left his parents' home before church to detour to my grandfather's hospital room.  He had just been diagnosed with kidney disease that would require dialysis.  That visit on Easter afternoon was the last time my husband saw him and the last time I saw him strong enough to engage in dialogue.  It turned out that lymphoma had caused his kidneys to fail.  He passed away Tuesday, April 24.

This year Easter coincides with the anniversary of his death and Holy Week seems more than usually haunted by words and ideas of death in my reading and listening (not intentional on my part).

Yesterday on the phone, my grandmother said that after she goes to Mass Sunday she will go to the cemetery to see him.  "When we used to go visit [the graves of our neighbors], Nonno would always say, 'They're not here, you know.  These are just shells.' I know he's not really there either, but I go anyway."  She spoke apologetically, as though needing an excuse for her actions.

The strands of my thoughts were too entangled to respond the way I wanted to at that moment, but upon reflection this is what I wish I had said to her:

It's okay.  Bodies matter.  His body matters.

It is with our bodies, largely, that we sin.  With our bodies and not only souls or spirits we serve God and neighbor, obey or disobey, comfort or wound.  With our bodies we love.  It is our bodies we are called to present as "living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Rom. 12:1, ESV).  It is my grandfather's gruff, smoky (though he never smoked) laugh that I miss, his broad, square hand patting my shoulder as I left, the leathery feel of that brown hand in mine, the strong feel of his barrel chest against my face when I hugged him, his form standing in old slippers in the doorway as we drove up.  Even in the case of my little dog Steinway, gone almost two years now, it's his smell I miss, the feel of his fur, his specific gravity in my arms, not some amorphous essence of Steinway-ness.  Bodies matter.

It was in a body, a real body, that the eternal Son of God, second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, was born and lived; it was His body which suffered, bled, thirsted, accepted nails and thorny crowns; it was His body which cried out, breathed His last.  His dead body laid in a new tomb rose again the third day.  Mary wept in the Sunday dawn because His body was missing; she tried to cling to His risen body when He said her name.  The risen Christ was no disembodied spirit being but spoke, ate, could be touched, and still bore the wounds of nails and spear.  Because of His Incarnation, Passion,  Resurrection, and bodily Ascension to the right hand of the Father, our bodies matter even more.

Because He died and conquered death in resurrection, the remains filling the cemetery my grandmother visits, the remains of all who have died in Christ in all the world, will someday rise again at the last trumpet.  They will rise again, renewed, redeemed, reclothed with resurrection flesh in the likeness of the risen Christ.  If I understand the Scriptures correctly on that (and always, that is an "if"), in the new heavens and earth yet to come, we will not be disembodied spirits but like Christ will have new bodies, untouched and untouchable by death, disease, and decay (see 1 Corinthians 15).  Bodies matter.

The Good Friday Christians around the world observe today is only good because Christ "himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; 'by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24, NIV1984, emphasis mine).  Without His death and resurrection, I would still be in my sins and my own death would be without hope.

I don't know if my grandmother would understand this; for that matter, I'm not sure I do.  But if the subject arises again, this is what I would tell her:  "It's okay to visit the cemetery.  The remains in that grave do matter. Bodies matter.  They matter to God as well as to you."

Besides, what better place to look back to Jesus' resurrection and forward to ours?  Cemeteries are quiet now, but they will be a sight to behold on that "great gettin' up mornin'."  I don't know about you, friend, but I can hardly wait.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His gloryby the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21, NASB, emphasis mine).

an edited repost from the archives, shared with these lovely communities:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring at Wits' End

Since I didn't get around to the photos for last week's list and I'm running low on words this evening after an appointment downtown, let's keep this simple. However your week has begun, I pray the Lord stills and rests your heart for these next moments as you scroll down.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8, NIV1984

Thank You, Lord, for
Your kind gift of a beautiful creation,
mallards and finches and sparrows,
hollyhocks and larkspur,
edible plants,
butterflies drinking in nectar and soaring free
a moth as big as a hummingbird
the heavens declaring Your glory

a bruised foot healing slowly
good lab results from annual check-up
no bone loss from last year
my Father using my body to tell me to still
good sinus report today!
good job news for brother-in-law
answered prayer

praying with kind women after Bible study
talking over Numbers
the beauty of watching a young man worship his way off a television talent show
("He is everything" to me too)
(Gratitude journal # 5606-5618)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


(a work in progress)

It was on Good Friday it happened.

My parents had raised me in church:
Sunday service,
Sunday school,
choir and handbells,
learning a creed, a Psalm, a prayer,
a commandment or ten,
confirming vows with my classmates,
and I thought doing those things made me a Christian.
(I even read my Bible on my own at night for extra credit, to round out my resume.)

I was firstborn, perfectionist, eager to please parents and teachers,
a "good kid," except when I snuck change off my dad's dresser
or lied to avoid punishment or amaze and amuse my friends.
My good was good enough for the grown-ups,
so I thought it was good enough for God.

On that Good Friday twenty-five years back,
I didn't know I was lost, but
He found me,
there on my knees beside the bed,
fretting over possible embarrassment in singing alone for the first time.
He gave me new eyes,
better than first glasses,
and suddenly I saw what I had not seen:
that perfectionism wasn't perfection,
that only perfect was good enough for God,
that only Jesus was the good enough,
that the Good Enough sweated life's blood and died for sins not His own,
for my sins, all my own.

My resume was rubbish,
my Sunday best smeared and tattered,
and I was as dead as an armadillo on the interstate.
I saw this,
and it took my breath away,
and He breathed in His,
His pneuma-breath-Spirit,
and I lived again for the very first time.

Singing was my birth cry,
"Thy will be done."
The trumpets that Easter rejoiced for me,
and I went to Sunday service,
Sunday school,
choir and handbells.
I said the creed, prayed the prayers, sang the hymns,
and they lived with His presence.
How had I missed Him there all these years?
I even read the Bible in the mornings,
for joy,
for sustenance,
for He was there.

I couldn't get enough of Him,
yet found enough in Him,
my Lord Jesus Christ.

That Good Friday was my Good Friday too,
and my Easter, all in one,
when I was crucified with Christ,
when my tomb was emptied
and my life hidden with Christ in God.

By grace I have been saved.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
He saved us,
not because of works done by us in righteousness,
but according to His own mercy,
by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs
according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:4-7, ESV

Pondering the practice of Resurrection with the friends at Ann's and Emily's:

I Live in An Antbed

Monday, April 16, 2012

The God for Whom We Wait

It will be said in that day,
"Behold, this is our God;
we have waited for Him, that He might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for Him;
let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
Isaiah 25:9, ESV

My little family has dwelt under a particular burden for years now. Some trials grow so prolonged that one ceases to pray regularly for change and focuses on prayers for endurance and patience with joy. Andrew Murray's words helped me again with this recently:
One of the chief needs in our waiting upon God, one of the deepest secrets of its blessedness and blessing, is a quiet, confident persuasion that it is not in vain; courage to believe that God will hear and help; we are waiting on a God who never could disappoint His people (Waiting on God, Kindle location 285).
In the last two weeks, wholly unexpectedly, this burden has lifted in a perfectly timed turn of events. In addition to answering the specific prayers for guidance regarding a significant change of circumstances, this one provision has answered a constellation of other requests I would have thought unrelated. Amazing, isn't it, how He can devise a better answer than the fifteen blueprints I offered Him in my impatience?

It feels like walking into a finely appointed hotel room and discovering that every need and wish has already been anticipated and met. Is this how Joseph felt when he was ushered so precipitously from the prison to Pharaoh's palace?

Even so, the Puddleglum part of me murmurs, "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. What's the catch here?"

The Lord replies, through a Bible study lesson, with the examples of Caleb and Joshua, the faithful scouts whose regard for God's power and faithfulness surpassed their assessment of the obstacles to taking the land promised to the patriarchs of Israel. "Faith brings rest; unbelief brings unrest," said the teacher on the DVD.

Again, in the homework on Numbers, I hear this from the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich:
This word: Thou shalt not be overcome, was said full clearly and full mightily, for assuredness and comfort against all tribulations that may come. He said not: Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be afflicted; but He said: Thou shalt not be overcome. God willeth that we take heed to these words, and that we be ever strong in sure trust, in weal and woe. For He loveth and enjoyeth us, and so willeth He that we love and enjoy Him and mightily trust in Him; and all shall be well (from Chapter 68, Revelations of Divine Love).
Today, then, we celebrate answered prayers and find in them renewed strength to bear those for which the answer yet remains, "No." The many clear marks of God's hand in this change provide no assurance of an easy path ahead, but they do assure of His leading, and because of He who leads loves us and has quite the track record of power and faithfulness, we can move forward in trust in Him who gives rest and victory.

Dear crumble, some of you I know are also in a waiting place; in prayer we wait together for the help you need. God has not forgotten you. He will answer in the best way and time. May He do so in a way that glorifies His name, strengthens your faith, and gives you a story to share of His faithfulness. Even when the answer is no and no and no again, a day is coming, as in the Scripture heading this post, when we will see the God we await and all our hopes will be fulfilled.

It has been a roller-coaster week here, and a mere few of the things for which I thank our Lord include
God's clear guidance::answers to prayer::His patient faithfulness to correct and bear with me::eucatastrophe in action
:lovely mail from two different crumbles who, unbeknownst to one another, sent postcards from their travels:
so much encouragement and affirmation for my beloved::desire even for a particular coffee fulfilled
health insurance::first hollyhocks blooming in the garden::first monarch sighted on the lawn
choosing yarn for a friend's baby::tangible expression of hope::lunch with my mom and a mutual friend
::prayer support::appointment with Dr. Honeycomb::stable asthma::bag full of prescription samples::
watching soccer (futbol) with my two favorite guys::waiting over for a permanent pastor at our church
::a gracious compliment from an acquaintance at church::listening ears::mysterious bruise on the ball of my foot::
no appointments with orthopedist until April 30::new opportunities to exercise trust::our trustworthy God
(taking the Joy Dare, #5520-5544; photos to follow separately)

I Live in An Antbed

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Drink {a poem}

concerning John 4:1-42

Drained of usefulness,
Discarded by the roadside
Like an empty amber bottle
Tossed out the window
To shatter on the shoulder,
Only to be swept up,
Ready for the next thirsty customer.

Five times used,
Smarter this time,
Two can play at this game.

My own bottle trades
For a ten-cent deposit.
Broken? It sure is,
But lips bloodied by the drinking are
Better than dying of thirst.
Aren’t they?

Five times been known,
            Five times rejected.
Better now to hide myself
In the loneliness
Of the glaring noonday sun,
Bright enough to keep inquiring minds
            And catcalls from the well,
But no light bright enough
To bleach my scarlet letter—
Indelible ink—
Mama warned me—
To match the faded landscape.

“Give Me a drink?”
Great, another one.
And a Jew, at that.
He should know better.

“If you knew who I am. . . “
More to the point,
If You knew who I am,
We wouldn’t be having this conversation,
But this is a new line, even to me.
OK, I’ll bite:
Tell me more;
(Big shot, eh?
Might be time for me
To cash in
And trade up.)

More promises:
Water to quench
The unquenchable.
A bloomin’ spring,
My own well,
Life that never runs dry.

Suddenly I’m very tired,
Tired of the thirst,
            The bloody lips,
                        The long, hot hiding.
‘Sir, give me this water.’

“Go, call your husband and come back.”
There it is—
I brace for the blow,                                        
Found out again.
Unless. . .
Maybe a way out? Truth?
‘I have no husband.’

Hope shatters.
He knows me already
For the broken bottle I am.
If He knew all along,
Why is He still here?
Has my reputation preceded me—
Is this just one more thirsty customer
Looking for a cheap drink?
Funny, He doesn’t seem like all the others.
What then, a prophet?
Here’s a test:
‘Where should we worship?’
“A time is coming. . .
            Salvation from the Jews. . .
A time is coming and is here. . .
            True worshipers. . .
                        The Father seeks. . .
                                  Spirit and truth. . .”

The Father seeking worshipers,
            This Man seeking me.
       Water seeking out a desert.
Seeking me,
            Even knowing whom He seeks?
Such acceptance:  surely not

“I who speak to you am He.”

A well springs up,
Bubbling and dancing
All over the Samaritan landscape,
“Come and see!
Come and see!
He knows!
He knows it all!
Come and see Messiah!

More springs gush and ripple,
The whole town flooded
With living water
From one broken bottle
Given a Drink.

pondering Good News with the community at Ann's today:

and redemption with Emily and friends: 

Monday, April 9, 2012

He Arose!

...God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling,
not according to our works,
but according to His own purpose and grace
which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,
but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,
who abolished death
and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel...
2 Timothy 1:9-10, NASB

Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o'er his foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
and He lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Robert Lowry (1826-1899)

That chorus by Robert Lowry, with its trumpet-fanfare melody, supplied the soundtrack in my head Sunday morning. I mentioned it to my beloved on the way to church and commented that I didn't even know where I'd sung it last. Lo and behold, it had been chosen as the closing hymn for our worship service as well.

The resurrection of Christ has given so many gifts that we mortals can never plumb the depths of them or count their number. Even the fifty days from Easter to Pentecost prove insufficient for preachers and poets to enumerate them all.

Christ's victory over death and the grave strikes me especially this year as I consider all the bereavements sustained among family and friends. His death and resurrection disarmed the devil and liberated His children from the fear of death:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives (Hebrews 2:14-15, NASB).
His death and resurrection assuage our grief with the sure hope of reunion someday, reunion not only with our Lord Christ, but also with all we love (even those we have never met in this life but love through their writings or examples), when He gathers His saints to Himself at the last trumpet:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:13-17, NASB).
For those suffering in body, Christ's resurrection prefigures our own and so strengthens us with the hope of a new, better body like that of His resurrection, which the Gospels testify could eat and be touched and walk and cook and enter locked rooms. Whatever aches and pains beset my loved ones or me today, they will have an end; one day I will have a body that works perfectly, not bound by the shackles of sin and the fruit of fallenness.
For the trumpet will sound, 
and the dead will be raised incorruptible, 
and we will be changed. 
53 For this corruptible must be clothed 
with incorruptibility, 
and this mortal must be clothed 
with immortality (1 Cor 15:52-53, HCSB).
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Phil. 3:20-21, ESV).
Most important of all, the resurrection of Christ demonstrates publicly, once for all, that He is who He said He is and did what He said He would do. The empty tomb assures us that the death of the God-Man on the cross was indeed sufficient to cover our sins. Paul told the Corinthian church, who were apparently uncertain whether the dead could be raised at all, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17, HCSB). Thanks be to God, He has been raised, and forgiveness is available to all who believe in His name.
For I [Paul] passed on to you as most important what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4, HCSB).
 "He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!"

Because He lives, I continue to give thanks to God for all things:
salvation from sins, past, present, and future::hope of physical and spiritual transformation
::comfort in grief::hymns in my heart::Messiah on the radio Easter afternoon::
unexpected, perfectly timed professional encouragement for my husband
::babies at the park::crossing paths with an old friend::encouraging words in person and in print::
in prayer, sharing the burden of a friend's prolonged, complicated cancer treatment
::answered prayers for no life lost in the 15 tornadoes that swept through our area Tuesday::
finding kind notes from a decade and two ago::worshipping in community on Easter Sunday
::celebrating the Resurrection with family::friends who check up on me::
"Christ is risen; He is risen indeed. Alleluia!"
(gratitude list #5420-5435)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What Love

Now before the Feast of the Passover,
Jesus knowing that His hour had come
that He would depart out of this world to the Father,
having loved His own who were in the world,
He loved them to the end.
John 13:1, NASB

After a hasty lunch and filling Ebony's treat ball with his, I bundled myself and my belongings out to the car for a medical checkup. Ebony ran into the garage after me, treat ball clattering on the concrete where he dropped it. Before I could register what was happening, he ran around my legs and leaped into the car ahead of me.

Now, he does ride in the car occasionally, to the vet, the kennel, my mom's house, or the coffee shop drive-through. None of these had recently transpired, however, and he has never before shown any great zeal for riding shotgun. Moreover, Ebony loves to eat and especially to eat out of his ball. Chasing his lunch around the house is a highlight of his day. Every day. Sometimes supper too.

On this day, he abandoned his full treat ball in hopes of riding in the car with me to parts unknown.

Allen, home for the day, was already chasing him down to gather him back into the house so I could make my appointment, but the realization had stopped me in my tracks for a moment: Ebony loves me. Well, I knew that and so did you. The thing is, he really loves me, and not just because I'm the person who feeds him and gives him rawhide bones and sometimes plays his favorite game. He loves me just for me. He loves me more than food. (And that's saying something. He's part Lab.) He loves me so much he'd rather ride in the car with me to someplace potentially yucky than stay home and eat.

That thought carried me through the rest of a long afternoon and took me down memory lane to our return from Bangkok and the way Steinway greeted me, after a year apart, like I was the prodigal mama come home.

In my reading that week from John's eyewitness account of the last week of Jesus' life, Jesus' love dripped like Mary's perfume from every page, like the water from the basin as He loved in humble service. He loves me, He loves me, He loves me, all the way through Gethesemane and Golgotha, all the way to the garden of the empty tomb and beyond. "Jesus loves me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

And yet--

And yet, on most days Ebony's love feels more real to me than my Lord's.

Perhaps that's why centuries of Christian tradition sets this week, this Holy Week, apart as the Week of weeks on the church calendar. Perhaps that's why our local congregation observes the Lord's Supper each and every week. My ears are dull, my heart slow to believe the love God has for us, for me. Only remembering and remembering and remembering can imprint His love on my heart as my name is nail-writ on His hands.
Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:26b-29, ESV).
My Lord and my God, we believe; help our unbelief. You have shown us beyond a shadow of a doubt the love You have for us, that love which soaked the cross with Messiah's blood, the love which stoops to wash the feet of the one who will deny Him, the love which faced down death to rescue from its clutches all who believe in Christ the Lord as Savior, the love which "knew no sin [but became] sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Grant us the blessing of those who have not seen and yet have believed.  Let the remembrance of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Messiah quicken our hearts to fresh trust in Your love and to a fresh pouring out of Your love to our brothers and sisters. In the name of this Jesus we pray, Amen.

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Waiting on God

If you were to ask me to describe my prayer life in one word right now, that word would be "waiting." Not only do I find myself in the waiting room in numerous matters in my own household but also in significant concerns among friends and family: waiting for job news, waiting for medical answers, waiting for the cancer to go into remission, waiting for a move, waiting for a baby, waiting for the Easter Bunny. (That last one was just to see if you were awake, although it is pretty significant to my little nephews.)

Today my heart finds company with the anonymous psalmist who penned Psalm 130:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

The South African missionary statesman Andrew Murray also mentors me in the waiting as I read his devotional classic, Waiting on Godincluding this prayer:
Blessed Father! We humbly beseech Thee, Let none that wait on Thee be ashamed; no, not one. Some are weary, and the time of waiting appears long. And some are feeble, and scarcely know how to wait. And some are so entangled in the effort of their prayers and their work, they think that they can find no time to wait continually. Father, teach us all how to wait. Teach us to think of each other, and pray for each other. Teach us to think of Thee, the God of all waiting ones. Father! Let none that wait on Thee be ashamed. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
Waiting is a good and right place to be, I suppose, in this week before Easter. My waiting can become waiting with Jesus (in the gospels) for His betrayal and crucifixion, waiting with the women and John at the foot of the cross, waiting with Mary at the tomb to know where they have laid her Lord. We who wait are in good company.

Thanks be to God, we wait in hope: in hope of the knowledge of the resurrection, in hope that His Word does not fall to the ground without accomplishing its purpose, in hope that "with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities."

Love and redemption are sure, so let us wait well and not lose heart.

How are you doing? Are you also in a waiting mode? If you'd like to share, what one word best describes your prayer life or walk with God right now?

Tuesday evening update: Ironically, after I posted this a severe storm system rolled through our area. It produced multiple tornadoes and large hail. Ebony and I spent most of the afternoon waiting out the storms in our safest room with cell phone, foam mattress pads, a hard hat, and of course his blanket. We are all fine here, but I wanted to add a note in case any readers heard of the storms on the news and were concerned for us. Other cities in the area sustained considerable damage, so first responders and relief agencies are concentrating efforts to help those who have lost power, property, or even homes in those parts of the area. Not a few people lost every material possession, but human lives seem to have been spared to a remarkable degree. The kind of storm that can toss big-rig trailers around like Hot Wheels cars has a way of bringing home how small and weak even the strongest of us is.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Considering the Bluebonnets

And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith?
Matt. 6:28-30, HCSB
My dear husband took last week off work for his birthday and to finish up a nagging home maintenance project. As we drove to his birthday supper, we saw them: fields of bluebonnets quite near our home. Last year I searched and searched for our state flower in my small sphere, but to no avail. The record-breaking drought kept the bluebonnets away.

This year abundant spring rains have yielded abundant wildflowers. Such a trove so accessible proved irresistible. My pain level has been up these last two weeks and my energy down, but I asked the Lord that night for a chance to play in the flowers and bring home some pictures. The next morning I awoke without any pain for the first time in recent memory; the respite didn't last, but neither did I waste the opportunity.

As I arrived at the site, high school students strolled by, laden with their heavy packs and  hoodies. One pair asked as they passed me, wrapped in all my sun-protective clothing and crouched in the flowers, whether I was a professional photographer or just taking pictures for fun. Do professionals take a point-and-click to photo shoots? I grinned and said just for fun, which it was.

The fields of blue rejoiced my heart, and wordless gratitude bubbled over in me as I basked in the beauty, listened to the drone of happy bees around my ankles, and attempted unsuccessfully to achieve a good shot of a ladybug spiraling up and down the stalk of one flower.

Another pair, this time an older woman and her husky dog, approached. When the woman made eye contact, I effused, "Aren't they just gorgeous this year?" Her gaze sharpened, examining me, before she replied, "What? Oh. Sure." Then she hurried on her way.

The dog at her side pranced through the bluebonnets wearing the biggest grin I've ever seen on a husky.

The nonchalance stunned me. Perhaps weeks of walking through fields of beauty have desensitized her; perhaps she had had a particularly hard day at work and just wanted to be alone with her thoughts and not interrupted by a crazy camera-wielding stranger. I don't know and have no basis to criticize or judge her for not sharing my enthusiasm.

Looking to myself, however, I must wonder: where have I become calloused to God's glory through frequent use? When was the last time I marveled at His handiwork in the person created in His image who sits next to me at breakfast? Am I truly cognizant and grateful for the daily grace of a roof over my head and plenty of food in the house for a week, not just today? Where have I begun to take for granted the miracle of the manna of God's morning mercies?

Jesus told His hearers on the mountain to study the birds and wildflowers that they might not be anxious but trust God's superlative care. That's really what these Monday gatherings are about, is it not? Slowing to treasure and count a scant smattering of God's abundant blessings, slowing to acknowledge Him as God and give Him thanks allows gratitude to peel back a layer of the callouses that harden our hearts to His goodness.

With that, let me return thanks to the God who clothes the wildflowers and cares so well for me:
~a productive week off for Allen
~fresh coat of paint on the whole of the house
~sympathetic words from my doctor and another referral to possible help with pain management
~an unexpected opportunity to offer a listening ear and a hug to a pharmacist for whom I've been praying regularly
~brick-oven pizza date for my honey's birthday
~waking up one morning without any pain for the first time in many months
~bluebonnets and the opportunity to spend time in them
~short-lived respite from pain
~sweet notes by mail and email from bloggy friends
~bragging on you all to my doctor
~an Easter lily trumpeting hope again
~one trumpet bloom opening in the silence while we were at church
~a visit with my grandmother (answered prayer)
~more bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush along the highway embankments
~first rose blooming out in the garden
~more birthday cake with my dad
~words of encouragement given and received after church
~body telling me to slow down
~a nest of nine duck eggs at the pond
~birds serenading us, reminding me of a friend and all our reasons to praise their Maker
~prayers for a friend struggling through an infection that's impairing her recovery from final breast cancer surgeries (hard eucharisteo)
~the Palm Sunday reminder of Jesus' freedom from the pressure to meet our expectations, even though it provoked the temple leadership to send Him to His death (fulfilling Scripture in spite of themselves)
~His supremacy over all things on earth and in heaven (Colossians 1-2)
(from the gratitude journal, #5319-5341)

Thank *you* for your kind comments. Although I have done poorly in responding to them of late, I do read and treasure each one. Your names accompany my days as the Lord brings you to mind for prayer. Grace to you in Jesus the crucified and risen Lord.