Friday, March 29, 2013

The Seed-Promise


And all in love

                these sufferings come--

Like snow upon the winter's breath.

                We see the lonely earth

                                      buried in death, and wonder


Our eyes are dim,

      our hearts are cold,

                       though aching, though disputing

                                            with the Maker of our souls,

                                                              Who turns the galaxies, unaided.

O, how jaded is our vision!


     beneath the snow,

                within the earth's worn soil

the seed of grace has fallen--

                    These bitter winter winds

cannot have taken

                   its sweet promise.

The breath of spring will come again --

                The icy wind, rebuked,

                                  will flee away,

and day

         redressed in verdant garments,

will dance again through stony trees.

                                         The breeze of comfort

dries the stain of sadness.

                             Where grief was guest

The Son of hope restores . . .

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Sinner's Lovesong


My song is love unknown, my Savior’s love to me,

Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.

Oh, who am I that for my sake

My Lord should take frail flesh and die?

-Samuel Crossman

“Love to the loveless shown that they may lovely be . . . “ And I in flesh and bone and all my shortcomings and all my wandering frustrations concentrated, deliberate, stormy choices, disobedience, fallings, pain. Eyes aghast I look at Him-bleeding, perfect, spotless Lamb, innocent and holy—there is no connection, no way across...

The ragged walls surround me, walls of pride, walls of indifference, walls of self-sufficiency and “I-am-good-enough.” How much more-- how much more do I need to “give up”? Haven’t I done enough, put my 10% into the plate of offering? I don’t do “bad things”, I don’t curse, I don’t steal, I don’t murder, I don’t smoke. I wear modest clothing. I don’t watch TV. Is there more? I am empty . . . Is there more? And how do I experience the presence of the Most Holy in my day-to-day life? Is the Bible alive, the presence of the Father a burning bush to my soul, or is it a dead, dry leaf, dusty and unremembered, placed neatly on a shelf next to all of my Christian fiction-or, better still-Taste of Home magazines...? 

Is there more? Is there joy? Joy unspeakable and full of glory? 

I shake my soul and ask, ask honestly, fire hard questions there—I give my 10%, but do I meet a brother or sister’s urgent need when it costs me something, when it digs deep into my comfort? I don’t let 4-letter-words-- maybe then people would not think so well of me-- spring out of my lips, but do I secretly resent the things that happen to me--biting down hard on His Father-will, so hard that it draws blood? I don’t take what is not physically mine, but do I withhold good when it is due? 

The blood rises up, into my ears, and I feel uncomfortable; I clear my throat . . . I don’t murder, Lord! But how many times, just this week, have I held spiteful anger in my heart towards a brother or sister? The outward things—so easy for me to be proud of abstaining from-- smoking (maybe just because it’s not in style anymore?) and my neat denim jumpers (Oh Lord, bless me for I am not like other women . . .!). 

Ever the motive, ever the heart . . . the heart is deceitful, above all things . . . I feel the desperate wickedness and I close my eyes . . . No TV, Lord . . . but how many hours do I waste on other forms of media—how many worthless hours on my computer, on my Ipod, on my cell-phone? The heart, the motive . . . and ever Jesus’ eyes piercing, touching the places that are dark with uncomfortable, revealing-holy light. The hours that I spend, that I waste—how much time do I spend in His Word, in His presence through prayer, in pressing into memory the words of His Book?

Joy, joy, seeking joy-seeking a connection, a way across---Jesus----His hand touches mine. I eat the bread and drink the cup of His Presence. Reality to me, a daughter of grace. And His eyes search mine and speak to my shortcomings, my failing, forgive my sins . . . 

Depth of mercy! Can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear,
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

 I my Master have denied,
I afresh have crucified,
And profaned His hallowed Name,
Put Him to an open shame.
Jesus speaks, and pleads His blood!
He disarms the wrath of God;
Now my Father's mercies move,
Justice lingers into love.

There for me the Savior stands,
Shows His wounds and spreads His hands.
God is love! I know, I feel;
Jesus weeps and loves me still.
Now incline me to repent,
Let me now my sins lament,
Now my foul revolt deplore,
Weep, believe, and sin no more.
-Charles Wesley

Friday, March 22, 2013

Close of Day

Earth scatters lonely

                            evening sky.

               Azure blue

                                     fading into black-

                               The willow tree

                bows his head

                   in quiet reverence.

      Beauty touches grace

                                      and fragile loveliness

                                                       flutters down.

                                  The grass is still

                                    and calm

    while spring-balm

                                   mists over the falling sun.

The Robin-song quiets

                 into the placid sky

       and tucks into the dancing leaves.

Earth kisses heaven-

                            Whispers of coming glory

         settle into

             waiting eyes of hope.

Monday, March 18, 2013

40 Days Without Frosting

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.”
Psalm 40:6-8

Edge of Winter’s blade and spring comes softly, quietly, like a swan in the silent dawn. Lent comes early this year. I see the fish and chip signs up and I wonder- Don’t fish and chips taste better than red meat-- is that a real sacrifice? Fish and chips and lent and sacrifices made and sacrifices forgotten and promises made and promises forsaken and Jesus-real-risen-alive. And we remember. There are places for altars of remembrance and contemplation and solitude. We remember the Sacrifice, the scent of myrrh in the dawn air moving, misting into the sky. And we are still and filled with reflection; filled with the sense, with the reality of the Sacrifice.

And I think—I don’t have to, but I think-Maybe I should do something to remember this year-and I don’t have to; it is not required, but I want to- because it helps me to remember. Sometimes I need a reminder, for my flesh is strong-and it helps me to remember---

Then I read an article on sacrificing for Lent-and I think-“But I’m not Catholic!” Does it matter? And I think; but I am His-and He is mine-and I want to remember-to press the once-broken-it-is-finished-Sacrifice to my heart. Sometimes the offering helps me to remember; I am human and forgetful.

So I think-what is important to me? Perhaps I can’t give up a meal because I’m nursing my baby but I can give up something that I like—which is frosting. Frosting and cake and ice-cream and donuts and those coffee rolls at Honey-Dew that I really shouldn’t eat, but do, and peanut-butter-cups and yes, the irish-cream donut.

So I think, I don’t have to, but I want to give this up to help me to remember-how easily I forget-the Sacrifice.

Soul-still before Him, my Author and every time I do not bite into sugar these 40 days I think and I remember and I struggle not to substitute something “just-as-good,” because then it doesn’t mean anything.

So I remember, and it doesn’t make me better, just honest-that I need to remember and that giving up something that I like helps me to do this. Sometimes we need a reminder.

Every time I fast I think, “I am no better,” and the pride rises up and I pray it down-but the fasting, the giving helps me to relate-identify with One Who gave His life-blood-sacrifice for me.

So I’ll go these 40 days without frosting-but wait-there were Valentine’s Day sweets and I ate them as I said I would because we are not bound by days. But the other days-I sought to lay them aside-and it helps me to remember, helps me keep a quiet heart, draws me nearer to the Sacifice.

I’ll have frosting on Easter Day . . . and rejoice.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Birth Experience

When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart conceived
From Whom those comforts flowed.

--Joseph Addison

Two births took place in my life over the course of this past Autumn and Winter, and these births have altered my physical and spiritual being.

No one can prepare you for both the beauty and the pain of having a baby. And no one but the Holy Spirit can prepare you for some truth of the Living Word to penetrate your heart in an area that has been closed to Him before.

My little Debbie-lamb, sheep of my pasture, sheep of His, came physically from my swollen body into my carefully-organized life on November 1st, 2012. I didn’t know what to expect while I was expecting, but God did, and placed in my arms a warm, wet slippery person before it even registered that the agony of pushing and pain had quieted. My body tore. Through three layers of tissue. Maybe the doctor should have given me an epistiomy, but she didn’t, and the baby’s heart rate was slowing, and so she came.

I wouldn’t ask for it to have happened differently, maybe because I believe that the Lord orders all things, maybe because of the heart-softening lessons that came. At any rate, it happened as it did.

I remember the night in the hospital, the long, sleepless night. I remember the helplessness and the searing pain in the morning, and the nurses helping, and the humbling. I remember how it felt not to be able to pull myself out of the bed to pick up my crying baby. It was too much for me, me with the working arms and the organized, picky nature.

So I cried. And my body ached and the nurses packed me with ice and my Mama comforted in her usual “God will work it out” way.

And I went home and the healing of weeks and then months eventually came, but in that time, the Lord spoke. Through His Word, through His Spirit to my heart, and I was forced through my own physical limitations, to slow down and listen.

I remember holding my baby in the sunlight in my room, the warm heater chasing away the chill and spilling coziness. A baby pressed to my wounded body, I could not busy myself with “doing.” I had to be still and listen, to sing hymns in the quietness of the small place, and thank the Lord for His Father-grace, for His chesed-His lovingkindness. And gratitude spilled out of my heart, gratitude that merely knowing the right theology cannot manufacture. It was His grace. To me, undeserving, to me, the self-sufficient one.

And I began to hear voices around me, voices of sisters and husband and friend and mother and neighbor, and to realize that I was not the only one, my only concern. So He taught me. So He teaches me still, through pain to be sensitive towards those beside me with flesh and feelings and bone.

Another lesson came. Someone asked me what I thought of the writer Ann Voskamp. I had heard her name but never read anything of hers. So I googled her name and found controversy. She was accused of being a mystic, a panentheist, a heretic. I looked at her facebook page and wasn’t convinced one way or the other. So I decided to read her book, One Thousand Gifts.

I have never been so moved or challenged by a modern writer. Mystical; yes, if you call it that, but sound, careful doctrine beautifully dressed in poetical language and sensitivity.

I began to read the book in a quest to challenge her theological accuracy. I came away questioning the authenticity of my own heart, and the extent to which I live out the Word in my own life. Because it is a living Word; He is the living Word, and He dwells within me, His temple, transforming me, enlarging my heart to the extent that I yield to Him. Not merely know about Him, but know Him, in spirit and in truth.

Something had become lost to me through the busy-ness of life, the quiet joy of yielding and listening and waiting upon God. Something of anxiety and fear and of worrying about tomorrow had wreaked havoc on my soul, and I realized that I missed the simplicity of living by faith alone, trusting in the promises, yielding to Him.

And so the Lord shook me, quieted me, turned my eyes to the cross and then handed me a book that opened my hungry soul to the loveliness of Jesus Christ, revealed through creation, manifested in His beloved people.

And I thank Him, Him alone:

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." (Luke 10:21).

Two births, a sweet baby to me, and another, the fresh birth of a childlike heart . . . for so it pleased Him.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Reflection: A Poem

I wrote this when a beloved brother-friend came to salvation in Jesus and in whose life the Son of Light made all things new ...

The beauty of his amber eyes-

         His face

     Alive in light

The Son of Glory rising in the East


The mortal clouds—

      The moon

          Now humbly creeps away

                 The day

In every touch and whisper


  Into the open sky-

His eyes

   Like amber

            So alive

The sparks of truth and grace

               Proceed forth from the Son

      The living, breathing One

Who steps into a life and makes it new

    The hammer

             That had fallen hard

                   Upon His hands

                His feet—

The hammer

     That had caused Him pain

             And anguish

          Is no more

And life restored

     Lifts up her hands in victory


   Free am I—

        Through Him

The Man

     The Son of Man, of God,

          The Glory of the Father

Who is the Risen Light

       So bright

     And we are a reflection of that grace-

They see it,

      Do they see it

            In our amber eyes



             And full of grace and glory---

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why Did I Begin This Blog?

Who knew that when I became a mother there would be so little time? So little time and yet so much—scraps and smidgens and traces of time—napping times and feeding times and weekend times and times when she falls asleep on my lap and I must be still and middle of the night times when I just can’t fall back to sleep.

So little time and so much and thoughts racing, racing through my head and blood pumping through my heart, a heart that has begun to skip beats under the stresses and strains of this new and beautiful and fearsome thing called motherhood.

So thoughts racing through my head and feelings and convictions and I want to write and convey the ideas and the offerings of hope that I’ve gained through suffering and struggling and trying and failing and trying and taking strength from One who is greater than I am and who breathes His strength through my weakness and prays for me when I cannot find the words with “groans too deep for words.”

He is enough, His strength is enough, His grace is enough, and if these things were not true, if Jesus were not enough then life would not be worth living and this blog would not be worth writing and I would probably be in a different place—fulfilling my once-dream of becoming—becoming an English professor, or singing professionally, things that I once thought gain to me.

Yet now I have learned, through suffering, through submission, through listening, that my becoming is not in myself, but in Him, in becoming who He wants me to be, in doing that which He has called me to do, in fulfilling the ministry that He has placed upon my life-conscience, to spend and to be spent not for myself, but for Him. And in seeking Him first, ultimate fulfillment comes. And I can live and breathe and walk without fear in this frightening world, being light in the ever-increasing darkness. For as George MacDonald says in his work Lilith, “It is always darkest before the dawn,” the dawn of the new creation, of a new heavens and a new earth, in which glory dwells.

Martin Luther, that savory old Reformer, so man-earthy and so heavenly-minded once wrote, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and he was right. The pen sets the sword to play, or the pen quiets it.

I want my “pen” to speak truth, not just to pour forth my own drivel-rantings. Then it would not be worth it to write. But I want to write and I want to write truth, and to edify. I pray that this blog may be edifying to one or to many. It is my creative project, my painting, my thought-prayer-release.

The name of the blog is “inspired” by a Lillias Trotter writing on submission to the Lord Jesus in every area of life, that the body may become a willing vessel to serve Him in this swift-fading world. She gleans her idea from the words of Paul where he confides to His readers and pours onto paper for the church just before His imminent death: “"For I am now ready to be offered.” II Timothy 4:6.

It will probably cover many topics, from motherhood to marriage, to the Christ-life, to my sorrows and my standings and my fallings and my joys. You may not agree with everything I write—good! As Ruth Graham says, “Where two people always agree, one is unnecessary.” Disagree, disagree prayerfully, disagree based on your own conviction from the Word of God. But let us both grow nearer to the God of the Word, who never changes and whose Word is truth, Who is the Word. There are many sides of the mountain, as my “unorthodox,” and yet so truly orthodox sister likes to say, but one mountain; remain faithful to Him and follow the convictions that He places upon your heart through the Word, in prayerfully seeking Him. May we both grow together in grace and may this blog, these writings, glorify the God-Man, to Whom one day, every knee will bow and all mysteries be revealed.

For we are to live our lives in such a way that our heart speaks back to the Savior who lived it first: “Now I am ready to be offered . . .” For isn’t this whole life a preparation for the next, a daily learning submission and readiness to be offered unto Him in every place of every day, whether consciously or subconsciously? May He teach us and chisel us and soften us and shape us, as our hearts cry out for readiness, to be offered unto Him.