Monday, February 27, 2012

Redeeming Time

Tonight my children were finishing dinner, but I was already done.
It meant I had to wait.
I could start those dishes, though.
Maybe I could finish before they were done.
I began thinking about that phrase 'redeeming the time'.
It's always been a little poetic sounding to me.
Sort of mysterious.
How do I do it?

Is it simply using the dead spaces to get something worthwhile done?
While I am waiting for them to finish chewing, washing a plate or two?
When I had a slower internet connection,
I spent a lot of time waiting for pages to load.
So I kept my knitting or a book with me.
I could knit one sock needle's worth of stitches minimum
at every slow loading page.
You can get a lot of sock knitting done twelve stitches at a time.
Sometimes I left it on the front seat of my car,
and when I got stuck at the State Street light (the longest one in town),
I enjoyed every waiting second of it.
I found myself looking forward to waiting.
Waiting for the doctor to call me in to see him?
Being a passenger in a car trip to North Carolina?
I can knit a whole sock there, and a whole sock back.
It's meditative.

Is it as simple as that, Lord?
Occupying until You come?
Doing good with hands that have nothing to do for a bit?
In a worthless time, do something worthy.
My Grandma could not sit down to visit or watch a movie with us
without gathering her crocheting first, so her hands were busy.
You might as well do somethin' while you're doin' nothin'.

Must you spend a half hour scrubbing dishes?
Put a missionary's card up where you'll see it,
and you can pray for them while you work.
Two minutes brushing your teeth day and night?
A scripture to meditate on taped to the mirror redeems time.
My sister always puts a teaching on to listen to as she prepares dinner.
Are you often trapped in a chair, nursing a baby?
Maybe you can read three sentences of the scripture
which you've been struggling to fit in.
If not, feeding His lambs is redemptive in itself, anyway.

Is this a season of grief for you?
Someone else is grieving, too.
Who will pray with more empathy than you will for them?

Working Myself Out of a Job

Do not fear: this was not the unsupervised chopper.
A split pea soup from yesterday's ham
with carrots peeled by my eager son,
and chopped with celery without supervision,
and joyously stirred into the soup.
Onions chopped in 2.5 seconds in the food processor,
without leaving their scent all over my hands.
Sourdough rolls are baking.
They set the table, and stirred the soup,
and cleared out the dish drainer,
and we're headed toward domestic bliss.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Into the Ultraviolet

What you see is what you get.
Seeing is believing.
Is it?

I have been reading a book called
The Mysteries and Marvels of Science with my children.
Today we read about light and color:

"Some animals can see colors that can't be seen by humans. 
Many insects, birds, fish and reptiles 
can see beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum, into the ultraviolet. 
Many fruits that look dark to us, such as plums, 
look bright and inviting in UV, 
so birds and insects are attracted to them 
among the much darker looking leaves."

This was accompanied by two photographs,
one of solid yellow silverweed flowers with no patterns or markings,
as the flower is perceived by the human eye,
and the other of the exact same flowers
photographed with a UV lens,
which revealed it to have vivid red center patterns
with brilliant blue marks amid a white edging.
You can watch a short video about the UV vision of bees here.

So, which view is reality?
I read this little blip and stared at these photographs,
and thought about things I can't see.
My spectrum is too short to see glory.
I see boring blah when I am looking right at brilliance.
I see coming doom when I should see chariots of fire.
I see people's failures when God sees their faith.
Is this why He tells me I must walk by faith, and not by sight?

Is this why He is Judge, and not myself?
"My friends, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, 
you must never treat people in different ways 
according to their outward appearance."
Perhaps the dull daisy growing with the grass is more colorful
than the roses showcased under the arbor.
"When the LORD spoke to you from the fire on Mount Sinai, 
you did not see any form. 
For your own good, then, 
make certain that you do not sin 
by making for yourselves an idol in any form at all---
whether man or woman, animal or bird, reptile or fish."

"No man hath seen God at any time; 
the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, 
He hath declared Him."

'Jesus answered, "For a long time I have been with you all; 
yet you do not know me, Philip? 
Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. 
Why, then, do you say, 'Show us the Father'?"'

He is the lens through which I see the Unseen --
because my eyes can't see past violet.
He is my vision, my translation, my Light.

Monday, February 13, 2012

And Hurting the Heart

Last night, shortly after dinner, our youngest ran screaming to us.
He said he had hit his head, and I tried to calm him down enough
to figure out what was wrong with him.
His screaming seemed a little out of proportion to a bumped head.
I felt around on his head and my hand came away bloody.
Parting his hair (which is far too long), I finally saw the gash.
"Get off the phone!" I called to my husband,
"We need to take him in for a few stitches."
We cleaned it up a little to get a good look,
held a bandage to his head,
and struggled through getting everyone into coats and shoes.
He came home with two staples in his head.

Tonight I was reading 1 John 1 to my kids before bed.
If, then, we say that we have fellowship with him, 
yet at the same time live in the darkness, 
we are lying both in our words and in our actions. 
But if we live in the light---just as he is in the light---
then we have fellowship with one another, 
and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.
If we say that we have no sin, 

we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us.
But if we confess our sins to God, 

he will keep his promise and do what is right: 
he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make a liar out of God, 

and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:6-10

I noticed one of my children's eyes were very wide,
and there was a quivering chin.
"What, honey? Did you want to say something?"
A nod.
"I was running... I mean, I was chasing...
and Silas was trying to get away from me...
and that's why he hurt his head."
The tears came then.
I held the offender, who was eaten up with guilt.
"Do you want to pray?"
Another nod.
"I'm sorry!"
"Listen, I forgive you. Jesus forgives you. Silas, do you forgive?" I said.
He came over and hugged his crying sibling fiercely,
kissing cheeks and laughing.

Whether you view the childishness that resulted in injury to someone else
as a sin, or simply an accident,
there is no doubt that confession was good for the soul.
This child was carrying around a burden of condemnation.
It was damaging fellowship, and hurting the heart.

If our conscience condemns us, 
we know that God is greater than our conscience 
and that he knows everything. 
And so, my dear friends, if our conscience does not condemn us, 
we have courage in God's presence. 
1 John 3:20-21

The child thought it was sin, and so it was sin.
Confession brought courage.
And reassured love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another Stone Soup

My mother always calls mish-mash unplanned meals 'stone soup'.
This one elicited several spontaneous 'I love yous',
and even a 'you're beautiful, Mom!'
Even the two picky ones asked for thirds.
The one who proclaimed my beauty two bites in also told me,
"You need to put this one on the computer."

I need to go to the grocery store,
and have been putting it off all week.
So our supplies were limited.
Making note of a few things we did have, (also the many we didn't),
I turned to my basic corn chowder recipe and didn't follow it.

In a pot:
one cube of butter,
six-eight cubed potatoes,
the end of a bag of frozen broccoli,
one diced onion,
about a cup of garlicky hummus (made with balsamic vinegar in place of lemon juice, and no tahini),
four chicken bouillon cubes,
some shakes of pepper,
two cups of water.

Bring it to boiling, and simmer until the potatoes and broccoli are soft enough.
Smash it all a little.

In a large bowl whisk:
four cups of milk,
3-4 TBSP flour,
1 tsp tumeric powder (for its incredible golden color and anti-inflammatory properties)

When it is all cooked, ladle the hot soup into the milk bowl, stir, and return to pot.
Bring it up to a good temperature, simmer for a few minutes,
and serve it with a sprinkle of cheddar.
You can thank me later.

Now Abide

suffers long
and is kind;

does not envy;

does not parade itself,
is not puffed up;

does not behave rudely,
does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
thinks no evil;

does not rejoice in iniquity,
but rejoices in the truth;

bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never fails.

But whether there are prophecies,
they will fail;

whether there are tongues,
they will cease;

whether there is knowledge,
it will vanish away...

And now abide faith,
these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

Pursue love...

It is one of the most read chapters in the Bible, 
even by those who do not revere the Bible.

It separates love from knowledge, 
from prophetic utterance, 
from the words of men and of angels,
from the understanding of mysteries,
from great faith,
from generous giving,
and intentional martyrdom.

It strikes me that the first thing it says 
in its description of love is that it suffers long.
This isn't a Disneyland love story:
it isn't syrupy at all.

...and is kind.
It suffers long and is kind.
That alone would seem to disqualify this passage 
from describing a human relationship.
I know some loving people -- who get provoked.

It bears all things?
All things.
There is nothing it doesn't bear?

Hopes all things?
I am a perpetual foreseer of doom.
You're going to break that. 
You're going to trip over that.
You will definitely screw up.
Disaster is around the bend.
I can't comprehend hoping all things.
I would be better described as
despairing of all things.

Endures all things.
Again, with the impossible.
Love never fails.

When I stopped seeing this passage 
as a list of attributes I hadn't gained,
I started seeing Him.

God is love.
We know love by Him.
He suffers long, and is kind...
He bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
He never fails.

He continues to intercede on my behalf, 
because He continues to hope for me.
He thinks no evil of me.
Is not provoked by me.
He loved us first.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What Do I Know of Holy?

What do I know of holy?
Of Unapproachable Light?
I, who lived in the darkness;
I, who was born in the night.
What do I know of Dayspring?
Of Sacrifice-for-a-cause?
I, who give love in tenths;
I, the breaker of Laws.
You, the Lover of ugly;
You, who sanctify ground;
You, Creator from nothing:
In You, my holy is found.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Several weeks ago I read this:

"Research has shown that every happy, successful couple 
has approximately ten areas of 'incompatibility' 
or disagreement that they will never resolve. 
Instead the successful couples learn 
how to manage the disagreements and live life around them -- 
to love in spite of their areas of difference..."

Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, 
a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, 
meekness, longsuffering; 
 forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, 
if any man have a complaint against any; 
even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: 
and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. 
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, 
to the which also ye were called in one body; 
and be ye thankful.  
Colossians 3:12-15