Monday, April 28, 2014

To Breathe Quietly

We drove up into the mountains to explore around a lake today,
and to throw some fishing lines in and get the kids some casting practice.
To soak the sunlight into our skin
and watch the birds fly
with their wingtips just touching the surface of the water,
and the ducks thrashing around together wildly,
and to hear the water sloshing softly at our feet.
It's important, I think, for human beings to learn to breathe quietly,
and to listen to natural sounds.
It often gives me a chance to notice things.

It's wetter than here.
I showed my son the moss growing on the north side of the trees,
and handed my daughter a stick with lichen on it
I could only describe as radioactive green.
A bumble bee flew into our fishing net,
and I picked it up to take a closer look.
The trees are taller here than my kids are accustomed to.
I watched them rub their hands over the bark the same way I used to,
and I pointed out how big and prickly the pine needles are
compared to the soft White Pine needles they are familiar with.

To the eye, this yellowish stuff is far greener than it appears here
As we drove through the forest,
my eyes were repeatedly drawn to the vivid green
that some of the trees sported.
Greener than anything else I saw.
And yet, looking a little closer,
it was all the dead branches that looked so alive,
coated as they were in death-eating moss.
The living branches weren't so showy.
They were duller, but they were alive and fruitful.
Those verdant showpieces were unstable, brittle, and fruitless.
Something to ponder.

The forest of the future
And then there were the empty spaces.
Except they weren't.
Because what was growing in them was the forest of the future.
It wasn't so noticeable today, but in a few years,
you won't be able to see the forest for the trees.
Those trees have taken root already.
They're healthy, and they're growing.
They're alive, and in due season will bear fruit.

Now You Offer It To Me

That thing that made you weep and sent you reeling,
and the thing that hurt too much to bear alone,
that pushed you to seek comfort 
and to beg for company --
it resulted in a hand reached out to steady,
and a drink that when you swallowed quenched your thirst.
And the words your sister told you let the light in,
and the light was just enough so you could see.
You're still standing in the comfort, like a blanket,
warmed enough that now you offer it to me.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort;
who comforteth us in all our affliction,
that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction,
through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound unto us,
even so our comfort also aboundeth through Christ."
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

"For even when we were come into Macedonia our flesh had no relief,
but we were afflicted on every side;
without were fightings, within were fears.
Nevertheless he that comforteth the lowly, even God,
comforted us by the coming of Titus;
and not by his coming only,
but also by the comfort wherewith he was comforted in you,
while he told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me;
so that I rejoiced yet more."
2 Corinthians 7:5-7

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Soul Sisters

"I had a bad dream last night," she told me.
When she told me what it was, I agreed.
It was a very bad dream.
I asked her to read Psalm 91:1 to me --
a verse that has chased away nightmares in my life.
I suggested she learn it and keep it in her heart.
And she told me that she had awakened her sister in the night,
and that her big sister had prayed with her,
and let her fall asleep in her bed with her.
Oh, how good and pleasant it is when sisters dwell together in unity.
I am so blessed to have my daughters ministering to each others' needs.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Come Together Again

Every successful marriage
has had thousands of choices to come together again.
To be joined.
To come home to her every night,
and to say yes to his advances.
To try again, even if she gave you the cold shoulder.

It isn't the vows that bring the intimacy --
those only begin the marriage.
We speak words of love to one another,
but they must be said again.
And we must choose to yield ourselves to one another.

We long to commune, to lessen our loneliness, to be joined in community.
Paul advised that each man should have his own wife,
and each woman her own husband,
because of sexual immorality.
"Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, 
and likewise also the wife to her husband."
This is apostolic marriage counseling.
That we would have a spouse, and give ourselves to them.

"Do not deprive one another 
except with consent for a time, 
that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; 
and come together again 
so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 
So much about this passage is so practical.
Have sexual intercourse with your spouse.
This is one very specific way we can serve their spiritual needs.

The intercourse of marriage--
sexual, emotional, financial, spiritual--
is a mysterious display of Christ and the church.
That abiding in the vine that Jesus spoke of is a plant life display.
They are both about connection, unity, exchange--
intercourse resulting in fruit.
In human intercourse, it is a choice that presents itself again and again.
We Christians are presented again and again
with the option to interact with Him intimately, or to shut Him out.
If we want to bear His fruit,
if we want our union with Him to be successful,
we must yield.

Perhaps you have said 'no', and it has become a habit to say 'no'.
I'm too tired.
I have a headache.
We've grown too far apart.
I've washed my feet; how can I defile them again?
Seek Him again, because His heart is still for you.

Or perhaps it is worse than just not opening up when He came to you.
Maybe you called Him 'master', and lived in His house,
but never saw Him as your husband.
Maybe you have never been close,
and all your children have been someone else's.
And He is broken-hearted over your infidelity,
but you are hard-hearted.
Make a choice to be His for real.
He'll buy you back from the auction block of your whoring shame,
and call you His own,
and let you bear His children.

I will heal their backsliding, and love them freely,
 for My anger has turned away... 
I will be like the dew to Israel; 
He shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon...
Those who dwell under His shadow shall return; 
they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. 
Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

And you will find yourself saying,
"What have I to do anymore with idols? 
I have heard and observed him. 
I am like a green cypress. 
Your fruit is found in me."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

In Mismatched Socks

Thinking about my Mama this morning.
I'm thankful to have a real mom.
Not a plastic Christian mom,
but a real flesh-and-blood one --
who I saw fearful, and praying,
and perplexed, and encouraged.
A mom who could apologize,
because she didn't think she was always right
just because she was the mom.
Sometimes I think that was worth more
than doing everything perfectly the first time.
A woman who said she used to pray,
"Is it possible to be pregnant and in the Spirit at the same time?"

She let me dye a pink streak in my hair,
and when her friends questioned the wildness of it,
she said, "You dye your hair. What is the difference?"
She did not expect us to look like catalog kids.
And she let me go out in mismatched socks.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Food for the Hungry

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High 
shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I read it in my news feed this morning, shared by a friend.
It's one of those verses that marked a turning point in my life.
I remember the night I read it so many years ago.
I woke up from a nightmare that night, and it came to my rescue.
The Word came in, and the fear went out.
I said it, and the darkness fled.

I have asthma.
Some seasons the asthma is worse,
and I use an inhaler to release the squeezing of my lungs.
Reading that verse this morning felt like Albuterol to my spirit.
I breathed it in, and the squeezing released.
Oh, I love His Word.
Medicine to my soul, food for the hungry.

Thank You, Father, for the balm that You give us,
for the remedy to our spiritual ailments.
Thank You for the water You give to the thirsty,
for the growth that You bring when we take You in.