Wednesday, December 29, 2004

poems.

today was a day of complete and total brokenness. it was a good day. a real day and i felt the breath of God again.

ruth 3

trembling moabitess
not of your clan
or country
sustained by
your goodness
feasted on
your favor
i know not
whereof i ask
or why
obedience
alone
bid me
take my
place
at your feet
cover me
with your
cloak
that i may
rest in safety
and rejoice
once again.



untitled

unable to stem
the tide
i weep these
many prayers
for you
sometimes
my brokenness
o'er runs
its bounds
the flood waters
rise
the incense burns
these many prayers
are gathered
up
until they are
no more




untitled

where is my bedouin
to lead me
out of this
wilderness
where is the one
who can read
the sands
where is the finder
of deep flowing
waters
where is my bedouin
where am i?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

excellent mediocrity

i am finishing up brennan manning's wisdom of tenderness. it is phenomenal. copied six pages of notes from the INTRODUCTION. sigh.

he writes me this:
It's more important to be a mature Christian than to be a great butcher or baker or candlestick maker [or poet, i assume]; and if the only chance to achieve the first is to fail at the second, the failure will have proved worthwhile. Isn't failure worthwhile if it teaches us to be gentle with the failures of others, to be patient, to live in the wisdom of accepted tenderness, and to pass that tenderness on to others? If we're always successful, we may get so wrapped up in our own victories that we're insensitive to the anguish of others; we may fail to understand (or even try to understand) the human heart; we may think of success as our due. Then later, if our little world collapses through death or disaster, we have no inner resources. It's helpful to remember the value of Jesus' suffering lies not in the pain itself (for in itself pain has no value), but in the love that inspired it.


i am a fraud. a phony. my excellence is dull and pale. my attributes are smoke and mirrors. would to God i could just find Him in this season. find His feet that i may lay my head down upon them and weep with all my might. that i may kiss them and then, i know He will reach down and lift me up. yes, He will lift me up.

i wrote this earlier about the place i find myself in:
life is much the same here. we trudge on, trying to keep our chins up. i try not to think about it all. it is simply too inexplicable and too difficult. meanwhile, i try to do my best to minster to my family but find i have little to give. i am poor, blind, and weak. any illusion i had of being strong and rich and having words of life have long since vanished and i am left with nothing but God and the cold, hard truth. i can't say i'd have it any other way though, strangely enough. God is sufficient. even in my lack of everything i think i want He is beauty, fullness and peace. i am content. i do not wish to remain here any longer than i have to, but trust God to do what He will and trust that it will be for the good.

i am blind and do not see God's purposes in anything around me. i cannot fathom what He is up to and He has not seen fit to inform me. so in utter ignorance i sit and wait for my redemption. i stand and wait for my salvation. i know it is coming, yes, i know it is coming.

but it is late and i am tired.

alas, i hope.

i am fool
enough to believe
you mean what you say
and say what you mean
i am fool
enough to believe
nothing ventured
nothing gained
i am fool
enough to believe
behind the fame
we are all the same
i am fool
enough to believe
the church will not
shirk her duty forever
i am fool
enough to believe
a pastor is a shepherd
and his voice leads to safety
i am fool
enough to believe
a woman's worth
cannot be measured
i am fool
enough to believe
a man's strength
comes from God
i am fool
enough to believe
the Bible is not
only for scholars
i am fool
enough to believe
a widow still has a place
near the heart of God
i am fool
enough to believe
the orphan is Christ
incarnate
i am fool
enough to believe
all is not lost
or squandered
i am fool
enough to believe


Friday, December 24, 2004

the grinch returns!

last year i was so upset after christmas, so fed up with my own ungrateful heart that i proclaimed a revolution.

one friend said, that is so violent.

yes, i said and smiled, i wanted to throw down anything that got between me and God. to find Him. to go higher.

i can honestly say i don't know if i've gone higher. for all my brave words and talk of revolution, i do not know if i have ascended one mole hill above where i was last year.

i have a few friends who can tell me. but they will be gracious and i will say thank you and wonder.

my mom and sister will tell me. but they too will be gracious and i will say thanks. and still wonder.

this is not about not receiveing compliments, this is about wanting some tangible, undeniable proof that i have come up higher. that i have come to know the heart of God better. do i? really?

can you ever know if you've got a better handle on the inscrutable God, the unsearchable One, the Sovereign King. or is it when you've lost the ability to handle Him, which, admittedly, this year i have done. i've turned Him loose and watched Him run.

He is shadowfax who has ever and always been my ally and carried me through many dangers. His running is poetry. it is right.

this year, until two days ago when my mom sent us a package of gifts there was only two things under the tree, a candle my daughter made for me at girl scouts and a small package sent by my dear missionary friends.

i am asking myself, why is this bothering me? this is right. christmas isn't about gifts and presents. it isn't about shopping. although everyone everywhere seems to think so. i turned on the weather channel to get the weather report and twice within the first thirty seconds on that channel, they asked about or mentioned christmas shopping.

christmas is a marketing conspiracy and i don't know how to get around that. our whole culture is steeped in it. and i can't find Jesus in any of it. the kids did a nice little play and sang songs about Jesus' birth, but the weeks of preparation were frustrating and i dreaded going to deal with "those kids." i was relieved when it was over (how Christlike of me).

last year i decided if i never celebrated christmas again, i would be happy. but my seven year old decorated this year, and i sit in the glowing, flashing lights wondering, what the heck does this have to do with the birth of Christ Jesus my beloved Saviour? what?

i can't figure it out. i can't find Jesus in it all and it breaks my heart. the fact that i felt better when there was more than two things under our tree breaks my heart. i've come to understand my frame is but dust this year. i've come to understand my humanity. but it doesn't make it any easier.

and why are christians so opposed to saying happy holidays? to me, i would say: happy holYdays. these are supposed to be holy days, aren't they? i think that would mean more to me than merry christmas ever did.

have holy days friends, consider Jesus. tell me how to find Him again, i feel trapped in a season that is a marketing consipracy and i don't want to play anymore. i just want Jesus. i just want to go higher.

may you find Him as well.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

theology vs. relationship

this is an idea that wanted to be written. a thought i had one day. as with all my other stuff, this is a first draft, largely unedited, i just find misspellings basically and move on. i have been told to submit it here or there, but i just don't care to. so enjoy!


Having worked under seminary trained pastors, and anointed pastors who are not necessarily scholars, (see C. Peter Wagner’s Changing Church for further information on these distinctions), and having attended churches of both types of pastors, I am of the opinion that right relationship will right wrong theology, however, right theology will not necessarily right wrong relationship.

Pastors and laymen alike, who have their relationship with Jesus as the impetus of their lives will, by virtue of that relationship, have their theological errors set aright. As we draw nearer to God, and the Holy Spirit leads us into “all truth” (Jn 16:13) wrong theology falls away. However, those who hang their hopes on their seminary degrees or defendable theological positions do not necessarily reap the benefits of right relationship with the Lord.

At churches and in books, there is a great emphasis on teaching or righting theology. What I see lacking is the intimate relational time spent with the Lord, demonstrated for me to emulate. Great divisions in the church are the result, I believe, of this focus on theology. If the body of Christ behaved like a body, was in true relationship with one another across denominational lines, then our theological differences would pale in comparison to our love for one another. Our relationships would overshadow our theological differences.

How many times has your theological position been changed by being confronted and challenged? How many times has the Lord revealed His will to you by having you serve, love, and humble yourself for your brother? I find the latter the most prevalent way the Lord deals with me. I believe Mary of Bethany would say the same.

Mary of Bethany sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to His words, because she loved Him. She was captivated by His love for her. Jesus never rebukes Mary for any of her theological positions. He simply loves Her and defends her, when she lavishes Him with her love (Jn 12:13). Mary seems to me a type of the servants and children we are to be. When Lazarus died, Mary fell to Jesus’ feet (Jn 11:32) where she was comfortable. She is a portrait of how every believer’s relationship with the Lord must come before all else.

Zaccheus was another sinner, tax collector, with whom Jesus shared dinner and relationship (Lk 19:3). What was the result of this relationship? Zaccheus repented, made fourfold restitution, and gave half his goods to the poor. Jesus was not about mingling with the scholars, with those who knew every jot and tiddle of His Word; He wanted relationship with the broken (Lk 5:31).

The scholars of the day, Scribes and Pharisees, were so well versed in the law, so pure in practice, that they would not eat at the homes of non-Pharisees, for they could not be assured some transgression in ritual preparation had not been committed (Mt 23:25). What is Jesus’ response to this lavish adherence to tradition and law? He called them “whited sepulchres,” “serpents,” “generation of vipers,” and asked, “how can you escape the damnation of hell?” (Mt 23:27, 33). Clearly, if theological knowledge alone were the way to the heart of God, Jesus would have mentioned it (or at least commended them for it).

What is the way to the heart of God? Right theology has been hailed as the way, but I believe the answer lies in relationship. Right relating to the Lord. Right relating to each other. When the Lover of our Souls came to earth, He did not only come to preach and exegete scripture. The vast majority of His dealings were the stuff of relationship: weeping for Lazarus, feeding multitudes, holding little children, and healing infirmities. Miraculous acts indeed, but moreso because in each instance the Pharisees were off studying, while God in flesh was relating.

Please do not hear that right theology has no value. Indeed it does. I shudder at the lack of basic Bible knowledge in the church, but know pounding theology and impressing others with my Bible knowledge is not the way to effect change. Right relating is. I am certain, that as I get down and relate to children in Sunday school, or discuss issues with other adults, or ask the pastor why he believes thus and such, through that relating, which has come only from investment of time and energies in the stuff of life, that theology is changed.

My way of changing theology is not the non-stop, surefire way, but it is, I believe, the way Jesus modeled. I have learned more from pastors and teachers who befriended and loved me enough to model their theology, to be the flesh on the bones of their theology, than from those pastors who merely exegete a few passages and throw a few Greek words at me. There is a place for the scholars, but I believe we have elevated scholars and theologians, setting them apart to such a degree we have lost ability to communicate with them.

The speech of the common man falters in a group of theologians, and only by relationship can the breach be bridged. Tim Attaway, a pastor of a Vineyard Church once said, “Get your seminary degree, then get over it.” Don’t try to impress the church with Greek, which has no bearing on our lives, but feed the hungry, dine with the unlovely, and be the shepherd of souls that will result in right relating to God and the body. Theology will then, by virtue of living example, be set aright.

Friday, December 17, 2004

poems

joshua 5:13

does
the captain
of the host
of the Lord
still make
housecalls?
when i
in trepidation
sit
contemplating
insurmountable
odds
does
the Angel
of the Lord
still arrive
and break
bread
sharing news
and fellowship
with the saints?
when i laugh
in disbelief
will He
ask me why
i doubt?
does
the righteous
King
still receive
peasants
shabbily clothed
begging bread
with no money
to repay?




untitled

i am sadly
terrestrial
land locked
comfort loving
craving
tangible
securities
i am oddly
otherworldly
heavenly bound
trial enduring
seeking
heavenly
rewards

Thursday, December 16, 2004

old age

perhaps i'm showing my age a bit here. i have one grey hair (that i know of) and i am very proud of it. my husband says, that is only because i don't have more. but i wasn't sure i'd ever make it to "old age" and praise God, i am starting to think i just might.

so as this aged woman is driving in her car yesterday listening to alternative music, i kept thinking, what kind of music would Jesus listen to? heavy metal, alternative maybe? i like it, why wouldn't He? it has always stirred my soul. granted, the messages aren't the most uplifting. as i went to sleep the other night i could hear "getting away with murder." and another song "i could be weak, i could be stupid, i could be just like you." that is quite a message. one that reminds me to test every word by the Word. and to test the spirits as well.

i just can't abide with sappy christianity, or a sappy Jesus. He was not effeminate (not that there is anything wrong with that). He was not wishy washy and so heavenly minded He was no earthly good (i'm pulling out all the cliches on this one baby!).

no! and i hate it when people tell me what they KNOW about God. i always say, then He isn't that way. but of these two things, i am wholeheartedly convinced. so i wondered as i was listening to some driving rhythms, would God like heavy metal? then i could almost see Him floating across the crowd with a big pleased grin on His face. and i thought, yes. He would. not the messages, not the sin. but the sincerity and honesty of it all.

then i could imagine a mosh pit, not the bloodied punker kind, but the ones i saw which were more civilized, and i got this image in my mind of Jesus jumping around with others, long hair flailing, a big grin, then He stops and says, who touched Me? a modern day retelling of the gospel. could you imagine? could you see it? what do YOU think God would be doing if He were here?

so i went to check the mail and i get this oversized envelope from a ministry i "support" (although i'm broke, i have an iou on my refridge for the day i can truly support them again).

i open this large envelope and wonder what it could be. i peek in and see the last name of the ministry leader on a cd. my heart sank.

yeup, the ministry leader had sent out his son's cd as a "gift" to me (and the millions on his mailing list no doubt).

call me ungrateful if you will, call me narrow minded, fine. but i suddenly saw my "support" squandered. first of all, the oversized envelope for a CD. come on, how much wasted postage was that? not to mention, the cd itself. granted he got the pappa discount, it is still a lot of money. then, i am thinking, okay, if i were a famous person and wanted to support my son, would i do it this way? i keep answering GOD I HOPE NOT!

using the ministry letterhead and funds for the wanton promotion of your child's career is just sickening to me. the letter said something about "feeling closer to God when he listens to the cd." presumably, it could be a worthy investment in my relationship with the Lord. but my problem is the ministry funding of this venture.

if this leader really wanted to promote his son, he could buy the mailing list and send out the cd with a personal note ON HIS DIME! not on the ministry's dime. that is what kills me about ministries and churches. the heads get this notion that whatever they want goes. while i am a believer in the pastor being the head of the church, if that head is making bad decisions, SOMEONE should have the guts to speak truth.

i think i may just have more to say about this. until then, enjoy your age, whatever it is. we only pass through this life once. it is all a gift, really.

(one more note: i finally read the letter that came with the "gift" it was a plea for some $500,000. i emailed the leader of this ministry with my concerns. what good is truth if no one speaks it?)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

losin' my religion

no, this is not an homage to R.E.M. keep looking if that is what you're searching for. this is about the church. in 18 days it will be a full year since i left the bureacracy of the church. the control room of the monster as i've now come to know it. the thing is, i had the bureacracy of the church mixed up with the Body of Christ in my mind before this. nothing like stepping behind the scenes to see the little man pulling the strings. he is hard to ignore.

since then, i've been attending the methodist church, which has a thread of liturgy and custom in it. coming from a place where all i've known is nondenominational churches, the liturgy and routine of it all is probably something i could embrace.

deb tells me it is nice to have liturgy and prayers to pray, words to speak for these times when words fail, when comforts cease to comfort, when friends sit weeping beside us because none of us know what to say anymore.

liturgy. yes, if i could just figure out the magic formula to the little book of prayers deb lovingly sent to me, i could find some comfort there, but i am too thick to make the liturgical leap just yet, it seems.

today in church, as we sang to keith green, i could feel my soul begin to warm and soften again. it has been frozen in the belly of the earth for quite some time now, but i feel it quickening again in moments like these.

then, the hymns started.

i love hymns, don't get me wrong. but we are worshipping (or attempting to worship) to instrumental cds. the tin-y sounds of the techno hymns saps my worshipful posture every time. i closed the book and stood there. silent as the grave, once again.

seems, i'm losin' my religion. i've lost the comforts of religiosity. the works of man that make me feel saved. now i am just hanging on God's good favor. i am just hoping in His mercy. for without it, i am lost.

i keep hoping some spiritual director, like brennan manning would appear in my life, but apparently the student is not ready. for i am still sitting silent and alone at the feet of Christ. there is no room for religion there. there is only room for devotion. only room for relationship. only room for a child to revel in the doting Father's love.

my doting Father is not answering me or comforting me as i would like him to in these moments, but then i think of when my girl needs to learn the hard lessons and i must hold my comfort, stymie my rescuing for a moment, so she will understand what she needs to understand. i cannot explain it to her and expect her to reap the same benefits, she must go it "alone" but i hover in watchful silence, waiting for the moment when i will swoop in and gather her up like so many frightened bunnies and take her away to safety.

that is where i am at. the frightened child crying out for the doting Father to come and save me. religion will not serve here. it is empty and meaningless.

they say, devotional time is the first thing to go in hard times. and i am sad proof of that. but i have seen this time as a purging of what i mistook to be God. the purging of religion, man's shaky ladder to God. man's tower of babel to ascend the heights. there is no place for God in man's religion.

so when i say i've lost the comforts of religion, i mean, the artifical working out of my own salvation. the notching of my spiritual belt and the puffing up of my spiritual self to appear "godly."

this time is not void of God however. He has shown Himself faithful to me. in my darkness, in my confusion, He whispers,
I AM still here my child. I AM still here.


as i stand weeping, washing dishes. when i kneel, praying scrubbing toilets, He gently whispers,
I AM here my child. I AM here.


what do i need of religion then? it is void of that comforting presence of God for me. it is the manufacturing of so much goodness that i am sickened at the sight of it. but i know, there will come a day when God will call me to return to His beloved church and speak life. i am much like jonah, catching the first boat out of town at that word. half digested now, i am ready to return. ready to go where He bid me go. and speak.

i don't know what is beyond this place. i cannot see.

as karen blixen writes,
God made the earth round so we would not see too far ahead.

and
this is not what i expected to happen to me now.


nor i, karen. nor i.

i am losin' my religion, and finding God.





Friday, December 10, 2004

crumbs upon the path

i may not have mentioned this before, but when i see my syntax or words i have used in life, or hear them, i stop and smile. that moment then becomes to me a crumb of bread on the path of life and i know i am headed in the right direction. expecially since my syntax is not too common from the books i've read. i have heard some prophets say, dejavu is the same deal.

hannah whitall smith's God of all comfort is an excellent read, and she used the phrase, we none of us. i used that phrase in a poem just after my grams death. it spoke to me.

yesterday as i was shelling pecans for a pie, weirdest thing about my pecan pies is my gelatinous filling sinks to the bottom and the crust rises. topsy-turvy like my life. maybe i need to prebake the crust or something.

back to my story, as i was shelling pecans i flipped on amc, they were airing: bruce lee: a warrior's journey. i like martial arts, i like sumo (japanese sumo, sumo in america is horrifying). i am fascinated with all things asian (african too).

anywhoo, i am watching and bruce lee's story goes, he opens this little dojo and ends up having three of his students win all the karate competitions in one year, each wins the grand championship, and one wins two years in a row. among the notables who were his students, you may already know this, i didn't: chuck norris and kareem abdul jabar (i would have liked kareem more had i known this, instead of walking out of his last game w/the lakers early due to boredom!).

okay, so bruce is finally experiencing success, so what does he do?

shuts down all three of his dojos and walks away, hoping his students have learned well.

that speaks to me. money was never the driving force behind bruce lee's success. conveying a message was.

makes me wonder, what message am i conveying and am i willing to modify it to make the bucks, or lose the bucks to convey the message? it is a delicate balance. one i hope these trying times helps teach me.

this week, as i completed richard foster's freedom of simplicity, i've been fond of saying, if this experience doesn't change my insatiable western appetite, nothing will.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

a couple reviews just published

an excellent, challenging book about the world we live in:

Just Leave God Out of It: The Cultural Compromises Christians Make by Tim Riter & David Timms

a devotional:

A Lamp Unto My Feet: The Bible's Light for Your Daily Walk by Elizabeth Elliot

(elisabeth elliot is one of those writers i have always loved. i never imagined i'd give her even a mediocre review. but this one borders on bad review. i had to err on the side of honesty here. my love for the writer notwithstanding).

Monday, December 06, 2004

fell into place

first a rant, then a poem.

was watching a show last night on A&E, called millionheirs. you can guess the subject matter.

carly simon and james taylor's son, i forget the guy's name, is talking about how he got into the music business. the voice overlay says, then all the pieces "fell into place" and relays the story of how carly and james invite their famous friends, to a "coming out" party of sorts for their musician son. the famous friends invite their famous friends, record executives among them. (insert eye roll here).

to make a long story short (too late), the deal falls through and the ben taylor band has to start from scratch like the rest of us (but not really, because he still has famous musicians for parents and can still produce his own music). when i stopped watching carly was talking about how her son was depressed and hating himself for about a year (mind you, he got the contract on his FIRST performance) what does this kid have to be complaining about? sure it fell through, but he got a chance of a lifetime (for us regular joes).

i am not one who evokes the f-word at will. life is simply not fair. so i turned off the tv disgusted and went to bed.

my husband worked today, praise God, first time in over a month that he's had someone pay him to labor. my seven year old and i have begun sorting through our things to part with whatever we can (again!).

the good news is, my hubby has a phone interview tomorrow morning. but we've been down this road of dashed hopes so many times before, i cannot tell you how hard it is to keep from getting excited at the prospect of a job. last time the job fell through my hopes were dashed and i didn't even get them up. so that means, they are going into deficit. i'm deficit spending in the hopes department folks. and, well, i just don't know what to say about that. here is a poem i just wrote about ten minutes ago.

there are these moments,
when i know
i am not strong
these moments when
my weakness
prevails.
there are these moments
like now
when i struggle
just to make it
through this moment
and wonder
why it matters.
there are moments
when i weep
unrestrained
moments when i sit
wordless
tearless
comfortless
wondering
wondering when
these moments
will pass.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

oops, i did it again!

brought up the race issue. a friend was troubled by this, but here is my response:

i was not saying at all anything about why anyone does not succeed. merely commenting on being a minority. the thing about it is, people say, race doesn't matter, and why bring it up. but when your see through this set of eyes, you see that it does matter.

a dear friend of mine explained her experience, of being in an all black church. she and her friend were the only whites there. she could detail most everything about the experience.

i told her, imagine living your life that way.

the thing about it is, we are so comfortable around our own that the biases and lack of diversity that seems to surround me (there are lots of minorities in texas, but they clump together and none of them clump around me...why is that?)

and i was just making an observation.

my husband and i mentioned manifest destiny, and it struck me how all the paintings were caucasian (esp. the christ figures and the madonna) and it seems any trace of a minority ethnicity has been lost. he was jewish after all. middle eastern. last middle eastern person i saw wan't snowy white.

but all this talk of skin color isn't politically correct nor comfortable is it? but look around and notice who fills your life.

no blame there. just take stock.

museum poems

i went to the museum yesterday. it was quite the anglo affair. i don't think people realize how segregated this society still is. tragically. aside from the man working the bag check at the museum, there weren't any other minoirities present. it "shouldn't" matter to me, but it does sometimes, yesterday it mattered a great deal.

my girl has an affinity for picasso. she hates looking at traditional paintings, but she can gaze at picasso as long as i'll let her. she saw nude combing hair yesterday, and i think she much preferred his cubist works, in fact she said she did.


at the art museum
the sixty-something
docent
upon a soap box
attempts to dazzle us
with his knowledge
doesn't he know
we just want to see
the art
not exercise
patience
with the geriatric
attempt at art
lecture




second poem:

stubbs and the horse
drawings all
of equine form
unimpressive
to the person
longing to see
a picasso
monet or renoir




third poem:

perfect englishman
painting
perfect thoroughbreds
in the
perfect englishside
all
perfectly boring
to
native americans



fourth poem:

aside from the chinese scrolls
buddist gods
mayan sculptures
indian tapestries
and cubist forms
the art
left me wanting.
renderings of Jesus
effeminate at best,
"i hope He looks
better than that"
i said to my seven year old
who agreed.
God is not a patsy
to be captured on canvas
in the image of man
englishman in particular
we walked away
my husband muttered
"He won't look anything like that"
i hummed Superfly
and strutted in my platforms
"He'll have a fro"
"no"
we laughed and left it
at that.


Thursday, December 02, 2004

some poems i wrote last night

breath
the most
intimate
gift
we can
exchange
life for life
those who
are close enough
to share my
breath
sleep in my arms
are those
most dear to me
the stranger
in need of
my breath
becomes a part
of me somehow
once
resuscitated
and i am home
sharing
my breath
with those
i love.




i'll always
remember
the breath of
the woman
at Hermosa
Beach City Hall
it was a sweltering
day and she
had just finished
a tuna
sandwich




the breath
of those i have
_____loved
still lingers
a faded mist
upon memories
first impassioned kiss
tangled embrace
panting for
_____relief
yes, their breath
i remember
_____still

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

not exactly happy, but the best i could do

James 5:16


I am caught up in movies
Playing in my mind
Things I dare not reveal
Yet in secrecy dwells
The enemy of my soul
So share, true confession
__________I will.

Though I tremble and
Wonder if my confession
Will sound like a
Trumpeter’s call
I must step out in
Faith to be true to the word
__________“Confess your sins
___________One to another.”

I will not fear
Enemy’s plan
Secrecy and Isolation
I will press in
To the High King’s Court
Through the pathway
__________Of confession.


Secrets

Repeat after me: I have no secrets.

There you’ve said it. Now that you’ve said it, it’s either true and your are calm as a pond on a still day. Or you’ve got a list of your secrets cycling through your brain right now. Either way, it’s a good thing. Believe me.

I have taken to saying, I have no secrets out loud, to everyone. The thing about it is, if it isn’t true, you will know about it within moments. If it is true, it is wonderful confirmation.

The thing about it is, you have no secrets, whether you know it or not. There is nothing done in secret that will not be revealed. There is One who is always watching and knows you and I better than we know ourselves. Sobering thought, isn’t it? For some it is wonderful comfort and others a grievous realization of truth.

I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, been an open person, and while it leads to some problems, it is really a nice way to be. I have proclaimed my direction and had bridges knocked out before me, but those were times of passionate youthfulness. Now, it is not so much of a blathering as it is a revealing, a sharing, showing my hand to those in my inner circle for their counsel and wisdom. It is truly a place of comfort if you can get there.

If you cannot, might I suggest, you invest yourself in being open before God. He longs to be your inner circle. He knows what is going on anyway, but being confided in is something entirely different than merely observing. God is a most excellent confidant. He doesn’t blather to those who shouldn’t know. He doesn’t judge or condemn, He is warm and compassionate and merciful. Yes, He is an excellent Counsellor.

If you take to saying, I have no secrets. Your heart will bear witness to the fact or will reveal the things you have hidden. Confess them, then say it again. I have no secrets. Try it. I have no secrets. It is a wonderful comfort to live your life in the light. I tell my girl, if you have to hide it you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Isn’t that true for grown-ups as well? Have no secrets, you’ll love it.

Monday, November 29, 2004

a spot of poetry

can't sleep. so i got up to write a bit. i write these sometimes redundant collections of poems when i write, and while i won't be posting everything i hath just writ, i will say, i notice how my ideas congeal and really take form by the last little verse. i have some thoughts to share on how i am currently butchering the sonnet form (challenged to write a sonnet by a friend of mine is proving to be a herculean task! it is too cognitive and i am too primitive cramming words into the form like some australopithecine--hey look, she can use tools, great, but a stick is hardly noteworthy).

anyway, i am tired. rambling. but here is a little ditty i just wrote (another brief aside, i will try to dredge something less "dark" out of my manuscripts to post in the coming days, for those of you who grow weary of my melancholy nature).

ii kings vi:xvii

Too long
These many prayers
Unanswered
Too close
These many foes
Undaunted
_________I cannot help
_________but tremble.


one more then i must away...


untitled


when day is over
darkness falls
all i love lie sleeping
the distractions
of the day have ceased
my mind starts
racing
heartbeat quickens
and i tremble
wondering if
You, Lover of my soul,
will be like so many
who have left me
longing
through the years
will You, like so many
leave me
promises unfulfilled
have i hung my hope
upon foolishness
or will You prove true?
no one can settle this
question
_____save You.


and this of another topic, i wrote on 21 nov 04, i forced myself to write it (if it reads stilted somehow), i've been in this poetic dryspell. where the poetry has been lacking and i just wanted to get it flowing again...here it is:

untitled


like a book
whose spine
has separated
from the binding
the many pages
held together
by my hand
the spine lay
useless
a reminder
of the many days
gone by
many years
i held you
bound
worn by affection
i hesitate to retire
one so familiar
so comforting
so broken

Saturday, November 27, 2004

trump the chump

i heard, last week or so, that donald trump's casino and some hotels have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. some 1.8 billion in debt.

last night i heard this same man giving business advice on the radio.

now wait, what is the message here?

if you have millions, it is alright not to repay your debts. not to be "good" on your notes--save the ones that are "good" for you. what the heck is wrong with this society?

i watch the apprentice and see how trump is revered and how his influence is like some great glory shining out from behind his combover. (and what's with the combover anyway? you have to have a lot of money to look really bad and still be cool, but that is me being petty now!).

if our financial situation worsens and we file for bankruptcy, you better believe they are hauling away my car, liquidating any assets, and plaguing me for at least seven years on my credit report. no one will be asking me for financial advice.

but they still do ask trump. i don't get it. i simply don't get it.

Friday, November 26, 2004

something from my manuscript...

II Samuel 9:6 ff.

I would have
_____Settled
For the crumbs
At Your feet

Beneath the table
_____Leftovers
I would have
Taken the place of a dog

Just to be near You.
Yet You set me at
Your table
_____Feast of Love

I would have begged
My bread at the
Court gate.
Yet You bid me enter

Unworthy as I am
_____You love me.
Crippled as I am
_____You love me.

Mephibosheth
Gazing on the face
_____Of the King
Feasting at His table.

What sweet mercy.
I’d have settled.
Yet You lavish Your Love
_____Upon me.


Goodness

Tuesday nights I set my large green trashcan out by our two-lane farm road. Too many trash days have I looked out the window as the trash truck was nearing and just passing with my trashcan safely tucked by the workshop. One Wednesday morning, the sun was crisp and shining after a midnight storm. I gazed out at the road to reassure myself that I had indeed put the trashcan out. But it was gone. Where did it go? I sought out my husband, Danny, to ensure he was not playing some Jedi mind-trick on me (like the man has nothing better to do).

“Honey, where’s the trashcan?”

“Look across the road.”

There she was my lovely, heavy-duty wheeled trashcan splattered across the field like road kill. Oh no! Why a trashcan’s demise would trouble me so is easier understood in the context of goodness.

Who doesn’t want to be “good”? Well thought of? Righteous? I confess, I do. But the Lord has been breaking me of the illusion of my own goodness. What a painful process that is. As a friend and I were speaking about the subject I commented, “Goodness is overrated.”

“Goodness needs to be a by product of holiness, not manufactured,” she replied.

Yes, that’s it.

The Lord has been traveling with me down a road where I am getting a glimpse of the real me. Not the sham, not the image of who I portray myself to be, but the real me. It is a horrifying experience—truly frightening. The judgments, pettiness, anger, and frustration which course through my brain at any given moment are shocking. I am embarrassed by all my repenting and confessing. I wonder if anyone could be as messed up as I am. With each new revelation, I have learned to humble myself and cry out for the Lord’s mercy, asking for a new heart, a new mind, and of course, for forgiveness. I have only been in this place for a short while, but it has been sobering—the cold turkey sober of an addict in rehab.

The sight of the trashcan was a perfect analogy for my life. My “pretty” container has been demolished. My reeking innards lay exposed for the world to see. I’m not even on the road anymore, I am strewn beside it. The sight grieved me. I couldn’t stomach the thought of gathering up all that garbage. I walked into the house—in a funk. What a mess, what do I do now? Can I just leave it? No. That’s disgusting. What a mess. Why me? Ugh.

Somewhere during the haze of that day—which spiraled rapidly down hill—I heard the Lord speak to my soul, “I love you.”

What?

“I love you.”

He loves me. I am much more aware now of who He is speaking to, of what I am capable of. His I love you, in the midst of my funk and utter disdain for myself, sounded like the first birdcall of a crisp spring morning. No, I didn’t start romping through the daisies, but I did take a moment to savour it. You love me? I thought I understood it before, but look at me, look at the mess my life has become, and You love me?
“Yes. I love you.”

Unbelievable. He loves me! In the midst of my utter worthlessness, He loves me. I keep hoping those moments of experiencing His relentless love for me will override my need to “be good.” Being good has hindered me most of my life. My righteousness is as filthy rags—or better yet, as filthy rags strewn about the highway for the neighbors to see. The more I try to manufacture goodness, the more elusive it becomes, the more imbedded in fantasy—albeit a rather grand fantasy of my inherent “goodness”—I become. I want to walk in truth. If the truth of the matter is I am a wreck on the side of the road of life, so be it. I know the Lord can resurrect the dead, heal the maimed, open the eyes of the blind. There is hope because He loves me. There is hope because He loves you.

Friday, November 19, 2004

even as we speak

i forget we are not speaking at all, but it seems that way as i write you this and you read, that we are having a tangible chat, the way so many ims have come and gone moments in time, conversations held in two dimensions. but i digress...

at this moment, two poems i wrote sit in brennan manning's bible. my beloved sister carried them to him for me today. i do not know what will come of this. good thing it is manning and not me, in whose bible they sit or they would go untouched for many, many days. but that is another story for another time.

they are in his, and he may find them and read them and i pray they would quicken in his heart as they fell from my pen and quickened mine. may the breath of God blow across his face as he reads my words. as i feel the breath of God when i read his.

who knows what will come of this. maybe nothing. but one can hope.

epic

you know, if you know anything at all about me, that i love john eldredge. his writings are right up there with brennan manning and richard foster. they are the fodder for my poetic soul. they give me hope again.

i just read epic. i was bummed--severely--when i didn't get to review it for my beloved christianbookpreviews.com and i didn't want to see a bad review, but it got one.

so i am offering my opinion, for what it's worth, take it or leave it as any of my offerings.

like a dry crust to a starving man, a drop of water to a parched soul, eldredge's epic, gave me hope again (no small feat by any means). it made me wonder why i'd given up on the story i find myself in.

i often find myself uttering the very words tolkien penned, or lucas, or any of the great storytellers. in posts you can see no small use of movies and stories, modern day fables. so this book was as familiar to me as my own journals. it was a place to slip off my shoes and recline, soaking in the all to familiar scenery.

we must be kindred spirits, eldredge and i, he is as fond of the fragment as i. it does my heart good, i even laugh a bit when i come upon them. alone, able to convey so much, yet undeveloped.

so many of the unpublishablethings about my writing i see in eldredge. although i do not claim to have his mastery in writing at all. i am but an apprentice eagerly devouring the works of a master.

truly, my heart was quickened as i read. i moved through the story elated, poetry came alive and danced in my head as i was reading.

that is the stuff of greatness to me. if an author can evoke a poem by mere prose, then that is greatness to me.

lest you think my praise too high, check it out. read it yourself. if you find my writings familiar and the stuff of your life, you will enjoy epic even more. for he is truly a masterstoryteller a weaver of stories. and i sit, laughing with delight because i am wearing my whitefeather storyteller shirt. my native design of the pueblo storyteller of mythic motifs. and i know this kindred spirit tells a truth i have hoped in my heart to be true. an epic, a saga, i can only hope to delight in. when my part comes i hope i play it well.

chronicle of a downward spiral

well folks, we've reached the end of the road. the last of our horded resources. i hope as annie johnson flint's poem says, the Father's full giving has only begun, because we are pretty well sunk.

a dear friend asked, is it really that bad?

well, when you can only find day jobs and some contracts for short periods of time, nothing only goes so far. it has gone pretty far, in my opinion.

i think of one of my favorite movies, out of africa.

karen blixen (who wrote of herself under the penname isak dinesen) was sitting watching her coffee factory go up like a sweet smelling sacrifice. walking arm in arm with a dear friend, Dee, she says, God gave me my best crop, then took it back.

what will you do? dee asks.

after my rummage sale, leave. the baronness is broke dee.

did you have insurance?

insurance is for pessimists. would you like some tea? we're just out of coffee.


at the end of the rummage sale, sitting in her empty house, listening to mozart and smoking a cigarette, she inhales deeply, as denys finch hatton walks in, her estranged lover.

have you had dinner?

yes.

a servant in white gloves walks over and pours a drink, karen pulls the gloves off his hands and he smiles.

this was not a very good idea, she says.

looking around at her empty house, through wafts of rising smoke, she says, we should have had it this way all along.

oh, i don't know. i was beginning to like your stuff. minimalist denys replies.

you know what i do when it gets real bad?

what?

i try to make it worse. would you like to help me?

yes.

i remember barkley (a deceased mutual friend), and the camp by the river (you'll have to see the movie!), ... and when i think i can't stand it any longer, i go one minute more. then i know i can stand anything. would you like to dance with me?


moral of this story: there is nothing can be done to change the way things happen. nothing i can do to alter my fate in these circumstances. all i can do is hope in God. i told renee last night, when i get scared, i say, i am scared God, but i choose to trust You. renee says she tries not to think about what might happen. i say, i know baby. i know. but think of all the adventures we'll have and all the new people we'll meet.

some part of me hopes again. if we lose this place, maybe i can finally return to school and get some married housing and finish my degrees. maybe. maybe we can roam the country for a while as curriculum salespeople for homeschool fares. that would be wonderful. selling everything and living as minimalists. what a dream indeed.

it simply requires the willingness to let go of what i know. what is familiar. what rings out to me as security. it requires me to trust in the Bible to be infallible and that Romans 8:28 is actually true. some good will come of this. i know it will. if i only, just believe.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

mercenary physicians

how can a word so closely related to mercy be void of any vestage of human kindness? i found myself wondering what has happened to mercy in our world as i sat praying over our phonebook searching for a dentist who would have mercy on us.

mercy: 1a: compassion or forbearance shown esp. to an offender or to one subject to one's power. b: imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder 2a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b:a fortunate circumstance 3: compassionate treatment of those in distress.

finally, got the bright idea to start at A and work my way through the hundreds of entries, until i found someone with an ounce of compassion in their heart.

my husband was much in need of the talents and mercy of a dentist yesterday. as i called, my voice began unbroken, but with each successive no. the brokennes crept through the phoneline, until one kind heavily accented woman of middle eastern descent spoke with me:

do you take emergencies?

yes.

how much do you charge? we don't have a job or insurance? we need to know before we get there.

she quoted a price.

can you work with us?

(little did i know she had quoted me a lesser price than usual)

when can we come in?

immediately. the doctor will be here until 2:15.

we live 45 minutes away, but we'll be there as soon as possible.

that kind doctor, masoud arami, stayed an hour past 2:15 and worked for a full hour and a half on my aching husband.

was he kind? i asked when danny returned home.

yes. he mumbled producing two prescriptions for which we had neither the money nor the insurance to cover.

i called my dear friend immediately to tell her the situation and get her advice. no answer.

i hopped in my car and began driving to town. we needed gas too, E was not a comforting sight and the twelve dollars in my pocket wouldn't cover everything we needed. but as i drove, i prayed one of my neandertal prayers, help God. help God. help God. woefully primitive, but effective (i learned that prayer from john wimber, btw).

i drove on, at the pharmacy i saw a dear friend, and said hi. he walked up beside me and stood with me at the counter as i handed the prescriptions to the guy in the white coat.

what are you doing here?

i am here to pay for your prescription.

i burst into tears that did not stop.

he told me how he'd been there. how he loved our family. his wife called and told me the same thing as i stood mid-aisle in front of the condoms (not a necessary detail, but one i vividly remember), weeping.

after filling my tank with gas, he said, we love you. let us know if you need anything. weeping i hugged him, then pulled away.

mercy.

i found mercy. it was humbling to receive their precious gift of mercy, but i was in no place to argue.

this was going to be a piece about the lack of mercy in medicine (something we really can't do without indefinately), but it is more a piece about the faithfulness of God, who is The Merciful Physician.

i told my friend that night when i got home, i had a shitty day but God is faithful. and i hope you find that to be the case in your life. whatever the circumstance, however dire, God is faithful.

Friday, November 12, 2004

fairytalechristianity

Once upon a time in the land of Christianese (a small town outside Christendom) there lived two godly parents, named Always and Faithfully Doright.

Their children, Certainly, Withoutfail, and Eagerto were well behaved, model children who had memorized 57 Bible verses each by the time they reached the age of four.

Always was a farmer, and rose before dawn to study the word of God. Faithfully, rose just before her husband, to light the cleanburning lamp in their kitchen and rekindle the wood-burning stove, before spending time with the Lord.

Always never failed to meet with God, and saw that his family never failed in that task either. Leading devotions in the predawn darkness to three bedheaded children and a submissive wife, Always completed his priestly duty with a family blessing.

Then, He would head out into the darkness to begin the morning routine. Meanwhile, Faithfully faithfully tended the children. When all were groomed and fed, they milked the cows, gathered fresh brown and green eggs, and plucked a head of cabbage, “can’t forget your roughage—even at breakfast,” Faithfully would remind little Eagerto who hated cabbage.

With the top field plowed by the light of the rising Sun, Always returned for a hearty breakfast, only after bowing his head in prayer. The children dutifully began their studies, while Faithfully spoke in soft loving tones from the shining sink where she completed the breakfast dishes. Ever the planner, Faithfully set a kettle of stew to boil on the stove for the evening meal.

Withoutfail was the clown of the family, but his jokes were never crude or inappropriate. He directed his humor at nature, mostly, asking Certainly, “What kind of garden gift do you find in a cake?” Certainly was never good at jokes, and after thinking a moment simply lifted his shoulders signifying, I don’t know. “Flour” Hahhahaa, Withoutfail certainly loved his own jokes.

Little Certainly was the baby of the family and sat there bewildered, until Eagerto spelled it out for him. Certainly smiled.

The day went on without a hitch, as the good health and grand providence of God blessed this family. High hedges of protection encircled them, and the children were trained in the way they should go. The animals of the field mutliplied, and there was plenty to share with those in need. Tears hardly fell in the Doright home, laughter rang throughout.

Without want or need of anything they counted themselves most blessed indeed. …


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

mental game

yesterday i found myself uttering, if you lose the mental game, you've lost everything. no one can help you. (no one except God that is.)

how those words sum up this wilderness experience. when i let my hand unfold and the tattered strands of hope drift like so many tiny spiders upon the winds, then i am lost. i run aground on the jagged rocks and am ruined.

my friend asked me, how can we help you?

you can't. i replied. we're beyond the reach of man.

she said, how are you?

i just am. nothing more, nothing less.

you look like Jesus to me, she said.

and i wept.

if these many trials do nothing more, than as brennan manning says, carve the signature of Jesus upon my flesh, than these many trials are welcome.

i can no longer abide the "happy ending" christianity preached by most, who don't realize that their happy endings are more for themselves to feel better than the one sitting in ashes and sackloth. there are no words for a time and place like this. there are no happy endings. (sure ultimately we go to Heaven, but nowhere in the Book do i read we all get "happy endings" here on earth. certainly stephen did not. moses, it could be argued, did not. why would i then?)

i didn't go to a bible study recently cause i couldn't abide hearing any more "promises from God." while praying prayers of faith and being more than a conquerer is what we are called to do, there is also a time for weeping, a time for sowing seed in tears. my tears have watered acres upon acres these many years, but i may not have sown my tears in full as yet. but i can hope.

i wrote a poem, if hope is a car, about my not abandoning hope. but what happens when hope abandons me? when i look everywhere but she cannot be found, or she is so gaunt and pale she is beyond recognition. what then my prayer warrior friend? what then?

i have told the Lord, no more promises, until i see some movement in the positive direction on the ones heavy in my heart. i cannot hold anymore there. i am full. i am heavy with promises, counting the minutes until delivery. don't give me anymore promises and please, stop your servants from uttering them before their words taint my ears and break my heart yet further.

i specifically asked for movement in the positive direction because i am no fool. movement in the negative direction is movement as well. but i want to see fulfillment. even and only if like simeon i spy it before i die, in its infancy. i pray i've faith enough to believe and receive the fulfillment then cross over into forever and my tears are wiped away.

no more promises.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

view from a dark place

this is something i wrote from a very dark place. a pastor friend of mine told me it was not complete because it lacked hope. i disagree. in its own way, it has hope. and, it is complete because it is complete. one person i spoke to said, if it had the happy, sappy brand of "hope" christians usually slap on their messages, it would not have reached her in the place of pain she found herself in. i agree.

this also happens to be an excerpt from my manuscript: from the abundance of my poverty. forgive the woeful justification of my poetry...


Genesis 3:9


I am lost
find me again
I have wandered
into the wilderness
I hear You calling
come find me
I see Your face
understanding
I am sorry
for everything
I need You
to find me again.


Adrift


"One does not discover new lands without consenting
to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." Andre-Gide

There are times, like now, when I feel adrift. Tethered to no thing, certain of nothing, headed for nowhere. These are the times I want to crawl into a hole and stay there. These are the times I want to run away and never look back. These are the times that have frequented my life and punctuated my story. These are the times I dread. It is not that God has forsaken me, it is just that He has not revealed anything more than a glimpse of the future. Each time I catch a glimpse of where I am headed, my heart swells with hope. Yet, it remains just a glimpse. My actual experience is more gritty and difficult. I have ceased weeping at the pain of my aimless drifting, but today the tears come unbidden. I am uncertain why they come today except to accompany my loneliness.

I have friends aplenty, more than any one person could need. But they do not, and cannot direct my course. They do not have the answers I need or the salve for my aching soul. So I drift. Apart from fellowship and community, I cannot find the shore. My service is requested and rendered more out of obedience than any commitment or feeling of belonging. So I drift.

Once I felt anchored to something, but it has given way. No thing has come to take its place. No certainty has come to quell the lingering doubt and dismay of my circumstance. I drift far from the reach of rescue and beyond the ability of human aid. My soul rises and falls upon the tide.

There are moments when the fog lifts and I can see the horizon—then I hope again. I hope the dawn has come and land is near. But no. Not yet. Never yet. It is always somewhere beyond me. So the day stretches out into a week, the week into months, and now, years later, still adrift, I have begun to find some routine to the rhythm of my exile. But there are days, like today, when the black cloud settles upon my soul and I merely drift. Unable to hope in tomorrow or see beyond the blinding uncertainty of today.

I need a glimpse today. That somewhere this voyage will end and my journey will take a new turn. I need to be recommissioned, for my original calling has faded into the yellow parchment clutched in my hand. I need to be redeemed, for I am adrift.

Friday, October 29, 2004

noncharismatic book reviewed

you know that saying, be nice, you never know who you'll run into later. well this author was particularly nice to me, simply out of the goodness of his heart. when i saw his books come up for review, i jumped at the chance to review them. never really thinking about the implications if i gave him a bad review (because honestly, i want to give EVERYONE a good review--unfortunately, i can't). so this author was kind to me and i emailed him and said, hey, i'm reviewing your book. he said, great. let me know what you think, i want to learn. humility is always a good thing. so here it is, my review, which was a pleasure to write, mostly because the author knows how to write and he knows how to treat people. hallelujah!

12 Lies You Hear About the Holy Spirit by Tim Riter

irreverent musings of a brilliant soul

this was written by a dear friend who made me laugh, we are bantering about with alliteration, he outshines me by far. had to share it, has the f*bomb in it, so beware:

Parent Teacher conferences

are painful pedantic pilings of pestilence. Fusilades of Forgone
conclusions, fair assesments and fakeries. The teacher and parents
circumnavigate the "course" of childrens souls.
Trailblazers and Gods that we are. Fie.....
let's wax philosophic on your child's poise or piss-ant-ics
I'm so fucking tired I could drown in the Atlantic
face down face planted fathoms deep in frigid waters
in a tripple gainer, two somersaulting flip legs tucked back a quarter
but I have a break for lunch, a temporary respite
I will finish this afternoon, like I did just last night
this repartee of parents, the teacher and student
then go home and sip beer or whatever vice is prudent


some writing, eh?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

literary tirade

reading another book whose author shall remain nameless, but it is published under the bridge-logos imprint...

and i quote:

God is omnipotent. What that means is: If you need something He hasn't created yet, He has the potential to create it!


if you need something He hasn't created yet, then He isn't omnipotent. the very fact that you could need something that escaped His provision/plan tells me that He ain't too bright. and that just ain't true. think about it. a God who creates a universe and says, "it is good." then along comes His brilliant creation, uh, excuse me but you forgot... it just doesn't make any sense at all.

again, i quote:

If you're breathing, be assured that God's promise is still in you. Give your messed-up life to God. Who would have seen in this killer Moses the Ten Commandments--the civic, moral, and social laws of many nations? That potential was inside of a murderer.


while i appreciate the comfort of that word, i often need to be reminded that God's promise is still in me. it is the analogy drawn, inaccurately i believe, that causes me to shudder. the Ten Commandments weren't inside Moses, if i remember korektly they were penned by the FINGER OF GOD! they were inside God. we aren't creators here, we're just arms He uses to hold a few tablets. just people to pray a few prayers. not to diminish the validity or the place of the saints, i do think we consider ourselves more highly than we ought. in Christ, we are co-heirs and sons of God. but we are a bag of bolts, or a bucket of dust without Christ.

this is the kind of shoddy editing and woeful diction that makes me avoid christian books altogether. i hate to say it but this wouldn't have been printed in the ABA. someone would have caught it. i see a great breakdown in the christian editing profession when these books are published and sold. the fact that we gobble them up and keep going back for more is half the problem. only if there were some way to return bad books. could you imagine? we return bad food. we return bad products of all types, why do we have to keep bad books?

many pastors have this, put the cookies on the bottom shelf mentality. fine. but where they go amiss is when they strew the cookies on the floor. nobody wants a cookie trampled to crumbs. i have read one GEM in the 21 pages of this book so far. the rest of it is awkward and laborious, Lord God have mercy on me.

how do i review a book like this?

another quote:

The key to dying empty is showing up in life. Many people become the aspirations of their parents, their culture or their denomination. They fulfill other people's expectations of them. Ask yourself...


so many problems here i wonder where to begin as an editor and why to continue as a reader.

primero: "showing up in life" how awkward is that? everyone shows up in life, it's called being born. we are here. we show up because we have to. i think this author was trying to say, attend to life. be present. but showing up is unclear at best. (not to mention undeveloped). this is the umph of the book, the whole thrust of the author's point, but here it is lackluster at best.

segundo: Many people
***warning*** ***warning*** ***warning***
gross generalization to follow.

any sentence that starts out, many people, most people, or other such generalization is most likely going to be inaccurate at best and flat out wrong at worst...

tercero: diction

aspiration def: (1) the pronunciation or addition of an aspirate; also: the aspirate or its symbol. (2) a drawing of something in or out, up, or through by or as if by suction: as (a) the act of breathing and esp. of breathing in (b) the withdrawal of fluid from the body (c) the taking of foreign matter into the lungs with the respiratory current (3) a strong desire to achieve something high or great (b) an object of desire this author was probably refering to aspire: (1) to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal. (2) ascend, soar

but that is still not quite the word. don't just settle for a word, keep at it until you find the right one. make your words count.

diction problems really dull your ethos as an author. (see what i mean?!)

if i were a grammar guru, which i am not, i could tell you how this word hybridized into aspirations, but in grammartalk i am not fluent, so i'll tell you in plain simple englash.

being a poet, i take words and make them my own, use them in irreverent and new ways. however, writers of prose, unless they coin a phrase and define it (or it is so clear it needeth not defining), do well sticking to words that bear a resemblance to what they are trying to say. how simple that sounds. but this seems as much an editorial failing as an authorial oops, but of course, the editor is nowhere listed, so the author gets the credit (or demerit as the case may be).

i have a lovely friend who uses the word secret-ed (sans hyphen, for snuck away, my lowsy definition). i read the word secreted (as in oozing puss filled sore). the word you like or use as an author may not be the right word for some people, but others may have no problem with it. it is your call, but if someone gets stuck on it and mentions it, consider changing it for clarity's sake.

cuarto: pronoun issues

my intimate critique group hated me for dogging them on pronouns, but when theys unclear, theys unclear.

so here we go: typically referring to the last mentioned personal noun, the pronouns in this sentence could refer to anyone. they could be they the poor souls who are their parent's aspirations. or their parents. or their culture. or their denomination. do you see it? they could be any of these then. do you agree or is it just me, belaboring pronouns? clean it all up by saying: Are the expectations of others somehow your priority? Ask yourself... (see next point)

quinto: pronoun shift

if we didn't have enough to occupy our feeble minds with the they issue, they shifts to you within the same paragraph just one small space away. Ask yourself...

when an author addresses a reader jovially, or cordially, that is fine. but as a reader i don't like to be told what to do. i don't like to be bullied by an author. if that author has not established a friendly tone before they start youing me, then i hear an adversarial, bossy, justlikemyauntnena tone and don't like it one bit! (it's a fine line and what you write may read to you as jovial or friendly, but you can be a fickle friend--see what i mean!). another way of saying ask yourself without the pronoun shift (and in a more cordial way imho) is: Consider. i love that phrase, because it invites the reader to evaluate what the author is saying. no pushy reminder that i am the author here, (and you are the dullard who can't get published--er, i didn't just say that, did i?) just inviting the reader along for a mental stroll down my argument lane.

consider this, blah, blah, blah. is much better than, barking commands like a drill seargant.

ASK YOURSELF SOLDIER, how many push ups do i want to do?

No, try this gentler easyassundaymorning version:

Have the expectations of others somehow become your priority? Consider the following... (now author has become ally. helping the badgeredenoughinlife reader, to see from the author's perspective.)

my tirade is through. i wish all books were as excellent as the one i read just last week, one i'll blog on in the near future. what a lovely read that was.

peace!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

book review published

sometimes it is an honor to read and review a book. such was the case here:

Changing Church: How God is Leading His Church Into The Future by C. Peter Wagner

create

have you thought, as you hit that blog button "create" what a powerful word that is?

we create nothing that does not already exist, but we can rearrange the words to make them feel ours. we can tweak an idea to make it our own.

i listened to my dear brother playing with my daughter last night and i kept hearing him say, "it's not fair." to which i reply, "nothing is fair." i hate the f word.

just like i hate the s word. i heard a well known radio personality say, "shame on you if you don't vote." i told my girl to say after i said, "you can keep your shame, i don't receive it." i'm tired of people shaming on me, shoulding on me, and basically just passing off their garbage. i simply refuse to take it anymore, i don't receive it.

have i shared with you my thoughts on being offended?

the very way we use that word is telling. he "took" offense. hmm. so if we don't take it, then we don't get offended right? psalm 119:165 says, "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." sometimes i think we reinterpret nothing to me, only the things i choose. or just the things that really bug me in this verse.

but i LOVE Thy law, NOTHING shall offend me.

carl tuttle used to say, "you can't offend a dead man."

the true test of whether you are dead or no is how easily you offend. are you unflappable? or are you getting shocked and shaken by every fool thing others do around you?

there are some dear souls so easily offended that people don't speak honestly around them. i'd rather battle through my personal slight and refuse offense than have truth ground to a liquid so i don't have to learn to chew meat. growth is hard. it hurts. we don't understand it. often, i don't even want to grow. but atrophy is worse, more painful, and hope deferred, well, you know.

my camping trip looked much different than i thought it would and i was livid. my sister, wise soul that she is said, there must be a lesson here. my frustrated retort was, hope deferred, i get it! there was no getting through to me that day. but as time wore on and i began to see the plan of God unfold, my heart began to soften and i was able to praise God for altering my plans.

i hadn't known what i would "create" when i hit that button. hope it was worth your while to get here. have a blessed day!

Friday, October 22, 2004

overtired

i'm so tired right now i want to cry, or scream, like an overstimulated baby.

remember those days?

he's overtired we'd say. and rock and hug until the screaming child finally relaxed and fell asleep.

only, there is no one to hold me and rock me to sleep anymore. the last time i felt something holding me like a baby was when i was in one of those big red tonguelike swings for disabled children at the park. my hubby was off playing and attending to our girl (he is very good with her, better than me many times). and i was being held in the big tongue and the very structure of it holds you in a reclining position so you look up at the sky while you gently rock back and forth. i stayed in that swing the whole time we were there. i need to sojourn back there and let the tongue hold me again, because i am overtired and want to cry and scream.

maybe it is because i am both introvert and extrovert (every test i take breaks evenly on that line, strange isn't it?). with an unemployed hubby, i've not had time alone in a great while, and it is wearing me out. even being around friends is taxing to me. but being home, my God that is the worst.

we were supposed to be camping tonight, and my poetic soul needed to sleep under stars and be out of doors. my heart and mind really needed that break, but here i am indoors, the glow of the computer screen upon my face. i am simply overtired and want to cry and scream.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

cakelove not war

it is hard to recall the show i was watching, dateline i think, and i saw a piece about a beautiful black man named warren brown who started cakelove.

the thing he said that caught my attention was, he earned a law degree from Brown and was on the career fast track, but would moonlight for co-workers. one morning at 1 am he was baking a cake and thought, this is what i should be doing with my life.

so i ask you this, what do you do at 1 am?

(provided it is legal and biblically sound) it could be what you were created to do.

me, i read books, write and blog. of course these things have not made me rich, but this guy, he is thinking of opening cakelove and his love cafe all over the country. what a grand idea.

what would you do if failure were impossible?

that is a question culled from the motivational books i've read (and paraphrased) through the years. the answer for me is always the same, write a book. and written a book, i have--a couple of them actually.

but word has it (from a very "reliable" source, that i am unpublishable). the market wouldn't know what to do with me. especially the christian market.

is that considered failing?

not necessarily. i know somewhere there is a place for me and my works in God's plan. He just hasn't seen fit to let me know where that place is just yet. so i wait. and learn patience.

the christian publishing industry is content with rhyming poetry (the very scant amount it does publish) and stuff that is grammatically correct (not that either of those things are bad, they simply are not me).

so tell me, what would you do if you could not fail? what are you waiting for?

gratitude

i wrote this to a friend and thought it might mean something to someone out there...

i've learned that this is life. play the hand you're dealt. you can either enjoy it, or be miserable. being miserable isn't fun. so, may as well enjoy it. i keep thinking, if we lose everything, oh well. we'll move on. it will work out. just enjoy TODAY jules, don't think about tomorrow. one thing that has gotten me through this LONG season, is to ceremoniously cross the day off the calendar and say, thank you Lord we made it through another day. my gratitude journal has entries like: we are still breathing. there is always something to be grateful for. it may not seem like much, but if you look you can find it. i'll stop preaching now.

this lesson struck me when i was playing solitaire (it is what i do while waiting for my dialup to dialup). there is no way to change the cards, to reorder them (though i try), to "cheat" and reshuffle them (i confess, when playing in 3d it is hard not to reshuffle and keep going). computer solitaire is a lot like life that way, what you are dealt is what you play and sometimes, many times you lose (or at least i do).

this has helped me immensely of late because i want different circumstances in my life, i want my husband to be employed, i want to have a clean house, i want to have friends and the ability to mutually express my love and affection for them, not being a charity case any longer! but those are not the cards in my hand at this moment. i am holding lot of nines and fives, and there are nothing but jacks and queens coming up in the wrong order. so many possibilities, so few that actually workout. this is the sad tale of my times. but God is faithful. if i just hold that wretched hand up to Him, He gives me grace to get through it. He looks down in favor upon me and breathes His assurance and peace.

life sucks sometimes. but that is just the way it is. find something to be grateful for, as brennan manning says, gratitude begets trust (my paraphrase). even if it is only, i am still breathing today Lord, for that i am grateful.

i will be posting some excerpts from my Abundance of my Poverty manuscript. what the heck! perhaps they will bless you.

my press

i shared this with my dear friends, but had to post it here so i could get those warm fuzzies when i reread it.

Hi Suz,

What an awesome editor you are! Honestly, and far more critical (in the very best sense) than the outsourced editor Cook used. If you ever consider becoming an editor and want a recommendation, please let me know. I would be very glad to give a glowing one.

I really do like the way you examine the book, consider it in its context, and see how it can be improved. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

another final note from the same gracious author:
I've been honored to have you both review and critique the book, thank you, my friend and partner in ministry! Keep serving him with words.

me again: who thinks of a reviewer as a partner in ministry? someone not hoarding the spotlight, that's for sure! i am infinately blessed and much encouraged by this kind exhortation.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

scaryonettes

went to the state fair of texas a few weeks ago, and my daughter and i attended a marionette show (i should have known better than to go to something called "world on a string"). while sitting there watching the ill-proportioned, ugly puppets whose movements are awkward at best, i began to wonder, why are these things still around? who grows up saying, i want to be a puppetmaster (alright metallica fans, name that song!) apparently somebody does, because those dang puppets ain't going away. it's tragic really.

not only are the puppets ugly, their heads separate from their bodies, and if that is supposed to be cute, it isn't. one puppeteer came out with a skeleton all dressed up in those big sleeves with maracas, dancing to some song that i no longer recall. the puppeteers, all dressed in black look like floating heads and hands themselves (they must do that so they don't distract from the puppet) but something so ugly is in need of a distraction. at the very end, there were some cute line dancing french marionettes, that were all connected, so two puppeteers could operate six dancers, but they only did a few kicks then the show ended. the puppeteers don't even do ventriloquism (is that even a word?)they just move their mouths and they are right there hovering over the puppet, how is that supposed to be interesting? if you have an ugly puppet, the least you can do is learn to make it look like it is talking for/by itself (why, i don't know! i don't make the rules)

marionettes are just plain hideous. however that hasn't seemed to impede their progress (if you can call it that). went to the movies and saw a trailer for team america: world police. my friend laughed through the whole thing and i just sat there, unable to overcome my aversion to these strange thesbians (remember that ventriloquist movie from the 80s, before scary movies became truly horrifying?).

granted, seeing them on the movie screen without the legs and floating hands and heads of their puppetmasters mouthing their lines is a tad less disconcerting, but not much. they remind me of my growing aversion for clowns. there are very few clowns out there that aren't ghastly. i wish they would just go away and take the marionettes with them.

apparently the creators of south park made this film, so hopefully it will be funny if nothing else. it doesn't look like marionettes will go away after this run if it is funny though. it's tragic really.

in trying to find something visual for you visual learners, i found this site which had this tragic, but hilarious (to me) note:
On January 1, 1999, at 12:22 p.m., a fire totally destroyed the New England Marionette Opera. Consumed by the fire were more than 200 handcrafted marionettes, all sets from nine complete operatic productions, all sound, and light and office devices. Only the two large travelling bridges survived the six-hour inferno.

On November 4, 1999, the decision was made to not try to reopen the theatre.

On December 31, 1999, at 11:59 p.m., the New England Marionette Opera was officially closed.


could you imagine actually paying and going to sit through an opera done by marionettes? maybe someone in the community burned it down. (now that's just mean!)

coined

okay two words that shot out of my peabrain today, that i thought were noteworthy were:

artslut: prostituting one's art for the market

hallelujahween: the christian alternative to oct 31.

they may go nowhere, but i'm saying here and now, i said 'em first!

Friday, October 15, 2004

the freedom of simplicity

i pick up any richard foster book i can get my hands on. i stumbled across this one at a new library i now frequent, unsure if i'd read it or not, i brought it home and as is typical for foster, every page is laden with spiritual gems. when i read his books, i spend most of my time transcribing passages into my journals (him, brennan manning, and john eldredge are very slow reads for me because of this).

here is a passage from the first chapter. it describes that elusive "feeling" i have been trying to describe but as yet had no words for:

Perhaps one more paradoxical tension will be sufficient to emphasize the fact that our journey into simplicity will be as intricate, varied, and rich as human personality itself. I refer to the attractive ability to be single-hearted and at the same time sensitive to the tough, complex issues of life. It is a strange combination and quite difficult to explain, though quite easy to recognize. There is focus without dogmatism, obedience without over-simplification, profundity without self-consciousness. It means being cognizant of many issues while having only one issue at the center--holy obedience.

Jesus spoke to the heart of the matter when he taught us that if the eye were single, the whole body would be full of light (Matt. 6:22). Dietrich Bonhoffer, before he died at the hands of the Nazis, said, "To be simple is to fix one's eye solely on the simple truthof God at a time when all concepts are being confused, distorted, and turned upside down." Such focus makes one decisive and able to cut through Gordian knots of life.

But we must never confuse the clear decisiveness of the propagandist. While propagandists have a singleness of purpose that is often quite amazing (and baffling), they do not enter it by the same path as the single-hearted. In joyful abandon they pontificate on politics, religion, and philosophy, without the slightest awareness or concern for the intricacies involved. At times they may even come to the conclusions as the single-hearted, and may even express it in the same words and with the same conviction. But they came to the conclusion too quickly, too easily. It is hollow because it lacks the integrity of painful struggle.

Have you ever experienced this situation? One person speaks, and even though what he is saying may well be true you draw back, sensing the lack of authenticity. Then someone else shares, perhaps even the same truth in the same words, but now you sense an inward resonance, the presence of integrity. What is the difference? One is providing simplistic answers, the other is living in simplicity.


that says a lot to me especially during this electoral season when all seems to be shades of grey. vote for who you will, but listen to your heart. i think we can be fooled by a great many things, a great many people, but in your knower you get a read on someone and whatever that read is, go with it.

there are propagandists in the christian camp as well as the secular camp. i would rather not listen to either. it is so hard to find a man or woman who has paid the price for this complex simplicity. it is so rare to meet someone who speaks with the crystalline clarity of an unsullied stream. i find so many are playing verbal dodge ball, trying not to get hit while trying to take out the opponent that it is very rare indeed to settle down with someone for a real heart to heart conversation. but those are the moments that matter. those are the conversations that change lives.

in planning at our church, i was relaying a story of when i was in college. i was so alone on the planet then, i had a church, i was even a part of the "ministry," i was volunteering at a food bank, serving in the nursery. by all accounts i was "plugged in." but i was alone. no one could reach me. no one could penetrate that vast wall of loneliness and emptiness which seemed to surround me. i was approached one day in the lunch room by a group from some cult or church (sometimes the difference is negligible, sadly). they asked if i wanted to go to their church. i said no. they asked the wrong question. the offered the wrong spiritual food. if they had offered me a word of friendship and kindness, i would have been on board. i did show up at their church, but found myself outside looking in. it is no surprize my best friend in those days was (and probably still is) a staunch athiest. i love him dearly, but failed to offer him the words of life i so needed to hear myself.

i certainly hope the church figures out that a prosperity gospel is a delusion. the rich and pure treasures of Christ are what we need. the offer of love and kindness, ministry to the needs of real people. acknowledging the presence of the hurting and ignored--that is what the church needs to offer more than anything. but it requires her to take the time, and time is a commodity is short supply these days. it is easier to throw a few coins and a loaf of bread at the hungry or needy. but time, that is something altogether different. america is starving for acknowledgement and the investment of time. (boy what a tangent, hope it was worthwhile!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

death

a lady at church said this on sunday,
God does not let a thing die. He may shut it down for a while, but He won't kill it.


i could not hold my peace at this, i piped in, what about lazarus? to which i received no response.

so i ask you, what about Jesus? as brennan manning writes,
The most common form of presumption is the expectation that God will directly and secretly intervene in human affairs. We presume that by saying, "Lord, Lord," the cancer, or bankruptcy, or infidelity will disappear. We presume that God answers all prayers by assuring good outcomes, that food for the widows and orphans will fall from heaven, that the Holy One infallibly guarantees a baby's safe delivery, and that God will certainly sell our houses at the desired price if we plant a statue of Joseph upside down in the backyard. The theological arguments that support an interventionary God are many and varied. Frequently, people report that they have experienced a physical cure or an inner healing. And they have.
"Yet," as John Shea writes, "one brutal historical fact remains--Jesus is mercilessly nailed to the cross and despite the Matthean boast, twelve legions of angels did not save him that hour. No cop-out redemption theories that say God wanted it that way explain the lonely and unvisited death of God's son. This side of the grave Jesus is left totally invalidated by the Lord of heaven and earth. Trust in God does not presume that God will intervene."
Often trust begins at the far side of despair. When all human resources are exhausted, when the craving for reassurances is stifled, when we forgo control, when we cease trying to manipulate God and demystify Mystery, then--at our wits' end--trust happens within us, and the untainted cry, "Abba, into your hands I commend my spirit," surges from the heart.


why does the church today think she is exempt from hebrews ll? i don't understand. pretribulation is a wonderful idea, and in my heart i hope we go before the going gets rough, but as i survey the bible and the trials and the persecution of saints past, why do we get a get out of jail free card and they don't? i think it is hugely naive and will leave the bride woefully unprepared to face the days of trial ahead. get your oil now, you may not need it, but at least you'll have it ready if the bridegroom tarries.

(lost formatting on the following poem, if you'd like to see how it is supposed to look eme and i'll send it to you. i hate to see my work butchered thus, but thought the point worth it.)

Colossians 3:3


He keeps trying
_____to slay me
yet I refuse
_____to die
instead cling
_____half-alive
to this body of decay
_____and stench.

He keeps trying
_____to change me
yet I refuse
_____to surrender
my will, my ways
_____my ignorance.

He keeps trying
_____to love me
yet I refuse
_____to accept
His unreserved love
_____pure and unparalleled
I simply cannot
_____believe it.


He keeps trying
_____to slay me
yet I refuse
_____to die.


here is an unimpressive poem of mine which i wrote, or wrote me many, many years ago. it speaks of the loneliness unto death that i have experienced.


John 12:24

The feeling of loneliness
Overwhelms me
Like white ocean waves
_____Crashing
Never allowing me
To catch my breath.

(i figgerd if i could just put in underscores where the spaces are to be, at least you'd see my formatting represented--albeit imperfect, but at least you get the idea).