Wednesday, April 27, 2005

still me

with my husband's return to work, i imagined i'd be a happier, content, more at peace me than i was before.

but that is not what i am finding.

i am finding the same junk that was with me yesterday, and yesterday before yesterday, is with me here today.

how in need of healing i am.

yesterday, however, i didn't yell and get loud, praise God. i was able to be aware of my crabbiness and not vent it. which is something after all, if not much. it is a beginning.

do not despise the days of small beginnings. my word then as now.

in these small beginnings when i muddy my feet and soil my hands, coming ever before Him longing for healing, restoration, cleanliness.

He moves on me with Love, ever and always with Love.

He is the same, Yesterday, Today, Forever. and i am grateful.

in sunday school someone read the poem aloud, which i have read many times over my life. it always struck me as so profound, so true.

if you look for Me in the past, I AM not there, my name is not I Was.
if you look for Me in the fututre, I AM not there, my name is not I Will Be.


these days of longing, for past respite, for future hope, these days of heading in a direction i prayed was out. i meandered often through memories of days past, and He was there. Healing me, reminding me of where He has brought me. of the liberation He has fashioned.

in these days when i hoped for a future release, and He gave me glimpses of the road ahead, He was there too. promising me great and wonderful things. things too full of His presence for me to dream up.

He is Omnipresent.

we belittle God in our poetry. in our trite sayings.
a friend said,
sometimes things have to be simplified to get through them.

i say,
why simplify God? why not Magnify Him? Why not contemplate His actual attributes and revel in that glory? why, rather, sequester Him in a place that minimizes His grandeur?

my benadryl haze of yesterday faded, and my wise husband tells me i need to take benadryl at night so i won't feel drugged all day long. ah yes. where would i be if it weren't for him.

so today, i will mind my tone and fix my gaze on Him who is everywhere at all times present. and revel in His magnificence. i must remember not to despise this frame of dust, but to bring it, with all its limitations before the One who can make it whole and pure.

i am frailty, but so are you. He Alone is wholeness.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

book reviewz published

a most excellent book on honoring the sabbath:
Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythms of Rest by Lynne M. Baab

a book on healing from sexual abuse, also excellent:
Set Free: Stories of God's Healing Power for Abuse Survivors and Those Who Love Them by Jan Coates

i've been blessed to get my mits on some excellent books. i've got about six on my desk right now that i'm working through. feast or famine folks.

Monday, April 18, 2005

whatsoever things are lovely

as i was contemplating the passage, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are worthy, think on those things, it made me wonder.

how do we determine whatsoever things are lovely?

there was a time i thought tattoos unlovely. not anymore.

there was a time i thought anything which didn't fit my perception of a biblically appropriate conversation not worth contemplation. not anymore.

there was a time when i was so sure of my rightness, confident in my salvation, that i steamrolled those of lesser certainty with my fervor. that day is long gone.

while i don't want to go down a slippery slope into making all things lovely, i no longer think i even understand what those simple words mean. do you? really?

who determines what is lovely?

who determines what is worthy?

who determines what is pure?

in sunday school yesterday one person lamented the catholics he had seen growing up who had just confessed their sins to a priest and went out and committed the same sins.

i took issue with this.

how is that any different than for us christians?

i asked
i confess my sins very sincerely, and then run out and sin again, very sincerely. i see no difference.

it is so easy to sit in judgment of others. while i do believe there are standards, i am seeing the standards all and only in Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

anything beyond Him, is uncertain. i am unwilling to draw the line which says, tattoo, unlovely. (because to some, it is a thing of great loveliness indeed. in some cultures tattooing is a great honor.)

so do we say then, for uncivilized tribes, tattooing is lovely and therefore, all right? no, i don't think we can.

i think it lands squarely in the who-knows-for-certain category. which is where, if we were completely honest, much of life and the issues thereof fall.

one of the great wounds to my psyche is mt. rushmore.

the lakota hold the black hills as sacred.

that did not stop the carving of four faces of american presidents into them.

it is really tragic. i wonder how any native peoples anywhere can trust anyone outside their indigenous tribes.

people would say, that doesn't go on anymore. let the past go. i didn't carve the faces in mt. rushmore. but yet we flock there and gawk at those faces and mint coins with them, never acknowledging the great insult this is to native peoples who hold those hills sacred today.

disagree if you will, but this is not the way of God. He does not annihilate cultures and traditions. He speaks to people through them. i wish the church could learn to do this.

when you next think of whatever is lovely, whatever is pure, whatever is worthy, consider for a moment those who hold other opinions of loveliness, worthiness, and purity.

i am not saying lay aside your perspective, i am simply saying, consider another's. ask the Lord how to be relevant in the context of the culture and people you find yourself amidst. let's not annihilate others' traditions simply because we are afraid. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of Power and Love and a Sound Mind. let's use it!

we serve a Mighty God. He is able to transcend all cultural boundaries and barriers in ways that don't decimate a people and their traditions. let's stop being so certain that we have the stranglehold on the whole Truth. Christ Jesus is the way, the Truth, and the Life, but He must have a way to bring people to Him without ravaging their culture.

let's see if we can't find it.

(if you'd like to read an interesting book that has strikingly similar points, check out craig stephen smith's whiteman's gospel. just read it yesterday, very good indeed.)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

holy shit

a rose needs shit to grow.

that is what i heard as i was washing dishes. washing dishes, according to julia cameron is a right brained, artistic idea. many times i have left my dishes and turned on my computer to jot down something i had to capture. that was not the case today. i tried to ignore it. to shut it out, but there it was. and i began to contemplate it.

could it be God speaking? perhaps.

some would say, no because God isn't vulgar. and i agree. but is shit really vulgar?

once at church, a word was given about an overflowing toilet. we listened to the word and the church responded with applause when it was done. john wimber said, i am surprized you received that word. it was a hard word, one could easily be offended by it.

while i don't want to offend, i don't want to ignore God either. so that is what it came down to for me and the dishes. i finished them. i mulled the word over. i lollygagged over my dictionary and started investigating shit.

here's what i found:

shit: defecate, usually vulgar (no surprize there!)

fertilizer: manure or chemical mixture used to make soil fertile

manure: material that fertilizes land, especially refuse of stables and barnyards consisting of livestock excreta with or without litter. (excreta = fertile)

refuse: unwilling to accept (this reminded me of the offended who are unwilling to receive an offensive word) to show or express unwillingness to do or comply with. give up. renounce. to withhold acceptance (i can just see the offended now), compliance, or permission. the worthless or useless part of something: leavings (but if it were worthless, how could it result in fertility? how could it result in anything of value?). trash, garbage. thrown aside or left as worthless (like we do with the offensive words/people that can't possibly be God/or acting on God's behalf).

excreta: waste matter eliminated or separated from an organism especially excretions.

defecate: free from impurity or corruption. to discharge through the anus. to discharge feces from the bowels.
feces: bodily waste discharged through the anus. excrement.

excrement: waste matter discharged
(like so many offensive people/words the church throws aside) from the alimentary canal.

aliment: food, nutrition, sustenance. to give aliment to, nourish, sustain. (the healthy, redemptive aspect of shit, but it could be said fertilizer is also the healthy, redemptive side)

alimentary: of or relating to nourishment or nutrition. furnishing sustenance or maintenance.

alimentary canal: the tubular passage that extends from the mouth to anus and functions in digestion and absorption of food eliminating the residual waste.
(it begins at the mouth, wow, i used to think the mouth was noble and the anus ignoble, but where does the ignobility end and the nobility begin?)

residual: of or relating to or constituting residue. leaving a residue that remains in effect for some time.

residue: something that remains after a part is taken, separated or designated: remnant, remainder
(a remnant, whoa! this is interesting).

remnant: a usually small part, member or trace remaining. a small surviving group. an unsold or unused end of piece goods. still remaining.

you still with me?

i am impressed if you are. believe me, i didn't want to go there either. but here we are. at a remnant. shit ain't so bad at all. it is just our connotations with that word. that uncomely word. it shuts down the receptivity of an individual, perhaps, and rouses the offendable religious spirit.

i was thinking about the ramifications of this, the way i write and in some way it is both good and bad.

bad in that it can be divisive. but i do believe Jesus, when calling a gentile woman who was asking for healing for her child, a dog operated in a similar fashion. i won't go so far as to say He cussed. but i'm sure it's no sin. it is just how the lower set live. speak. are. would we call Jesus divisive, no. never! but is that accurate? dividing the Word of Truth, the sheep from the goats. there can be some positive aspects to division. dividing the offendable from those who can press through the offense. that is something indeed.

good in that it opens the word i have here to those who are sullied. like me. my righteousness is in and from Christ Jesus, but there is no good thing in me. i cuss. i don't mean to but it is not something that is as discouraging to me anymore as it once was. i was deeply perplexed by it when i first became a Christian and the church was saying, jump through this hoop and roll over, catch this bone. i'm not a trained poodle anymore.

perhaps you don't know this, perhaps you do, but indian larry died a few months back. he is a motorcycle artist, sideshow carney who used to stand up as he rode his motorcycle. he was amazing.

his friends, since his passing, have rallied together to build a memorial cycle which they will auction off to the highest bidder and give the proceeds to indian larry's family.

this moves me deeply. i wept when i heard of this.

i don't see the church by and large doing this. i don't see us rallying together like this to make a way where there is no way. this opinion is based largely on my past four years of dark, dark nights.

when will we function like a body? a true body? a united body? when will we stop being so offended at the look and sound of a man and start seeing beyond that to the heart. what brought that man to where he is at that he could cuss like that or tattoo his body like that, or pierce himself like that?

these are the questions i'd like to hear the church asking.

as for me, i see the shit in my rose word as persecution. the church (or rose) needs to come together and bloom. she cannot do this without the fertilizer (a nice way of saying shit).

the psalm, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You O, God, my Lord and my Redeemer echo in my mind, even as i write these words. i cry out to Him just as you do for an acceptable expression of what i believe He is saying and doing in these days. then i get a word like this.

the church isn't going to like it one bit Lord, i say.

He doesn't back down.

they won't hear it Lord.

and He reminds me of the samaritan woman at the well. they didn't care too much for her either. but if Jesus was offendable, He wouldn't have gone anywhere near that woman.

i see so many avoiding the unlovely that it troubles me. i do it too. hurt people hurt people, as the saying goes. who needs to be hurt? we do. the church needs to once again become broken bread and poured out wine. we are so focused on being perfect as Christ is perfect, and with good reason. but does that perfection equal looking a certain way, speaking a certain way, and behaving a certain way. i don't think so. that is where i think we miss so much of what the Lord is wanting us to do. (i include myself in this, as i am as reluctant as the next guy to talk to witches and pedophiles. i would rather not, but God would rather i do. tragic as that fact may be.)

i wish the church would stop being so offendable and start to look deeper. be Jesus in this world. it will take you places you never dreamed you'd go. you wil do things, like spit in men's eyes (how offensive is that?), you never thought you'd do.

can we unleash God, or are we too offendable for that? He doesn't want to be boxed in anymore. and He doesn't want us boxed in by the safe, comely walls of the church building.

Monday, April 11, 2005

show off

sometimes God is a show off.

did you wake up this morning?

you can thank God for a little thing called the alignment of the planets, making it possible for us to live and breathe on this rock we call earth.

this rock is none too shabby either, with photosynthesis plants exhale the very substance we inhale. hmm. symbiosis at its best. show off.

did you comprehend what i just wrote?

the little neurons firing away in your brain make it possible to read, comprehend, perhaps laugh at my wit (or lack thereof). and the blinking eyelids keep those balls moist for the intake of characters which form letters, which the brain interprets into readable understandable comprehendable language. God, showing off again.

i know we modern day, evolved highly adapated humans think some great urp in the cosmos made it all happen, but nope, it was God. showing off.

on day, perhaps just like today (except there was nothing, no keyboard, no light, no air, no heavens). God was tired of being (perhaps tired is the wrong word, but you try to find the right word, show off!), alone (although He wasn't really alone was He, He was three and three was He. They lived in perfect harmony.).

He delighted to fashion something wonderful. He considered the horrible things we would do and the cost it would require and still He made us. show off.

and it boggles the mind, my mind that is, that humans think such a magnificent Show off is impotent. powerless. angry. reclining on His otherworldly chaise lobbing lightning bolts at us when we go astray.

i don't think that way.

on the very day of my thirty-fifth, we got a call.

the phone, whose lines run underground and transmit my husband only knows what, emitted a sound which was perceived at first by my ears, then my brain said, go, answer it. so my arm stretched out and thanks to my opposable thumbs, no accident, intentional (God showing off again), i was able to grasp the phone and hold it to my fleshy part which protrudes from the side of my head, cupping sound and drawing it down into the ear canal and reverberating the drums (which were gladly not blown out in early heavy metal head banging days--God preserving my hearing, show off).

i laughed, as i hung up the phone after jotting a message on a pad of cellulose ground from a tree, the same tree which emits what i need to breathe.

my husband's birthday rolls around, the sun is still peaking in the sky, not close enough to fry us (like the holiness of God would if He came too close). and the phone rang. my husband, fully comprehending the complexities of a phonecall reached out and answered it. he laughed.

the job, it seems, was ours. God showing off again. look what I can do, He says. only in retrospect do i begin to realize what a wonderful show off He can be. i am so grateful for His design. for His incomprehensible purpose. even when we try to break it down and comprehend it, we try to box and package Him like Wheaties. we try to mass market Him like Cheerios. He is no commodity, no serf to be ordered about by peons.

He is, and ever will be, a show off.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

last of the melancholy

the day before, i wrote this. i sat with an exceptional book i am honored to review (jan winebrenner's the grace of catastrophe) and a kite, tangled, crying out in the wind called to me. i closed the book and here is what i wrote:

a kite
the tree
out of
longing to be
the wind
by piercing
i have
from where
my liberation


the thing about being in community is this. the poets i now know write with such eloquence, such beauty that it makes me look at my simple verse and as i dust them off and send them out into the world, i wonder if they will find a place in your heart, or if that alone is reserved for the eloquent.

I long
To fly

we held our breaths until the paperwork was actually in hand, but now, the great relief allows me to tell you the day before is, the day before my husband got a job. hallelujah!

the long dark night is over.

there is a cloud the size of a fist on the horizon, the drought has at long last, ended. i must run and tell the King.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

know fear

tutoring this midlife/returning student mom in psychology once, she spoke of fear. she was afraid of something or other.

i told her
find out what the fear is about. if it is something to be genuinely fearful of, say, walking across a shaky bridge over a bubbling volcano, then that fear might be helpful. but if it is just fear that is keeping you from doing something. fear of the unknown, find out what is unknown and do it. press through the fear.

i remembered this conversation as i was mulching my garden on sunday. our culture has taken fear to an entirely new level. it is marketed, mass produced, and freaks us out. this is probably well intentioned by those who seek to profit from said fear.

think about it, in the days long ago, when a fire was the only entertainment and songs were sung, dances were danced. all went to bed and rose with the sun, those were not fearladen days like we have now.

creatures of darkness were not the jasons or the freddy kreugers of our imaginations but lions and tigers and bears. (oh my!) understandable predators in the scheme of things. explainable would be the death of a lone person ravaged by wolves.

but we have taken fear to all new levels. we have a culture permeated with fear.

fear of body sweat and dust mites, allergens and dirty air in our homes. fear is everywhere.

fear was once a necessary fight or flight indicator. now it is a cheap thrill. it has become so distorted that we fear demons making our coffee maker gurgle and our tv static-y.

i am tired of it.

when God said, fear not. i have come to believe that we need to know what the fear is about and reckon with it. our culture pumps us with fearful images and stories, ideas and possibilities and we are locked in fear's tentacles.

what are you afraid of? is it a rational fear? is it a necessary fear, God given, warning you to stay away from the loaded gun your friend is weilding. then heed that fear and take action.

but i think this culture of fear is infecting the church as well. we fear demons, principalities, rulers in high places. and with some reason.

but last time i checked, God was still God. God was still ALL mighty. ALL powerful. ALL sovereign. what are we afraid of then, really? what can demons or principalities do to us that God cannot make work for our good? nothing. no thing. nada. zip.

know what you are afraid of.

know what fear is besetting you.

use fear as a reminder to draw closer to the Living God. He is your refuge and mine. A strong tower. An ever present help in time of need.