Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pedestal

Among the list of posts unpublished this year are six drafts
~ the third draft entry contains an image:














Exhaustion is a dangerous thing, rocking earthly pedestals, unleashing our fragile humanity, crushing the unrealistic and worldly expectations others hold for us, decimating our own illusions of stability and control.

When my struggles reveal anger and weakness within me, when women and men around me are disappointed with my response or my silence, when healing seems impossible, can hope remain?

When a mentor and friend falls from a pedestal, will I stand idly watching, ruminating the impact on me?

Or, will I step closer, offer a measure of comfort, hope in Christ?


Here I Am Lord


Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send
as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Isaiah 6:8



Will my heart move from a cowardly I can't to a bold faith-infused How can I not? more

Rw
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Photo Credit
Photo Link
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Friday, December 30, 2011

Grace: After Midnight in a Bar

Among the list of posts unpublished this year are six drafts
~ the second draft entry reads:

Grace meets you exactly in the moment when you're
most terrified that you're going to be found out, and when
you're most acutely aware of everything that you're not.
Grace meets you in that moment and ... frees you to
own all of the things that you aren't.
—Rob Bell, Marshill.org

A messily-divorcing-twenty-something-brunette sits in a too-familiar local bar, her children visiting the soon-to-be-Ex and his girlfriend this July 4th weekend. She simply wants to be left alone.

A tall man walks over, asks in a Texas accent, "May I sit here?"

Her reply, "You can sit anywhere you want," is caustically dismissive. She returns to her drink, is surprised as he sits down.

The scene is dark, lacking the sparkling hope of magic endings, the Once Upon A Time promise of a bedtime story suitable for children.

Research has revealed that the best predictor of the
security of our children's attachment to us is our ability to
narrate the story of our own childhood in a coherent fashion.
—Daniel Siegel, Mindsight


Ours is a story of three rings without story-book proposal. The first wedding ring, a simple gold band purchased for me by me in a shopping mall jewelry store in the city where we first met ... just days before our courthouse wedding when the romantic within me realized the no-ring-thing wasn't really working for me. The second ring, a secret purchase, a gift for my husband after our parish priest, Father Richard Gubbels, walked me through the hoops and healing of annulment. The third ring, an anniversary band, a surprise gifted to me by my husband.

In the good years, marriage is fun and easy. In the years when I can do nothing but whine and complain, the tall man stands by me. In the years when he is unhappy, I hold onto him.


23 August 1991


God met us in the darkness brought us into the Light.

Do everything without complaining or arguing ...
shine like stars in the universe. Philippians 2:15


Rw
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Draft: Rumors to Nudge Me

Among the list of posts unpublished this year are six drafts
~ the first draft entry reads:

"If nothing else, God used the rumors to nudge me into
something I’ve been avoiding for a long time: my own
compassionate statement of beliefs, one I could articulate
to people who may agree with me, and those who don’t.
I believe Christ calls us to listen patiently, then speak
with love and wisdom as He did in John 8:1-11 – one of
the cornerstone scriptures for whispered hopes."
—Rw 04 Mar 2011

The words, snipped from an email, quickly transport me back to a moment when I called a close friend a coward, then realized the cowardice was all mine.

My name calling preceded a meeting of twenty or so male leaders and three women from a range of denominations. The topic was sexual orientation, how churches often alienate LBGTQ humanity, a sharing of ideas for making our faith communities more welcoming? Less hostile? I doubt that anyone in the meeting walked away with a plan of action, a strategy for change. I came away agreeing with the man I called a coward: we church-people were asking the wrong questions.

Rereading my pre-meeting email, I now see change within me.

Almost a year earlier, in spring 2010, I'd refused to speak, passed up the opportunity to express my beliefs about sexual orientation, in the quintessential safe-church-place: my Sunday afternoon small group. Fear silenced me in a room full of close friends.

Months later I felt the guiding hand of God, a summons to articulate and risk more, a different audience, men like those in the meeting, near-strangers less likely to agree with me.

That is the biggest risk, isn't it? To articulate our faith to people who may not agree with us, in a way that might be heard, a way embodying the love and wisdom of Christ – a man who was tortured and put to death.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
—Martin Niem├Âller

In John 8:1-11, Jesus pauses to bend and draw on the ground, stands and asks a question, then stoops and returns to drawing. He takes a submissive posture and exhibits a calm faith in God.

Jesus invites me to bend, to stoop, to exhibit faith.

Christ asks me to put down my stones.

Rw
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Words of Healing?

John 8:1-11
Photo Credit

Words of Healing?

Out of this morning’s meditation came the following prayer:
“Jesus, nurture me that I may live a fruitful life and share that blessing with others. Help me articulate a healing word here, a concise healing word that could be heard by those God loves – which is both the haters and the hated, those who hide and those who are open about their sexuality – words I might speak to this issue that I could say to ALL men and ALL women, words of healing. Amen”

I need to articulate where I am on the issue of homosexuality. The first rule of practicing law applies here – no surprises, never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer. Not that you are going to call on me, but transparency demands that I reveal where my heart is, so here we go ...

The insanity surrounding sexual orientation makes me crazy – I may be wrong, but I find myself viewing our sexuality as a place along a line, a continuum, where we slide left or right throughout our life as we learn and grow, are wounded and are healed. Much like Conservative-Moderate-Liberal, in my mind our sexuality is a place on the line Heterosexual-Bisexual-Homosexual – where we are is a function of our hearts, minds and bodies. Life experiences, teachings, and biology.

I may be wrong. I am still working on it. The biology piece is intriguing to me – how DID God design us? A dear friend speaks of homosexuality as a result of trauma. I hear her voice. I respect her knowledge and experience. Her word ‘deviant’ is often sandpaper for me, which simply signals that the enemy doesn’t want me to hear her – actually lending credibility to her beliefs. God’s design (Genesis) speaks boldly to man and woman, but I still doubt and question.

An article in TIME (a magazine I’ve picked up once since joining our community of faith – and read only this article link) explores biology and things we may not yet understand.

The heavy handed use of Romans 1:26-32 to bash homosexuality makes me crazy. I see it as condemning a much broader range of behaviors in which all of us have participated in one way or another. A year ago our study of Romans in my small group led to a discussion of homosexuality, a conversation in which I failed to speak in defense of those being persecuted, and this failure left me feeling completely disconnected from my friends, and eventually led to my leaving the group. To say my departure lacked transparency is a gross understatement. I found and articulated many other excuses for my departure and slithered into the darkness never telling the group the truth. My inability to articulate with courage is what lead me the Beth Moore “Believing God” study at another faith community, more structure and lots of healing. (very Romans 8:28 ... Romans healing? Not bashing? ... an irony just discovered as this morning as I am writing this)

If I had that moment to do over again, the moment when I could speak up in my small group, I’d say that:
  • for me the ‘jury is still out’ on whether or not homosexuality is a sin
  • having been divorced and promiscuous I have often been beaten by those yielding their Bibles as weapons of mass destruction
  • I will love people wherever they are on the sexual orientation continuum, encourage them to be open with me, and treat them with dignity
  • I will choose to affirm what the Bible affirms
  • I will build up, encourage, celebrate the humanity and the potential for greatness in every person
  • when I stand before my Creator and learn the truth about our sexuality, I will risk being wrong and in need of forgiveness, rather than seek eternal damnation by being cruel and unkind which I believe our Creator will find indefensible.

You may share this with our dear friend mentioned above – or not – as you wish. You know her better than anyone and I trust the two of you completely.

As often happens, the word “coward” I used when we first talked about this before man club was not meant for you, but for me. A mirror held up so that I might see my own foundational weakness, places that need more work.

This is one of those moments when I seek to run and hide, to press delete instead of send, so if you got to the bottom of this email please pray for me.

Rw

25 Feb 2011

Genesis 1:26-28
Romans 1:26-32
Romans 8:26-28

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

5:57 a.m. Train

Most days, I barely notice the trains that surge through town before daylight, yet this a.m. while letting a dog out, the throbbing wave of a moving train met me at my kitchen door.

As a little girl and a teen bride, train tracks ran nearly adjacent to the affordable rentals I called home. In my lifetime train tracks were repurposed, converted to bike trails and walking paths. This morning, tracks a few blocks east of this house - my home for more years than any other place on earth - remind me how far the little girl has traveled.

Tracks across the Midwest rusted silently for decades before being invigorated by new-to-us sand mines that feed hydraulic fracturing, the extraction of natural gas and petroleum. In the media frenzy surrounding this new-to-me technology and the economic boom the mining brings to rural communities, the lonely sound of a moving train transports me to an office, in a home where the property adjoins one of those bike trails, a place of faith and prayer. We are working on a project. I am sitting at a desk, working on a computer. I am in tears. I remember the comfort of the hands on my shoulders, the softly spoken words.

In the chaotic "Not In My Back Yard" reaction to sand mines, there are fists and tears. We forfeit friendships with loud voices and blame big business for our woes, when it is our neighbors who sold the mining rights to keep family farms, our daughters and sons who work the mines and oil fields to feed and cloth our grandchildren. Sand mines are driven by our own human greed for fossil fuels, bigger houses to heat, the many-too-many trips to the shopping mall, our multiple-car lifestyles, the commitment to commuting.

Our choices make mining profitable, the fists and tears possible.

In the selfish panic of "Me Me Me" we lose the human connections, the softly spoken words that bring us closer in Christ.


I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time
I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do
more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master,
Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent
and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes
focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what
it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of
this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh,
the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him
—endless energy, boundless strength!
Ephesians 1:1 MSG


Like the steel wheels of a train, prayer rubs the rust from the tracks of our human hearts, moves us toward the miraculous healing power of God.

Rw
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Minnesota
North Dakota
Texas
Wisconsin
 
Photo Credit

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Embracing Miracles

What things am I pondering in my heart at this time? ... that the sorrow surrounding me may not heal with rest and prayer.

Perhaps this is a new level of following, seeing the pain, the sorrow, the cruelty, attempting to understand God, Jesus ... my role, the plan for our world.

Dark secrets revealed, life stories told to me by friends and strangers - even movie images like those in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" - cannot be rehidden, untold, unseen, erased ...

What might I might learn from Mary? ... embrace the miracles.

Mary kept all these things to herself,
holding them dear, deep within herself.
Luke 2:19 MSG

and

Jesus' mother held these things dearly,
deep within herself.
Luke 2:51 MSG


Mary loves deeply, holds and reflects on the promise God is revealing: Baby Jesus, the angels and shepherds, the words of Anna the prophetess and Simeon; then years later as she and Joseph discover the Boy Jesus in the Temple, His comfort and naturalness while seated among the teachers, Jesus listening and asking questions.

Mary encounters mystery, holds the miracles in a gentle, reflective embrace. Mary is a patient and quiet disciple; she waits for the unfolding of God's story, the plan for our world.

Mary embraces the promise, trusts God with the pain.


Mary Did You Know
video


Loving Creator,
You formed my heart, grant me the ability
to keep and ponder all that you show me in the stillness.
Amen


Rw
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Inspiration: The Heart of It All
Photo Credit: Mary and Jesus

Monday, December 26, 2011

Refusing SHOULD

In 1989 I began composing dreaded-or-cherished annual recaps, filled with progeny-accomplishments and material-world-status-reports. As I thumb through file folders containing decades of letters, I am drawn to 1996, the year of SHOULD write, 366 days of middle-class angst painted with splotches of insanity.

1996 opened with Hubby's promotion to V.P. of Construction ... the goal of all the moves and changes over the past decade! Son and Hubby played basketball, and in February the four of us spent a weekend snowskiing. March took Mom away to Tourist Destination for a weekend with her sisters and mother, while Hubby hosted a brother for NCAA Basketball Playoffs.

In April, Son and Daughter participated in "Take A Child To Work Day" at Real Estate Office One and in May Mom moved to Real Estate Office Two. Daughter marched and played trombone in the Memorial Day Parade. July 4th all four of us marched to promote Nonprofit A [where Mom was on the Board], then raised $ at a brat stand and car wash. Multi-Generation Family Weekend at Lake Up North, found us relaxing with Mom's Family-of-Origin.

In July Son began trumpet lessons, and Hubby road 437 miles - bicycling his way across Midwestern State of Origin. In August Mom ran away from home ... returning to within 50 miles of where she grew up. Daughter, Son and Mom spent six weeks with Aunt-Uncle-Cousins Family, before renting a house in the country. Daughter and Son attend Local Middle School with Cousin. They are active in Band and Chorus ... giving a fall concert in November. Thanksgiving found us with four generations of family at Maternal-Aunt-Uncle's house; followed by two days of deer hunting for everyone (Daughter, Son, Cousin and Hubby) with a very patient Expert-Hunter-Uncle.

Hubby continues to work as V.P. Construction at Big-City-Company, residing in Mister Boss's GuestHouse at the LakeHouse since the sale of our House-In-Right-Suburban-Location in early October.

Mom works three days each week in the laundry department of an elderly-care center near the kids' school, Hubby makes the five-hour commute each weekend, and our decade of living in transition continues into a 12th year.

Despite the challenges ahead, life is peaceful here, and we look forward to a new and different life in 1997.

Merry Christmas!
Mom, Hubby, Daughter, Son, Girl Dog, Boy Dog and Hamster

I loath the task of writing this letter and whip myself into SHOULD shape, punishing the brag-write-share years by fulfilling the implied obligation to continue, even as our lives fall apart. Appearances signaling our arrival at American Dream Central are imploded by a manipulating-deserter-wife-person in the Family Life Portrait: Me.

"our decade of living in transition continues into a 12th year"

The words on the page whisper my realization: our arrival at the place we'd spent years striving toward is an uncharted emptiness of perfection promised, a hollow silence, dark hopelessness, echoed IF ONLYs.

True to non-transparent form, in the closing paragraph, Me ties 1996 in a bright Christmas bow of peace and hope.

Dan Allender now frays the ends of my ribbon, rips back the shiny wrappings of this illusion-al tendency within me.


Should
  • simple past tense of shall.
  • (used to express condition): Were he to arrive, I should be pleased.
  • must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency): You should not do that.
  • would (used to make a statement less direct or blunt): I should think you would apologize.


In 2011 SHOULD falls away from my vocabulary, 
is replaced with "Yes, I feel the need to..." 
and "Yes, I will consider..." or "No, thank you..."

I am earnestly avoiding coercion, the
corrosively inhumane phrase,
"You should..."


... and Christ asks, "Do you want to get well?" John 5:6


Yes!



Rw

Writing assignment given to participants in the May 2011 "To Be Told" workshop lead by Dan Allender: Before you arrive, please write a 600-900 word story that tells of a significant tragedy, harm or heartache that is related to your choice to work in the area of sexual brokenness. Please write nothing that feels vulnerable to read in your group. We want you to be honest and yet even more honoring to where you are in your journey. You simply may not wish to share stories of some of your greatest harm. We have only a short period of time to process these stories and so we honor what you choose to share and what you don't. The group time will involve reading, reflecting and considering the implications of your story in light of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Dictionary.com

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Messiah

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.
It cost God plenty to get
you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ's sacred blood, you know.
He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It's because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God. —1 Peter 1:18-21 MSG

God always knew he was going to do this for you, for me.

Eons before Eve drew her first breath, or Mary felt the first flutter of life within her womb, God knew.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, God's perfect humanity.

Each human life is a journey with the Creator who intelligently and divinely grants us the dignity of free will while laying out a plan
for every breath of our lives. My life. Your life. Every life.

Be Blessed this Christmas!
Celebrate a future in God!

You Raise Me Up
Selah


Rw
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Photo Credit

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Snow-Woman Delight



a splash of light
from the camera
brightens the night
one morsel of Christmas
a snow-woman delight

her long-tasseled cap
and red-rosy cheeks
bring a smile to my heart
the Christmas it seeks

within the pine garland
behind her, lights twinkle
stockings held with red bows
ribbon crisp without wrinkle


new ornaments gifted
old baubles displayed
potato soup simmers
simple, homemade

prepared for our guests
dining table arranged
stoneware, cloth napkins
festive comforts unchanged

no tree this year
my decision, debated
alters the landscape
a tradition, created?

space in our lives
less retail vanity
hearts more attune
with earthly humanity

palm trees and shepherds
a celebration, we sing
the Nativity centers
welcome Jesus, our King

a Nativity gifted by a friend


a favorite Christmas carol
Winds Through The Olive Trees

Rw
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 2

4 ... 3 ... 2 ...

Dec 3 bake cookies with daughter, mom, sisters, nieces, nephew
Dec 5 write annual letter, begin mailing cards
Dec 12 think about getting a tree
Dec 13 help with a club Christmas party, bring cranberry juice and dessert
Dec 19 dust banister, hang stockings pine-garland and lights
Dec 20 think about getting that tree
Dec 21 wash sheets, prepare guestroom, deliver cookies and gifts to a club
Dec 21 invite our adult children to Christmas Eve dinner
Dec 22 shop for modest gifts with hubby, take time for lunch
Dec 22 attend beautiful wedding of friends, enjoy dinner, dance
Dec 23 write and mail remaining Christmas cards
Dec 23 wrap a gift for our mail lady, mail a book to a friend
Dec 23 clean house, get groceries, consider a last-minute dash for a tree?
Dec 24 cook dinner, bake chocolate cake
Dec 24 gather to worship, share late evening meal with our adult children
Dec 25 meet loved ones for coffee, gather to worship
Dec 25 lunch with our children and my family of origin


The stemware and holiday mugs, cloth napkins and winter stoneware wait for me, ready to replace the coming and going of Christmas cards on the dining room table. Pledge, the one with the broken top, mists the lemony smell of clean onto my dust rag, probably for the final time. The plastic top broken over a year ago symbolizes the deliberate frugal focus of this past year, a pledge to living on less, creating and celebrating more. The corner where I had envisioned our tree remains waiting and empty ~ perhaps anticipating a commitment from me to a new legacy, a Christmas that begins with the sundown of pre-holiday chaos and spans the twelve days to Epiphany?

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea,
during the time of King Herod,
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked,
“Where is the one who has been born
king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east
and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed,
and all Jerusalem with him.
When he had called together all the people’s
chief priests and teachers of the law,
he asked them where the Christ was to be born.

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied,
“for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’


Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found
out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and make a careful search for the child.
As soon as you find him, report to me, so that
I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king,
they went on their way, and
the star they had seen in the east
went ahead of them until it stopped
over the place where the child was.
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
On coming to the house, they saw the child
with his mother Mary, and they bowed down
and worshiped him. Then they opened their
treasures and presented him with gifts
of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Matthew 2:1-11 NIV1984


Rw
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

What Child is This


This portrait of a child -
Baby Elijah - was among the Christmas cards arriving yesterday by mail. Inside is
a greeting from Make Way Partners, my friend Kimberly, who cares for orphans amid the chaos of human trafficking in Sudan, Romania, Peru and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Baby Elijah is an integral part of Kimberly's life story.

She is an essential part of his - a miracle in Christ.

The women handed Baby Elijah to me. My youngest child is now 18 years old, but in an instant I remembered holding my children for the first time and was moved by the fragility of life. None of the village women would nurse the starving baby because food is so scarce they were afraid they would not produce enough milk for him and their baby, too ...

... The compound workers and I prayed and tended Baby Elijah carefully around the clock for days. At times, his fever spiked so high and his breath was so shallow, we thought surely he would die at any moment. Many of the villagers seemed certain he would, as there is a superstition that a dead mother will call her infant to her from her grave.

—Kimberly L. Smith, Make Way Partners

There is a superstition that a dead mother will call her infant to her grave. The words carry a dark image, the enemy's death grip, the fleshless skeletal fingers of satan squeezing the last breath of hope from the hearts of the people of Sudan. The intertwined life stories of Elijah and Kimberly sometimes seem far removed from the joy of Jesus' birth, much closer to His crucifixion. The hymn Kimberly included in her Christmas card speaks to my heart:

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Hast, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Hymn words by William Chatteron Dix, 1865

Kimberly's book Passport to Darkness is filled with stories: the Courage of Humanity amidst inhumanity and the Joy of Boundless Hope she finds in Christ.

Rw
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Kimberly Smith was an average American churchgoer, wife, and mother—until she dared to ask God His dreams for her life. Traveling around the world and deep into the darkness of her own heart, Kimberly's worst fears collided with her faith as she and her family discovered the atrocities of human trafficking. But it was in that broken place that a self-centered life was transformed into an international effort to save thousands from modern-day slavery, persecution, disease, and genocide. more

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grandpa

"Where did Grandpa go?" the child asks.
"He's in heaven now." her mother answers.
"What's heaven?" asks the puzzled child.
"Heaven is where God lives."
"Why did Grandpa go there?"
"Because it was his turn to be with God."
"Can I go too?"
"Someday, when its your turn."
"Oh. Mom, when I go can I take my teddy bear?"

The child struggles to understand what has happened to her grandfather, but the concept of death is beyond her grasp.

He had always been there ... a knight in shining armor chasing away the monsters that lurked under her bed ... a partner
in crime, stealing cookies when Mom turned her back ... a cherished companion offering the warm, safe refuge of his arms when she needed a hug. Grandpa had been her friend and more; he was
the center of her universe.

He made her feel she was someone special. She was not merely a child, but HIS grandchild, and for his grandchild he painted the "American Dream." She would go far in the world, accomplish great things. But all that was far, far away, somewhere out there in the future.

For now they could walk in the park and eat strawberry ice cream on the front porch. They could discover the treasure hidden within each Christmas package and birthday surprise ... build snowmen and sandcastles ... sing one extra chorus of her favorite song.

Suddenly he had been taken away to this place called heaven, with God and the angels ... that was where Grandpa lived now.


I was the little girl, only five when my grandfather died. His premature death brought him immortality, immortality of a special kind. I shall forever see my grandfather through the loving and idealistic eyes of a child. A child not yet disenchanted by life's cruel blows. I remember only the good, the kind-heartedness,
the love of my grandfather.

The greatest benefactors of my grandfather's love were the members of his family, especially the grandchildren. Family was
my grandfather's most valued possession. By the time of my debut into this family, grandfather's four daughters had given him five granddaughters. Surrounded by so many of the female persuasion, my grandfather must have prayed for a boy with each new child. If he was disappointed, it was not evident, for he enjoyed each of us girls, making us feel special and showering us all with love.

Each one of us felt his love in our own special way. Each one of us grew up believing we had been his favorite. Grandfather had given us a special gift; he had made each one of us feel that we were someone special, individuals, each with our own gifts to give.

My grandfather then was a man with his own special gift to give, and he gave each and every member of his family this most precious gift ... his love. This love remains with us forever, and for me remains forever untarnished because it is the pure, idealistic love of a grandfather for his grandchild.


I originally wrote this piece in 1987, a ceremonial speech for Communication Arts 104. I've been attempting to find it for about a month. Yesterday, while carrying Christmas decorations from our basement, two boxes marked 'Memories' caught my eye. I abandoned my decorating, emptied the contents of 'Memories' onto my kitchen counters, table and floor. The lost is found.

Today I take a moment, read my Grandfather's obituary, one I found online a couple of years ago. His obituary appeared in the local newspaper 21 December 1967. It does not list a cause of death. In hushed tones the adults whispered suicide.

The child now sees what she was told, his heart simply gave out.

Grandpa died just days before Christmas.



Monday, December 19, 2011

American Beauty

Growing up in the '70s, the Miss America pageant was a family tradition. Early in each broadcast, we'd each select the woman
we thought most likely to win, then cheer for her as the pageant progressed, celebrating when she was among the finalists, earning bragging rights if she won.

Looking back, I was most enthralled with the on-stage questions asked, the answers seemingly unrehearsed. In a contest where the vast majority of time seemed focused on evening gown and swimsuit competitions, my heart centered on the words.

In a fuzzy decade-long collage, pasted onstage interviews, I am left with an answer articulated as most important for humanity: world peace. At some point the embittered young woman me begins to mock the stereotyped and simplistic answer.

Life experience has taught her not to hope.

Wisconsin's own Terry Meeuwsen won the title of Miss America 1973, wearing a much-publicized American POW bracelet.

Colorado's Rebecca King, Miss America 1974, shocked the nation when she admitted she entered for the scholarship money. Rebecca received nationwide publicity during her tenure for her pro-choice stance while a country was torn over the Roe vs. Wade issue. She became the first Miss America to use her scholarship funds to attend and graduate from law school.

Rebecca crowned 21-year-old doctoral candidate Shirley Cothran of Texas as Miss America 1975... Shirley was quoted in The New York Times as saying "I respect what they are doing, and hope [NOW] can respect me for what I'm doing. Until I get married I prefer 'Miss' Cothran rather than 'Ms'."

—Miss America Review more

I watched my final Miss America pageant more than 30 years ago. The bitter young me who wanted to hate the "Miss" and applaud the "Ms" now simply admires the woman from Wisconsin with the inner strength to wear the POW bracelet, speak to what really matters: humanity, world peace.

In visiting the strip clubs, we are blessed to share friendship with women of inner beauty and undeniable strength, women who defy the lies our "Christian" culture attaches to people who would work "there" – women who possess a radiance within, compassion in sisterhood with the Miss America from Wisconsin.

Vanessa Williams, a Miss American 1984, is high on my list of American heroines. Today I embrace seven others:
  • the woman who refused to change her name, a Jewish spokesperson for cooperative existence
  • the woman who relied on fellow contestants to cue her onto and across the stage, trusting her competition because being deaf from childhood, she couldn't hear the verbal cues nor read the lips of the MC on the dark stage
  • the woman with juvenile diabetes who competed and won with support hose over the insulin pump strapped to her leg
  • the woman who played by pageant rules to win, then embraced her own integrity announcing she was an opera singer not a pin-up, and refusing to wear a swimsuit again
  • the woman who attempted suicide then wrote her memoir, wanting her story to be a glimmer of hope to others
  • the woman prone to panic attacks, working on behalf of victims of incest, as someone who survived
  • the woman who concealed a dark secret at the time of her reign, she had been raped by an acquaintance.
I applaud all women of strength, the unexpected treasures of humanity who turn against the violence and openly embrace life, women who work toward and hope for world peace.

Rw

People Magazine's American Beauties: 80 Years 16 Oct 2000 Vol 54 No 16
TMJ4's Miss America: Terri Meeuwsen by Carole Meekins

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 7

The whirl of Christmas, the world of Christmas,
There’s both magic and madness in the air.
Rich Perrotti, Christmas 1985

8 ... 7 ...

Santa and Elf in the Sleigh Pulled by Reindeer
In a whirling
of Christmas
magic, crayon
Santa in sleigh
transports me to Dec 1988 – designing our own greeting card, sharing a child's drawing, an image created by our daughter-artist age five.

Within days of sending our first homemade card we will officially become a family in a late-December wedding. Mom, Dad, Daughter and Son, young lives woven together, ready to celebrate this one on our own. My parents' house is no longer the place we call home for Christmas. For the first time we stay in, opt out of traveling, not-so-gently breaking my mother's heart.

Our plans for a first quiet Christmas Eve, a new tradition, are dashed when my soon-to-be-mother-in-law calls ... she is
alone tonight, could we visit, for 64 miles is not that far to go?
I begrudgingly bundle the children and we set out in the cold, drive miles north for a visit, then more miles back home.

This sounds like a Christmas giving story, though it is not.

In the days between then and our wedding, a plan is revealed. My soon-to-be-sisters confirm and agree, that multiple Christmas Eve invitations were extended, their mother turned down not just one, but three! Did SHE choose to manipulate, fake HER distress? In betrayal SHE pushed me away with both hands. My heart hardens in anger! Her scheme takes a toll.

I did not learn to love her. I mourn this today. All those years wasted! This cannot be the way.

In the pain and the hurt I discover a key: I choose Hope and the Strength to love differently.





Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what 
God's angel commanded in the dream: 
He married Mary ... He named the baby Jesus.


Rw
.
24 Dec 1988 Weather low 19┬║ with winds gusting to 28 mph

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Victoria's Shameful Secret

My love-hate relationship
with Victoria continues.

I find the pretty pink bag
quite alluring, especially
when filled with lip glosses,
scented butters and scrubs
... gifts beautifully fashioned
in this-size-fits-me.

V's shopping-mall-bigger-than-life-store-front images and
only-in-your-dreams-does-any-body-look-like-this commercials,
leave me less than enthusiastic.

... designer products grace the shelves of top stores, proudly bearing certified organic labels ...  the billion dollar brand's sexy and sensual image is being threatened by claims that its bras, knickers and lingerie are made from cotton produced by children who are forced to work long hours for no pay more

V's secret revealed undoes me.

V's secret revealed gives me strength.

I invite women and men to be dangerous, to pray for change
in V's corporate heart and within our own hearts this Christmas.


Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay,
close by me forever, and love me, I pray!
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care
and take us to heaven, to live with thee there.

Away In A Manger


Rw
.
Read the response from Fair Trade here
Contact Victoria's Secret with your suggestion or Limited Brands including Bath and Body Works, Pink, La Senza, Henri Bendal
Public pressure changed others' corporate choices
Photo Credit

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 9


When Jesus saw him stretched out by the
pool and knew how long he had been there,
he said, "Do you want to get well?"
John 5:6



Good question. Do I want to get well?

I am a person who sometimes hangs on
and on and on and on. And, I am learning
to let go. By no means did this change
come naturally. Healing change within me
is a Divine Intervention.

I am a work in progress.



10 ... 9 ...

The final countdown to Christmas is upon us and there seems to be a compulsion, a greedy need to clutch tightly the traditions
of Christmases PAST, to demand a son and his wife abandon her family - or a daughter and her husband desert his - to put US first, celebrate Christmas like we ALWAYS did.

I am tired of the drama, the competition for affection, the way it pulls apart newly married couples, strangles budding relationships, pits our families against one another.

This Christmas, will we stop demanding a holiday as it ALWAYS was, bemoaning the absence of those we coerce and manipulate with our neediness? Will we choose instead to encourage those around us in every thought and word, celebrate this Miraculous Birth Day with love, hope and faith in Christ?

Will we will hear and respond to Jesus' question:

Do you want to get well?


Jesus replied, "Moses gave you this law because you are so heartless. But in the beginning God made a man and a woman. That's why a man leaves his father and mother and gets married.
He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer two people, but one. And no one should separate a couple that God has joined together." Mark 10


Rw
.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Radical

"Three weeks after my third trip to underground house churches in Asia, I began my first Sunday as the pastor of a church in America... Dimly lit rooms were now replaced by an auditorium with theater-style lights. Instead of traveling for miles by foot or bike to gather for worship, we had arrived in millions of dollars' worth of vehicles. Dressed in our fine clothes, we sat down in our cushioned chairs." —David Platt, Radical

This guy's words are crushing me. I am on page 28.

Much within me wants to put this book back on the shelf, return it to the library in my friend's house, simply shut it and forget. Yet, I find myself wanting to blog about it, to share the discovery.

At a time when many Americans are feeling the pinch of a sluggish economy and the crush of material holiday expectations, is there anything encouraging in blogging about this book?

Yes.

"... my model in ministry is a guy who spent the majority of his ministry with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 people who were actually sticking around and doing what he told them to do." —David Platt, Radical

Who are your twelve? Who will be the 120 people sticking around after you are gone? The lives you are touching with faith, hope and love?

Following after Christ, I am a young and impetuous apostle.

On Tuesday, seven women came together, bringing a full table of food - including 50 lbs of homemade lasagna - and baskets full of handmade gifts. In the lower level of a strip club, we hosted a Christmas celebration, shared a meal, shared our gifts. We talked and listened, laughed and prayed.

We are not trying to change the world, just our little corner, a handful of hearts and lives. Often it is our hearts and minds that need changing, an openness to accept gifts - like cucumbers from a friend's garden, or the $20 from the bouncer who simply wants to thank us in some way.

In the first 20 pages of his book, David Platt celebrates the simplicity of the dimly lit rooms, where people gather:
"... sitting either on the floor or on small stools, lined shoulder to shoulder, huddled together... The roof is low, and one light bulb dangles from the middle of the ceiling as a sole source of illumination.
No sound system.
No band.
No guitar.
No entertainment.
No cushioned chairs.
No heated or air-conditioned building.
Nothing but the people of God and the Word of God.
And strangely, that's enough."

In the crush of material holiday expectations and the pinch of a sluggish economy, dimly lit rooms bring to mind the simplicity of the Nativity - a simplicity which begs us to stop the guilty madness and focus on touching a handful of lives.

Faith. Hope. Love.

Who are the people caring for you, talking and listening, laughing and praying?

Who are your twelve this Christmas?

Rw
.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gingerbread Me

How would you describe symbolically through colors and
symbols your wellbeing? Create a figure by drawing an outline
of who you are. Fill in with colors and symbols.
"Spiritual Wellbeing"


Gingerbread Me? A Gingerbread Girl.
Her dress is a conscious choice,
my indicator: I am Woman and I am
a woman. I am a female who savors
long and layered cotton skirts. I am
enchanted by free-flowing movement,
the caress of softly swishing fabric.

The neon-crisp Grinch-green highlighter
is a most intriguing selection. Why didn't
I choose Gingerbread brown?





Since childhood, the fictional
character clenched most tightly
within me is The Grinch.






I attempt to give the Green Me some hair, floppy-pointy Grinch-like hair. The result is not what I'd hoped for artistically. It reminds me to share imperfection, the crumby broken gingerbread pieces of me, hurts mended together by icing.

Eyes. Open. Brown eyes. Big brown eyes. I mindfully consider the placement of the lashes, elect peripheral vision.
I choose to look slightly left
rather than face
straight on
my portrait-creator.

My politics, too, are quite a bit left of center. I am learning tolerance, moving toward seeing both sides. One day I will simply look up, politically disconnect altogether, give allegiance to my Creator.




Next is a small and simple heart.

A quick pink outline in the traditional location, following those rules of anatomy.

Thinking about The Grinch and the growth of his heart, I add layers of color and outlines of time.
In Whoville they say
that The Grinch's small heart
grew three sizes that day.

I find the pink marker, fill the emptiness at the center of my heart.





Hair. Long brown hair, shoulder length,
the way I see myself in this life.

Gray bangs for the current me,
the woman in her 'wisdom' years.

Who is this gray-haired woman?
I am not used to seeing her. Yet.

Sometimes, catching my reflection in
the passenger side mirror of our Jeep,
I am startled by my almond blossom hair.


Hands.

Arms open, in motion. I hug people often.

I just recently discovered that people exist who prefer not to be hugged.
Perhaps I hug people too often?
I may need to ask hug-permission?

A rule of anatomy, five fingers on each side, leaves my open and ready hands looking like stiffly awkward appendages.

Glancing at the drawings of my classmates, I am aware there is no mouth on Green Me and that a mouth exists in Me.

I find the green highlighter, swish a smile broken. A mouth with a gap.

After decades of causing hurt with my cruel words, I am trying to do better, hanging in the gap for a moment,
thinking before I speak.

No shoes. This is intentional.

I am often un-pedicured and barefoot beneath my feminine flowing skirts.

Time is up. I share my drawing with my classmates.

The woman on my right responds, "You have a beautiful heart!"

My brown eyes brim with tears.

Rw
.

Animation Credit The Grinch

"Emotional Wellbeing" part of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Curriculum for Laity, copyright 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gingerbread


Recently, I was given the opportunity to take part in a
pilot program, a mental health and substance abuse curriculum, a training for lay volunteers.

The opening activity
in "Emotional Wellbeing"
was simple and elegant,
something worth sharing here:

1. How would you describe symbolically through colors and symbols your wellbeing? Create a figure by drawing an outline of who you are. Fill in with colors and symbols.

2. On the sides of the figure, indicate the ways your spiritual being is nurtured.

3. Show/Share with one or two people your Spiritual Being picture.

4. Discuss how we are all unique in our spiritual needs and development.


In the beginning,
my drawing
looked like this...


... and tomorrow
I will share the
symbols and colors
that fill her / me.

Gingerbread Me


Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights... 
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, 
that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
James 1:17-18

Rw
.
"Emotional Wellbeing" part of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Curriculum for Laity, copyright 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Candy Girl

... the 'burbs, and no one strips
unless they're taking a bubble bath
.
—Diablo Cody, writer

I first met this young writer on a chance encounter via an episode of Oprah. I witness the edited-for-maximum-drama exchange between her and her father; his reaction to the airing of her story on national television; her transparency in sharing her personal journey, writing Juno while working in the strip club in Minnesota.

The young writer won my heart that day with her eloquent courage in front of the cameras, face-to-face with her father.

Like the 'mama bear' Allison Janney in the Juno ultrasound scene, Diablo Cody is a woman who speaks her mind with clarity and honesty. She doesn't go out of her way to be unkind, but she's not taking any crap either.



Juno is a movie every daughter needs to see.


Diablo Cody's new movie Young Adult opens Dec 16. Seeing it may required a trip to the big city. I'm afraid this one won't be playing anywhere remotely near my little town.

grew up believing God keeps his eye on us all
—Paul Simon, My Little Town


Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
 
excerpt A Prayer of David Psalm 17:8

Rw
.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cascading Light

Talk with me about everything, letting the Light of My Presence shine on your hopes and plans. Spend time allowing My Light to infuse your dreams with life, gradually transforming them into reality.
—excerpt Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Amid the scurried promises of Christmas gift-wrapped with ribbons and sprinkled with pine needles, imagine discovering a gift-box glittering with light, the treasure within: the ability to infuse your dreams with life.

This Christmas, like a child of wonder, will I lay on the floor in the dark living room under the lighted tree? Will I whisper my hopes and plans? Will I ask God to light my dreams?

How exquisite your love, O God!
You're a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.


video by Humanity Healing Community


Rw


holiday blessings sent by Nico
.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Whiteboard

pray mend accept
journey believe

dream touch
change nourish
create inspire

understand balance
heal grow laugh play

question transform
comfort meditate

care remember live

hope bless trust love

life wisdom
truth grace
serenity faith

peace joy
light spirit
eternity

every wish is possible

compassion
gratitude
challenge
surrender 
encourage

take great delight
Zephaniah 3:17

anointing with blessings
Psalm 23:5

pinnacle of creation
James 1:16-18

a gentle whisper
1 Kings 19:11-12

a whiteboard
dimensions
changes

in me?

Rw

.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The River

The river flows onward without clinging to where it has already
been. It does not look back with regret the path it has taken
and carved. It has no fear of the inevitable upcoming boulders.
If it comes upon a DARK hole, it fills it up without dread.
It moves toward something bigger than itself without the worry
of losing its control or losing its identity. It merges with the
vastness elegantly and gracefully, becoming one, contributing
to the larger body all its power and energy.
—Nico, Interruption

Strength: the river has taken and carved

Courage: the river fills dark holes without dread

Beauty: the river merges elegantly and gracefully

In all the words written in the blogs of my Trust 30 friends, this passage is the one I find most compelling. Nico's words quietly inspire me to be more like a river, to flow in life with strength, courage and beauty.

In her words I hear not the rush of rapids, but the quiet power
of deep moving water - a river capable of carving a grand canyon, a river patient enough to embrace life one day at a time.

Strong.

Courageous.

Beautiful.

Life-Giving.

Healing.

Water.


Wherever the river flows, life will flourish—great schools of fish—
because the river is turning the salt sea into fresh water. 
Where the river flows, life abounds.

Then the Angel showed me Water-of-Life River, crystal bright. 
It flowed from the Throne of God and the Lamb, 
right down the middle of the street. 
The Tree of Life was planted on each side of the River, 
producing twelve kinds of fruit, 
a ripe fruit each month. 
The leaves of the Tree are for healing the nations.

Rw

.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Indicators

This morning, on our kitchen counter, there was a to-go cup from Mancino's restaurant -- a signal that one of my guys had lunch there, probably the reuben.

a tiny orange light indicates a Hot Surface on the stove top

a ding from the Chicken
signals that dinner is ready ...
... or perhaps that time is up

an empty cardboard tube
will soon hint at the need
for a new roll of paper towel
some years ago, the guys
acquired a Mood Indicator,
a gift for us girls

a tree for me

an apple for daughter/sister

that apple didn't
fall far from the tree
-- Dad


Much the same way fruit appears in an orchard,
God brings gifts into our lives:

—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.
We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Galatians 5:22 MSG

love
joy
peace
forbearance
kindness
goodness
faithfulness
gentleness
self-control

Gifts.

As indicators?

Rw
.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

3-Minute Retreat

Its been two years, maybe longer, since my friend Mary and
I discovered the 3-Minute Retreat. I can't speak for Mary,
yet I feel the need to confess:

the 3-Minute Retreat 
usually takes me 
more than 3 minutes.

The prompt I cherish most is the invitation to breathe, to be intentional, to slow down before beginning this time with God. Pausing my life, event momentarily, often changes my course.

It was within 3-Minute Retreat that I first discovered this:

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.

When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, "So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?"

1 Kings 19 MSG

Elijah isn't afraid of God, he is afraid of people.

Me too.

The 3-Minute Retreat caresses the scars of my childhood faith, wounds associated with the traditional religious architecture:

Catholicism.


In Fellowship, a diverse multi-denominational community with a generous sprinkling of Catholic-Baptists - if such a thing exists? -
I am healing, growing and forgiving, appreciating human diversity in faith, meditating, thinking and praying.

Today, I am thinking and praying about adding 3-Minute Retreat to the resources offered on our website for the women in the strip clubs. I am moving cautiously, talking about it with God, asking people for help.

Will you try the 3-Minute Retreat? Let me know what you think?

Rw

.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sarah Kay: B

you will put the win in winsome ...
... the star in starting over
—Sarah Kay


hear her spoken word poem

B



.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Spacious Place

On Sundays a few friends come together before worship to study the stories within the Bible. After our session on David, I write:

"Thinking about ... the idea that God is closest to us in times
of promiscuity and brokenness... the most intense moment of parenting is not my pride in the honor student marching steadily toward graduation, but in a wordless embrace given the young woman experiencing firsthand a crushing failure..." —Rw

As I reread the words, there is potential for confusion. I am not remembering my children, but looking back on my own life from a parental perspective, intimately experiencing the heartbreaking realization that God is Father... Mother... Parent to me.

"He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
[the LORD] drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me."
2 Samuel 22

A youngest boy, the runt of the family, tends the sheep. A boy, embraced by God, becomes a king. The Story is resplendent with unlikely heroes like David.

Wallowing in brokenness, wantonly seeking to displease, my inner rebel raged at God for decades. The rebel within me was and is given the freedom to journey and discover and question.

In exploring my story and The Story, I discover Jehovah-rapha, The Lord Who Heals. In the white-hot pain inflicted by my own rebelliousness and crushing failures, God forged an iron trellis within an unlikely heroine, a place where compassion now grows.

God's love is a spacious place. God rescues and delights.

Jehovah-rapha delights in me.

Jehovah-rapha delights in you.

Rw


The Story is all about ... God’s great love affair with humanity.
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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cookie Bake

Leading up to the sugar-infused holiday called Christmas, the women in my family gather together to bake cookies, each woman bringing favorite doughs and ingredients.

Oreo cookies

cream cheese

almond bark

mixed together in my kitchen



join a sisterhood of sweetness multiplied

mothers

grandmothers

nieces

cousins

aunts

daughters

sisters



Mary didn't waste a minute. She got up and traveled 
to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight 
to Zachariah's house, and greeted Elizabeth. 
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, 
the baby in her womb leaped. Luke 1 MSG


Rw
.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Inspired by Kimberly

Coming in the front door,
my husband brings our mail.
He calls to me up the stairway,
"Are you expecting a package?"
I am not, yet I travel down
a flight of stairs in record time,
my classical conditioning
to December-arriving parcels
embarrassingly apparent.

Even before the package is opened, my fingers discern a book within the padded envelope. Inspired By Tozer emerges.

My heart beats recognition.
Anxious hands flip open the TOC. Searching eyes scan for her name. I turn to page 173.

There must be a work
of God in destruction
before we are free.
We must invite the cross
to do its deadly work
within us. —A. W. Tozer

As I read DEADLY WORK, Kimberly's reflection on Tozer's words, the word 'menagerie' jumps from the page.

I am transported back in time, surrounded by an intimate group
of four strangers. I am inspired by the playful artistry of Kimberly's hair, kissed by handfuls of tiny butterfly clips. As she unfolds her story, I am awed by her tenacity in the face of evil, blown away by her faith in God.

I am inspired by her strength, the heroism within her humanity.

So here, desperately clinging to the freedom of the unfurled sail of God on the stormy sea of life, I howl above the crashing waves...
—Kimberly L. Smith, Inspired by Tozer

Like a butterfly clip of titanium, in Christ she is uncrushable.

Rw

an intimate group of strangers
Kimberly L Smith
Photo credit: Clips
.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Disk Cleanup Utility: Grace

A new month prompts a morning routine. Sitting down at my computer, I examine the icons on the desktop, move some into categorical files and others to the trash. With the desktop nearly bare, I access the system tools. Run file cleanup, registry cleanup, defragment. I restart my computer and write a new restore point, record it on my calendar, just in case.

A new month prompts the intentional cleanup of things unwanted.


"The Disk Cleanup utility is cleaning up
unnecessary files on your machine."


I could benefit from a cleanup utility that gracefully removes unnecessary files from the desktop of my spiritual life.

Becoming the woman my Creator intended is about examining the woman in the mirror, honestly revisiting my past, asking for forgiveness, then accepting God's grace.

So very often, I take the first three steps, then skip essential fourth one. I hold onto satan's whispers of diminished worthiness and impaired morality, punishing myself, refusing to let God make me whole...

This is not what God intended.
Integrity

Mistakes and unhealthy choices, cruel words, apathy and disbelief, regret. Though I seek God's forgiveness, I get bogged down in my own arrogance, insisting that files of past mistakes be saved, and saved, and saved, until my spiritual desktop is clogged with chaos, the inner computer of my heart too fragmented function.

God offers a cleanup utility:

Grace

There is one thing more I need to do:

forget what is behind me

I have not yet received all of those things.
I have not yet been made perfect.
But I move on to take hold of what Christ Jesus took hold of me for.
Brothers and sisters, I don't consider that I have taken hold of it yet.
But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me.
I push hard toward what is ahead of me.
I move on toward the goal to win the prize.
God has appointed me to win it.
The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself.
Philippians 3:12-14 NIRV

Like the apostle Paul, God is expecting me to move forward too.

Rw
.


photo credit: cleanup icon