Bent but not Broken

Bent but not broken
Fields of corn
Bowing
Silently waiting the future
That only He knows. 
(rlg)

We looked out solemnly as our car passed miles and miles of fields on Sunday.
Saturday's storms (rain and wind) had clearly taken their toll.
The next morning, my pen met paper.  Once again words formed themselves.
When I laid down the pen, I reread what I'd written, 
I realized  these were more than words about fields of corn.
Meanwhile in our back yard, plants compete with weeds for space.
It's too wet to do anything about it. 
These are puzzling days.
Days for reflection.  Days for prayer.  Days for trusting.

This Morning

...outside our front door...
Rain falls.
Quietly.
Unrelentingly.
Like tears from a broken heart.
God's.
(rlg, following SCOTUS decision 6/26/2015)
...a field of tears/one of many here in NE Indiana...

Why Not?

Why not?  This lamp shade was collecting dust inside the house.
I may center it on the stump and place the bird on the stump in the background,
but I think I'm going to leave the shade outside to add interest to the shade garden we're developing.
(I know I "stole" this idea from SOMEone.  Just can't remember who.)

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said:  'It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.'"  (Jim Jamusch)

In the end, "History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new."  (Ecclesiastes 1:9, New Living Translation, Bible)

Yes.  I like this better...

Three To-Dos

On what would have been travel-home day of my Gethsemani week (see previous post), 
my husband and I spent a couple of hours at Barnes and Noble. 
 I settled in with a stack of magazines, my journal and four-colored fine-tipped pen.  
I ended up taking a few photos which I've already posted on another blog
 and recorded three (yes, only three) "to-dos" in my journal.
Placing this bird on this stump was one of the three--
the only one accomplished so far.
In commenting on my prior post, Terra thanked me for my honesty about following
and not following my plan. To this I replied:
"Had I made no plans, I probably would have never lit a candle,
would have pigged out on sweets, prayed and journaled less than I did etc."
While I hope to get to the other two items I jotted down at Barnes and Noble,
I'm ahead of myself just by having accomplished ONE of the three!
At least that's the way I look at it.
Reminder to self:  Don't be discouraged by not accomplishing EVERYTHING on my lists.
***
Oh, and while I was out there placing the bird on the stump,
I pulled a bunch of weeds and called in the reinforcement (that would be my husband)
to cut off some branches that had been damaged by the storm the night before!
Commit your work to the Lord,
    and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

Season of Second Chances

For a second year in a row, circumstances prevented me from
retreating at the Abbey of Gethsemani.  Though disappointed, I decided to implement an alternative while remaining at home--
A Faux-Gethsemani experience.

The plan, recorded in my journal, included:

1.  No desserts - focus on fruit and veggies
2.  Read Bounds on prayer
3.  Pray
4.  Journal
5.  Serve others in love
6.  Candle daily
7.  Record blessings each day

Today - four days into my "experience"- I am lighting the candle for the first time.  I had desserts one evening, have fallen asleep almost every night a page or two into Bounds, have prayed little, journaled some, served feebly, and recorded blessings once.

In spite of my sporadic and interrupted efforts, I have a sense of being guided gently into a Season of Second Chances.  This, the title of a (secular) novel I finished prior to my Faux-Gethsemani week, has emerged as the theme of my week. 

Monday, on what would have been Travel Day, I received news of Elisabeth Elliot's death.  Many of her quotes have passed my computer screen throughout the week, contributing to and solidifying my passion to serve Jesus Christ faithfully.

"I have one desire now - to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord,
 putting all my energy and strength into it.” Elisabeth Elliot


Then I read this from the pen of  Ed Stetzer  "The comfortable do not create movements. Instead, they originate with those who are desperate, demanding something different. Movements come from those who become more committed than they are now...We all need a cause bigger than ourselves, which can drive us to action with a holy dissatisfaction. I'd say that when women and men allow their faith to be tamed by the world, they end up with a 'nice religion' uninterested in the big issues like global evangelization, world poverty, and injustice. That's why I love passionate people. We need more, not less of them.  Christianity needs unreasonable people who are uncomfortable with the status quo and unwilling to be content with the current mode of life and church. We all need a cause bigger than ourselves, which can drive us to action with a holy dissatisfaction."   





This morning as I lit a  candle for the first time this week, I did so with the awareness that today is the last full day of my Faux-Gethsemani experience.  I'm thankful for all the "second chances" I've had in my life.   At age 66-and-a-half, I borrow Elisabeth's words and say with enthusiasm and expectation "I have one desire now - to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord,  putting all my energy and strength into it."  So help me God!

 Unreasonable
Uncomfortable
Driven by a holy dissatisfaction
SO thankful for another Season of Second Chances

Revival in Room 403

 Nancy Leigh DeMoss just tweeted: "Safe in the Arms of Jesus. Elisabeth Elliot, 12/21/26 - 6/15/15" ~ Elisabeth Elliot, a woman whose example of constancy & faith has been of GREAT influence in my life, though I've never met her personally.....

It's kind of a surreal experience to read and digest this news as I sit beside the bedside of my mother while she sleeps. If I calculate correctly, Mother is the same age and also suffers from dementia. (I believe Elizabeth Elliot lived with dementia for over 10 years.)

An album of Fernando Ortega (YouTube) is playing in the background.   "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."  I'm having a sort of personal revival in Room 403 of the Special Care Unit.   How graciously the Lord is ministering to me.


(And it's only the first day of my Faux-Gethsemani week.
Explanation of that to follow in another post.  Maybe.)

Pleasure-Packing

My sister - our mother
 Thanks to my sister who came to spend  a few days with my parents,
I have some extra days to "spend" leisurely.
Since my husband and I had not "properly" celebrated our June 5th wedding anniversary,
we've spread out our celebrating over these days.
 We began with an afternoon at Quiet Corner Tea and Coffee Room--
  a rather remote place, but not so far away.
 It was relaxing; the food was satisfying; the get-away enjoyable.
 Another morning, a group of ladies met  for coffee and "catch-up".
Following that, my husband and I enjoyed pizza at Pizza Hut.
By the time we finished, the rain had stopped and it had dried up enough
that we were able towalk the paths at the Extension Garden and enjoy its beauty.
 As usual, we took home some ideas to incorporate in our own flower beds.
 In between excursions, we did just that - worked in flower beds and mowed the yard.
Last night we watched an interesting episode of Around the World in 80 Gardens.
The Nek Chandigahr (India) was particularly fascinating!
 Oh, and I'm reading, too  This book is an interesting one.
This quote about one of its characters intrigued me:
"If she had but a moment, she filled it with value."
I want to be more like that...
***
I'm not sure what today will hold, but we're brainstorming.
We're trying to pack in as much pleasure as we can around the regular responsibilities
of our daily lives.  In another day or two I will return to spending time with Mother,
but I think I've learned (or AM learning or RE-learning)
something about intentionally packing pleasure
around the "regular responsibilities".

Profusely

Anthony Bradley recently tweeted:  "Among the best weapons to fight against depression include committing to a life of gratitude and experiencing real connection in community." I passed this wisdom along to a fellow traveler recently with my OWN exhortation that both of us endeavor to  enter the new day with humble and profuse gratitude.

Then I quickly googled profuse to be sure I'd used the word correctly.  It's NOT a word I use frequently in conversation or writing.  I found these two definitions:
  • 1. Plentiful; copious.
  • 2. Giving or given freely and abundantly; extravagant. 
Yes! I used it correctly! I am humbly and PROFUSELY grateful today.  Worthy?  No.  Grateful?  Profusely!  I can't begin to describe my awareness of the abundant, extravagant grace of God to me throughout my life--and today.  And my awareness falls so short of its actuality! 


Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!
(Chorus of "Wonderful Grace of Jesus")

Yes and No

I pass this sign frequently these days.
Every time I read it, I think to myself, "Yes and no."
I know what it's saying.  I even want to LIKE what it says!
But then I remember, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."  
(Jesus in Matthew 5:48)
Maybe the sign should read, "Progress TOWARD Perfection"?
***
On a lighter note, note the Progress toward Perfection 
on this little stand we found while garage-saling last Saturday...
  
My husband works wonders!
See more "wonders" HERE.

I Think I Get It!

Reflection--morning walk
My reflections started with this:

 "Many are concerned about radical Islam when they should be even more concerned about complacent, nominal Christianity."  (Burk Parsons)


 I couldn't get it out of my mind the entire day!
Then the next morning, THESE two:

“In American society most people only know of either a mild & nominal or a separatist & legalistic Christianity. Neither is the real thing.”  (Tim Keller)


 “The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us [nor, I would add today, postmodernism or materialistic consumerism or visceral sensualism or whatever].  All these are dangerous but not the primary threat.  The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit.  The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.” (Ray Ortlund quoting Francis A. Schaeffer, No Little People, 2003)

I think I'm getting it! 
The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God,
 not in the circumstances surrounding them.”

Frank Boggs & Others

 OTHERS
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.
Refrain
Others, Lord, yes others
Let this my motto be
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee.


One album cover among MANY I remember...
My travel time to be with my mother and dad is frequently spent in prayer.  For others.  Seems there are SO many needs, large and small, among my friends and acquaintances.  Our small community has experienced several tragic deaths recently.  The nursing home where Mother resides is full of folk and their families who carry heavy burdens. Our small church family has their share of challenges, disappointments and stresses.  Then there's my family...

As I drove the now-familiar route this morning, this song from the past kept playing in my mind.  I remembered ALL of these words and came home this evening to look up the other verses.  I remembered the deep baritone voice and the name of the singer. Tonight, his name escapes me...

I DO remember other long-play albums my mother used to play on our large, stereo unit that stood in the living room of the parsonage in which we lived  Speakers placed the music strategically throughout the house.  What a legacy I have in the strong messages of those great songs!  The Revivaltime Choir, an album or two of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and their children, Helen Barth, The Blackwood Brothers, Bill Pierce and Dick Anthony, The Melody Four and Sixteen Singing Men, The White Sisters, George Beverly Shea...these are just a few singers  whose albums come to mind.  

Frank Boggs!
I just remembered!
Just in time to title this post...

Charm in Alleyways

Last weekend included an outing to a nearby town where we walked pleasurably
along streets lined with lovely old houses.
Occasionally, we chose to wander through alleyways that looked particularly interesting.
As a result, I posted this photo on my facebook page with the comment,
"Never overlook the potential for charm in an alleyway."
Thinking it over some more, I would add -
"Never miss an opportunity to create some charm (or beauty) in an obscure place."
It's a lesson I want to put into practice today.

Look for the beauty;
create the beauty.

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--
especially to those in the family of faith.  Galatians 6:10

Shadows

Early evening on our front porch.


My Heart Goes After Shadows

 'My God, how far I am from acting  according to what I know so well! I confess it, my heart goes after shadows. I love everything better than communion with You. I am ever eager to get away from You. Often I find it difficult even to say my prayers. There is hardly any amusement I would not  rather take up than set myself to think upon You. Give me grace, O my Father,  to be utterly ashamed of my own reluctance! Rouse me from sloth and coldness  and make me desire You with my whole heart. Teach me to love meditation,  sacred reading and prayer. Teach me to love what must  engage my mind for all eternity.' (Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman)

I frequently visit The Breadbox Letters.  I seldom leave without being challenged or inspired by the quotations and meditations Nancy has culled from sources rich in truth and piety.  This prayer she recently posted expresses MY heart's desire SO well--a heart so prone to "go after shadows"... 

Kind Of....but Kind of Not

Hanging on the basement staircase wall at my parents' home
are old letters from three of their grandchildren - missionaries' children.
This one caught my eye a couple of days ago.  
Especially that last sentence....
I chuckled to myself as I thought how many times I have been
"kind of excited about going but kind of not."
This kind of "tension" is what keeps God's children sharp--
useful in the world and dependent on Him, I think.
Apparently the Apostle Paul thought so, too

And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ whether I live or die.  For to me, living means living for Christ and dying is even better.  But if I live I can do more fruitful work for Christ.  So I really don't know which is better.  I'm torn between two desires:  I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.  But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.  
(Philippians 1:20-24)

The Timing is Perfect

Three chapters in, and I'm blessed!  
***
"If we have surrendered to the fact that Jesus was telling the truth,
then the world in which we live is really a exciting place.
It's a place of romance and adventure, a place of promise and possibility,
a place of confidence ad joyous expectation.  
But more than that, our world is a place of love."
"Procrastination is perhaps the worst, the most damaging failure of all."  
"In the final analysis, the real challenge of Christian growth is personal responsibility."  
"What the world longs for from the Christian faith is the witness of men and women daring enugh to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, wild enough to be burnt in the fire of love, real enough to make others see how unreal they are."
"Jesus....Let Your Word not shine in our hearts but let it burn..."
***
Manning's style is intense and intimate; personal and probing.
It's difficult to be satisfied with less than more in one's relationship with Jesus 
after reading his words.
This is not a new book and contains reflections from Manning's early life.
I picked it up awhile ago at a thrift store (I think) and sat it aside to read at a later date.
That date is now.  
As usual, the timing is perfect.





Mother's Day

 The candles are ready - tied with a bow -
 for the children who come to the front of the auditorium
tomorrow for the kids' talk at church
to take back to their mothers.
The talk will go something like this...
   


Our moms take care of us, help us with homework, fix meals, read to us, what else?  They teach us, take care of us when we get sick, and some moms go to work too! Our moms do SO much! They are strong and busy and fun.

 But sometimes... sometimes... moms get tired, don't they? Sometimes moms get headaches, or they get sick, or they just don't feel good, right?  And sometimes moms have tears, don't they? They can be happy tears, like at a wedding. But sometimes our moms are just very sad and they cry. Then what do we do? Hmm...

Well, I learned something in the Bible about Jesus. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He still showed how He cared for His mother. He told His disciple, John, to take care of His mother when He went to heaven. Jesus really cared about His mother.

 I learned something else in the Bible about Jesus.  The Bible says Jesus would never snuff out a smoldering wick. The part that we light is the wick.  It's easy to put the candlelight out, but Jesus would never do that.  He is careful and gentle with the candle's flame.  e is gentle with a person who is tired.  He is gentle when people are sick and gentle when someone is sad.  And that's what we can do when mom is tired.  Be gentle with her!  When she is sick, we can give her a gentle hug or gentle words.  When she is sad, a gentle gift can help.  

I want to give you each a gift for you to give to your mother.  It is a brand new candle.  Sometimes a candle with a gentle, soft smell helps moms feel better!

"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, 
till he has brought justice through to victory."  Matthew 12:20

Writing a Song a Week #3

Writing a Song a Week #3
♪ I wait for the Lord; my soul waits and in his word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning ♪ (Psalm 130:5-6)