Saturday, May 28, 2011

pondering bird songs

I was reading and praying through Henri Nouwen's With Open Hands on my back deck Thursday morning. I was in that place where you're wrecked inside from asking, "God is what I'm hearing what I'm hearing? I want truth from You and nothing else, ever!" I was quiet and still for a long time, so much so that a (real live) bird landed on the table right in front of me and SANG OUT so loud that it scared me half to death. The funny little thing was looking right at me, too! Then it flew away...

Later that day I was at church to lead my little group of women in our study on prayer and Nouwen's book, when my friend (the secretary) reminded me that she was holding something I needed to pick up. Oh, yes! My prize! I'd won a beautiful creation by the one and only Angela Statzer (whose arts/crafts can be purchased at The Sanctuary in Davidson, by the way). She'd left it there for me. I fell in love with it (pictured above) right away, and of course being a lover of all-things-music I had to find out what song she'd used. I could tell by the sheet music that it was a hymn but not one I'm familiar with. Got out my trusty hymnal - nope, not there. So I looked it up online, using what lyrics I could see, and when I finally found it I gasped - actually I cried - as I read these words:

God is love! the heavens tell it,

Stars above in brillance spell it,

God is love! rejoice and sing my soul;

All the hills repeat its glory,

Rocks and rills sing out the story,

God is love! O let the music roll!

Hear it in the laughing wind

That whispers through a tree,

Listen to its echo

In a robin rhapsody;

Glorious word, all nature's ringing,

Have you heard the song they're singing?

God is love! O praise Him, God is love.

God is love! O truth transcendent,

Message of His Word resplendent,

God is love! Its pages all proclaim;

Christ the Lord, the great Creator--

Heav'n adored, became our Saviour,

Born on earth to bear our sin and shame.
But a waiting wandring world
His grace and mercy scorns
In a Roman judgement hall
They crowned Him king with thorns
O what loss! all earth should note it
at the cross in blood He wrote it;
God is Love! O hear it, God is Love!

I believe Angela's bird and the bird on my back deck were both trying to tell me the same thing: Never doubt it, listen to its echo in a robin's rhapsody... God is Love!

Friday, May 27, 2011

I'll kneel down

cannot WAIT to go see these guys in Asheville - this is a new song not even "written" yet, I so hope they sing it - I could listen to it on repeat all day long....

pondering the prophets: there are no mere words

Been sitting in the prophets lately. Wondering what it must have been like for them to determine it was God who was speaking to them, decipher what exactly He was saying, and have the boldness to proclaim it to others. In the process I've found Eugene Peteron's introductions to the prophets to be especially thought provoking. Here are a few that most stood out to me... (click to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

solvitur ambulando

glimpses from my morning walking a prayer labyrinth

stacks of rocks are places I prayed...

water from a rock...

notes from my journal:

solvitur ambulando

the answer is in the walking...

the stack of rocks I built was in shadow

now it is in light

the rocks did not move

the light did not move

the earth moved

the earth moved and took the rocks (and me) with it

only the light is constant

all else is in process

solvitur ambulando

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

pondering His heart and His kingdom today

"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish."~Jesus

There's been a resounding theme in my ponderings lately: Jesus came to show us the Father.

He was not some caveat. He didn't come saying, "Well, God used to be like that but I'm like this, and whew! You better be glad because WOW was He ever mad!" No. It's been the three of them as One, in perfect Love and Harmony, ever and always. They wanted to share that so they created man in their image, and here we are. They wanted to redeem us, and so the cross and resurrection, sacrificial Love.

I cannot tell you how it changed my faith to realize that God was there with Jesus at the cross. Of course, how could He not be? I mean logically and theologically? They are One, are they not? The feeling of abandonment was utterly human and raw and real but it was not reality (any more than it is when we feel the same way). In the fictional work, The Shack, all three members of the Trinity have scars on their hands. The hair on my arm is literally standing up right now, just typing those words; it impacts me on a visceral level. I recognize that not everyone accepts this, theologically - it's certainly not what I was taught to believe. But I do believe it - I must. And it changes everything.

It. Changes. Everything.

I've always loved Jesus, but I haven't always loved God ... because I haven't always believed God loved me. Or liked me. Or wanted me. Why would I? It didn't breed intimacy and trust to believe that God couldn't stand the sight of me until I was covered in Jesus' blood, and that if it weren't for a robe of imputed righteousness He'd be pleased as punch to drop me into a flame of never-ending literal fire. Our friend Dan reminded me round a campfire last week, that John Lynch of truefaced ministries describes that warped view of God as Him wringing His hands up in Heaven saying, "Please don't pray the prayer, please don't pray the prayer, please don't pray the- ... oh, man!! Now I gotta save YOU?!"

If this isn't your background I'm sure this all sounds silly. But to so many of us, it's anything but, and even considering such things is life altering. What brought the change for me? I blame my kids. No, really; becoming a mother, experiencing a mother's heart, changed everything. It opened the door for me to first of all, officially doubt. Doubt it all. Start afresh. And then, to dare. Dare to believe Our Father is better-bigger-lovelier-truer-realer-holier than I'd dared to even consider before. And finally, to refuse. Refuse to ever .... ever ... see Him as anything less than good.

Well, ... so what? What does that look like? Well, to be relevant for today, I haven't believed in a rapture-to-take-us-away-from-all-the-bad-people-so-God-can-finally-blow-them-to-bits-while-we-party-with-Jesus in years. I'm free to interpret those scriptures differently (along with most Christians around the world and across the grand course of history). And yet, when people like Harold Camping make their predictions, there is still a little bit of that scared brainwashed kid inside me that wonders, "Did I pray it right? Did I mean it? You know, just in case..." I genuinely feel that panic inside for a split second and when I do, I'm sad - so sad - for people who relate to Him from that perspective.

Who haven't tasted and seen that He is good.

That He loves us.

That He'd never, ever leave us behind.

If that had been His heart He'd never have come for us in the first place. But He did come for us and He will always come for us. In The Princess Bride, Wesley says, "Hear this now: I will always come for you"; a beautiful visual of God's relentless pursuit. If skepticism (religious or otherwise) leads you to disregard all this as too good to be true, I simply invite you ... taste and see. He loves us. Jesus said Our Father is like a shepherd who won't give up until He has that last sheep in His arms, so snuggle in close and feel the joy of His heart.

In doing so, you can let others debate whether or not Jesus will rapture us away from here or come to establish His kingdom on Earth or take us for an up-and-down-ride on some elevator in the clouds. It won't much matter to you one way or the other, because, by abiding-breathing-living in Him, you will have entered the Kingdom of God today.

Monday, May 23, 2011

pondering serving from weakness

I sat down, after a morning of vigorous-and-much-needed house cleaning, with much to ponder but nothing to say.

Then I clicked over to the sarcastic Lutheran and I realized, in wonder anew, that God was listening to me all along.

A taste to whet your appetite:

God reaches again and again into the graves we dig ourselves, continues to reach into our failures and yank out new life: just as God brought forth the universe from nothingness and water from a rock and babies from barren wombs and a church from a bunch of forgiven sinners. So don’t be afraid of your deficits, but rejoice in the spaces where you have nothing to offer, for this is the very canvas on which God’s best work is shown forth…just wait. I promise you this.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

pondering orientation

I just finished an amazing book, Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin. Recommend 100 times over. But be warned: if you're looking for litmus test answers to closed-ended questions, you'll be frustrated. And rightly so (meaning, you should be frustrated because those questions are frustrating and not helpful). If you're looking to learn about incarnational Kingdom living, about reconciliation, about love lived out, by all means, read this book.

This book is not about trying to save gay people from their gayness and it's not about trying to convince Christian people that it's not sinful. It's not trying to do either. It's about reconciliation and it's about encouraging all people to come to know their Father's love - reconciled to Him, reconciled to one another.

It's beautiful. Truly beautiful. The author is transparent and raw and in doing so says things that I'm sure he catches a lot of flack for. And that's why it's so good. We have to be real with each other, in order to be trusted and trustworthy.

A couple of other things have made me go "Hmm..." on this topic lately...

The first, found and shared by my brilliant husband:

Tattoo of Leviticus 18:22, which forbids homosexuality: $200.

The fact that Leviticus 19:28 forbids tattoos: Priceless.

This is the kind of crap we're known for, folks. Seriously.

We're also known for doing this to people. Read it and let yourself feel the pain she so hauntingly, beautifully expresses.

How do we undo that? How do we earn the right to even say a simple "God loves you" when people use the same book we do to justify holding signs that say "God hates you". Is there any way around this divide?

Of course there is. And Jesus showed us what it is. Read Philippians 2. That's it. That's always it. All the time. Humility.

How am I trying to live that? I can't immerse myself in Boystown, Chicago like Andrew Marin. I'm a stay at home Mom with 4 kids. But I can read Stranger at the Gate by Mel White and put myself in his shoes. I can watch the It Gets Better videos, especially the one put out by the Pixar staff. I can force myself to set aside any - ANY - preconceived notions as I hear their stories.

I can watch it from 5:20-5:45 over and over.

And over again.

And cry with him. (I did precisely that)

There's so much I don't know. But I know some things. I know we are all sinners. I know He's particularly fond of sinners and that He's come to reconcile us. I know that is Good News! I know God wants each of us to turn our faces to Him in an unconditonal, "Yes!" and I know that as we do He guides, convicts, and teaches us, each of us. I know that in community with other believers, we grow and learn and sharpen one another. I know that the mark of our Love for Him is our Love for One Another.

All this informs the way I relate to others and the unique paths they walk. My friend who considers herself a former lesbian, who now lives a life of celibacy? I love her. I respect the change she made based on what she believes God has shown her, for her life. And my friend who is madly in love with her girlfriend? I love her. I respect what she believes God has shown her, for her life, and admire the way she lives generously, honestly, compassionately, showing others infinitely more grace than is shown to her in return. I love them both.

Some want me to insert my opinion into my friends' experiences. My judgement. They demand it, in fact.

But I cannot.

It's not in me.

I guess that's just not my orientation.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

pondering grace

I've got a lot rolling through my head ... waiting to put words to my thoughts. But I have to quote Dr. Beck today. He was writing about grace as it is related to a completely different topic than the one I'm pondering this week, but the truth is the same.
It's hard not to get into a fight about grace...Grace isn't natural. Grace is about the hardest thing you can do. It's damn near heroic... Grace is strenuous, backbreaking labor...We're not picking daisies here. We're talking about loving our enemies. And there ain't nothing easy about that.~Dr Richard Beck

Well said, sir. Amen and amen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

pondering practice for the big one

We have an explosive daughter.


And I am NOT talking about the one who is adopted. Nope, she's home bred and born. So what's the deal? Beats me. An observer once noted, "She has a lot of passion." (oh, you have no idea!) She also has the most tender spirit (this is the one who bawled like a baby when I told her the story of Noah's Ark - other kids were like, "oh cute! animals!" but not her - she was inconsolable because "all those people died, Mommy!") Truly she is full up with life. But it's hard to contain such a spirit within an 8 year old's life-skill-set and maturity level. In fact, sometimes it's plain impossible.

Tonight was one of those sometimes. Just a bad night. B-a-d. I credit my husband for staying calm and steady through attempts to help her with math homework. But eventually I stepped in and "called it", gently declaring that it was now time for her to go to bed. The explosion worsened, of course. Thank God this was one of those times we both remembered to be the grown ups and not let her push our buttons. (remember my post on labor breathing? well, there's that ... and wine. definitely wine.)

She begged for mercy. For another chance. But we were solid in our decision, and the realization of that frustrated her all the more. Picture an episode of Super Nanny.

So what does mercy do in such a situation? I wrote some time ago that I believe when the world says "you made your bed, now lie in it!" that grace says "skooch over" and crawls right in there with ya.

So ... I did that.

When I went into her room I noticed that she'd taped a poster to the wall that had her name on it, a drawing of herself with a horrible face, and the words "Wanted: Dead!" Nice. So we were to the self-berating part of this drama. I didn't react except to say, "Well, that's a lie", then crawled up next to her. Her fitful cries slowly subsided as she snuggled in close to me.

Eventually, I felt her entire body relax. We just laid there breathing together for the longest time.

Then out of the blue she said, "Mom, do you really think cock-roaches were on the Earth before dinosaurs?"



We went from 9.8 on the Richter scale to a calm, thoughtful discussion about the possibilities of theistic evolution in less than ten minutes time.

Several more minutes of deep, slow breathing and silent cuddling were then followed by, "Mom, what's it like at college?"

Where were these questions coming from? And just how intense is that little brain of hers? I have no idea. But I know this.

If we'd screamed back at her, yelled louder than her, threatened her, if we'd "won" somehow because we're bigger ... I'd never have gotten to hear those questions.

And if we'd sent her to her room to sulk alone, slammed the door with all the satisfaction that brings and left her there to eventually cry herself to sleep ... I'd never have gotten to hear those questions.

And if we'd let her go on exploding all night long, wreaking havoc and piling up more regret for herself later, if we hadn't stepped in and said, "enough, you're done" ... I wouldn't have gotten to hear those questions.

Just as I was thinking she might actually be asleep, she got up out of bed. "Hang on," she said sleepily. She walked over to the wall, tore down the poster, balled it up and threw it in the trash can. As she crawled back into bed and snuggled in close to me, I smiled. This time - this one moment - I got it right. Every fiber of me knew that.

Please God, please let me get it right when it really matters.

I heard Wisdom say, It matters now. This is practice for "the big one" (or "ones"). How you respond when she's out of control because her math homework is too hard is what she will expect from you when the worst happens. Every time you walk through this cycle and come out again on the other side together, the bond grows stronger. It matters now.

So this is practice for whatever lies ahead. I think I get that. Oh, it's exhaustively hard, but the payoff is beautiful so far. Father, keep me ...

Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.
~Peter's first letter, the fifth chapter

what they talked about the morning after

I wrote, not long ago, about how crazy-in-love I am with my husband because he talks with the kids when important things happen. He does this because he understands its value, even if they don't seem to fully appreciate it at the time. Often they do. Other times they're like Doug in "Up", seemingly interested then... "Squirrel!"

So the Monday morning following the President's announcement of Bin Laden's death, he talked with them, and one friend asked if I didn't mind sharing what he'd said. I wasn't ready to talk in detail about it at the time because there was so much knee-jerking swirling around. Some joyfully thankful for closure. Others sharing jokes about what Bin Laden found when he reached the afterlife. Others arguing over whether our current President or former President should get credit (sorry... can't help it... you've been warned, here it comes: seriously??) Others sharing scripture verses to support a wide range of emotional reactions and to criticize the reactions of others. Still others already forming conspiracy theories. People shared things I wanted to "like", others shared things that made me want to stand up and shake my fist. But I resisted. I didn't trust myself to enter the fray. So I kept quiet.

Little over a week later, Bin Laden's demise is still the talk of the day, despite life threatening flood waters and ships sinking off of Libya and plenty other current news stories. But the reactions have waned enough, and I feel centered enough, to comment further.

With all that build up you'd think I have something hugely profound to say. But I really don't. The conversation was very simple. It started years ago when we made it a practice to talk with the kids about what goes on in the world. About where our soldiers are fighting and why and what they think about that. During the 2008 presidential election we had them listen to some of the better speeches by both candidates and we talked about issues, on a level that they could understand. So even though none of them are old enough to remember 9/11, they are aware of it and frankly have lived their entire lives in its aftermath.

Yet even with all that, they said something amazing over breakfast that Monday morning. When asked if they remembered what we'd talked about regarding 9/11, they said, "Yeah, some people accidentally flew planes into buildings and killed a lot of people". Wow. Accidentally. How beautifully innocent. And how dangerously false. As much as we'd love to raise these children to think this world is a utopia, we cannot. We dare not. That paves the way for history to repeat itself. (keep in mind this came from a fifth grader, not a five year old)

Eric calmly laid out how 9/11 was no accident, that it was planned and executed because of people's fear and hate. That one man in particular had plotted many ways to kill Americans, and that 9/11 was only one of those. Their faces looked as if they would cry. They don't want to believe that kind of evil really exists in the world.

I recall them talking about hate and about how fierce it is. Not to be coy, but Yoda really did put it best didn't he? "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." I hope that by talking with them this way about how evil hate really is - not with graphic images and overly emotional commentary that will frighten them, but with frank honesty they can understand - I hope this kind of talk sets a warning in their hearts.

Then he explained that since 9/11 we've been at war, and that one of the goals of that war was to capture or kill this one person. He reminded them that many soldiers have died and that many people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have lived in a war zone this entire time, and have suffered greatly because of it. Again, they were quiet ... and thoughtful ... and sad.

Then he told them what the President had said the night before. That Bin Laden had been killed. This, too, he stated calmly with no commentary of any kind, really - very matter of fact. His body language conveyed (to me) that he was satisfied it had happened but was more sorry that it had to.

And so how did they respond?

Well, I observed a subtle, slight sense of relief, as if they were taking in that this world was down one real life boogie man. But they didn't cheer and dance around the table. They were thoughtful. Their reactions came in the form of questions.

So, can the wars stop?
Can the mommies and daddies come home now?
Can the people in those countries live in peace?

Oh to be able to answer those questions with a "yes". But all we could manage to come up with was, "I don't know. I hope so. That is what we pray for."

"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"

Monday, May 9, 2011

more on Jesus' prayer from Greg Boyd

What do you know? I wasn't the only one pondering Jesus' prayer this past week. Greg Boyd hits the proverbial nail on the head, if you ask me. My favorite point from him,

there’s absolutely nothing fluffy, post-modern or sentimental about placing love above doctrinal correctness, for this conviction permeates the NT! Truth be told, we shouldn’t even contrast “love” and “doctrinal correctness” in the first place. We should rather regard the command to love as the most foundational doctrine of the church and thus the most important doctrine to be correct on!
And personally, anyone who thinks to live Love is fluffy and easy and for spiritual babies should try it. It's frickin HARD. Keeps us on our knees in confession and prayer. For to not say the ugly thing is easy. To not think it or desire to say it? That'll have our faces to the floor submitting to the Spirit again and again and...

But perhaps William Shakespeare said it best,

"It is a heretic which makes the fire,
not she which burns in it."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

pondering God's mother-heart

I'm a mother. I have a mother. And I have a mother-in-law (or "mother-in-love"). I also have a grandmother who has 5 children and more grandchildren and great grandchildren than I'd dare try to number (in the teens, each). So I know I speak for all of us with what I'm about to say.

This mother's day, my four children could sit at my feet all day long to chant and sing, "Oh mother, you are lovely and beautiful and radiant and good. We love you so, dear mother! Thank you for being so wonderful!" And I might like that.

But I'll tell you what I'd like more.
And what my mother likes more.
And what my mother-in-law likes more.
And what my grandmother likes more.
And I bet pretty much every other mother on the planet.

I'd like it if those four kids would get up from my feet, walk off, and go love each other. Laugh together. Help each other. Support each other. Respect each other. Confide in one another. Put each other's needs before their own. Rely on each other. Rejoice when one rejoices and mourn when one mourns.

That would (and does) mean more to me - infinitely more.

And for them to walk off from praising me and do anything less ... well, that would break my heart. It would be like all they'd just said to me was ... a lie.

I once asked God to show me what He was like. I needed desperately to know. The Spirit brought scriptures to my mind like Isaiah 49:15 and Matthew 23:37. Then She drew my eyes to a mother playing in the surf with her children. Enjoying them. Protecting them. Loving them. The Spirit whispered, "I have told you I am like this. And you understand this."

Yes, I do.

Now, imagine. Imagine God's mother-heart being blessed by the way we love one another. Not in a tower-of-babel homogeneity. But in a children-of-the-same-heart-what-Jesus-prayed-for unity.

The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they'll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they'll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you've sent me and loved them
In the same way you've loved me.

Father, I want those you gave me

To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.

Jesus' prayer, John 17

Friday, May 6, 2011

pondering labor breathing

Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." Then he showed them his hands and side.The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: "Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you." Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he said. (John 20)

I have the immense privilege and joy of meeting with a handful of women on Thursday mornings to talk about prayer as we read Henri Nouwen's book With Open Hands, then split off for an hour of solitude and prayer. It's a rich time.

This past week our discussion ended up around labor and childbirth. Not surprising, since two of them are expecting! We talked about how we are taught to focus during labor, to release fear and anxiety and be very much in control of our reactions.

Breathe. Focus. Breathe.

It fascinated me because I realized that we must do this daily! Not deliver babies, but literally labor to maintain control over our emotions and reactions. Certain moments in life - whether they are stressful or rushed or irritating or whether it's just me being a real bitch that day - whatever the underlying cause, there are overwhelming moments when I must focus and breathe through it. And when I do, it's better. Infinitely better.

Focus on what? On the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. On the Person breathed into me. On Love. On Light. On Life. On whatever is true, noble, just and pure. On the words that are hidden in my heart. On the joy set before me.

Living this way - abiding in Christ, walking in the Spirit - it's not about bootstrap effort, but it is intentional. In fact, I'd call it labor.

Funny, I think I've heard it referred to that way before.
That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. (Paul's first letter to Timothy)
This dying to self, loving of others, submitting always to the other, considering others better, and so reflecting God's Light and Love in this world ... as opposed to flying off, acting on every emotion that rises up at any given time, and therefor leaving wounded in my wake ... it's hard. I live in the hope that it won't always be hard, that a day is coming when Their image in us shines through unhindered. But even now, on this side, it's possible (on earth as it is in heaven). Everything we need has been given to us. Our Helper never leaves us. Like a labor partner, She holds our hand. And Her fruit is sweet.

Now breathe through it with me. Here we go.


now breathe




now blow it out ...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

national day of prayer

Throughout our history, Americans have turned to prayer for strength, inspiration, and solidarity.

Prayer has played an important role in the American story and in shaping our Nation's leaders. President Abraham Lincoln once said, "I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day." The late Coretta Scott King recounted a particularly difficult night, during the Montgomery bus boycott, when her husband, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., received a threatening phone call and prayed at the kitchen table, saying, "Lord, I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can't face it alone." Dr. King said, in that moment of prayer, he was filled with a sense of comfort and resolve, which his wife credited as a turning point in the civil rights movement.

It is thus fitting that, from the earliest years of our country's history, Congress and Presidents have set aside days to recognize the role prayer has played in so many definitive moments in our history. On this National Day of Prayer, let us follow the example of President Lincoln and Dr. King. Let us be thankful for the liberty that allows people of all faiths to worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience, and let us be thankful for the many other freedoms and blessings that we often take for granted.

Let us pray for the men and women of our Armed Forces and the many selfless sacrifices they and their families make on behalf of our Nation. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm's way every day to protect their fellow citizens. And let us ask God for the sustenance and guidance for all of us to meet the great challenges we face as a Nation.

Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those who have been affected by natural disasters at home and abroad in recent months, as well as those working tirelessly to render assistance. And, at a time when many around the world face uncertainty and unrest, but also hold resurgent hope for freedom and justice, let our prayers be with men and women everywhere who seek peace, human dignity, and the same rights we treasure here in America.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a "National Day of Prayer."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2011, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I ask all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our Nation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

until that completeness...

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, The Message

Monday, May 2, 2011

they say it best

Concerning recent events, mostly I feel like Richard Beck , a lot to say but nothing to say.

But since a picture is worth 1,000, I'll let Calvin and Hobbes speak a few of the words I can't seem to find.

my husband

Last night, just as I was about to head to bed, I started hearing the chatter that the president was about to make a big announcement. At 10 pm on a Sunday night. Odd. So I called for my husband. We turned on the TV. And we watched well past midnight.

This morning the alarm went off at 5:30. Getting up wasn't easy. Over his first cup of coffee, my husband said humbly, "I'm thinking about how to talk with the kids about this."

And with that, I fell in love with him all over again.

So many people talk around their kids. In front of their kids. Even at or to their kids. Too few talk with their kids. And fewer still dare talk with them about the stuff that really matters.

It was his first thought.

Their conversation over breakfast was beautiful. Their bottom line?

"I hope this means the Mommies and Daddies get to come home sooner."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

pondering babel and the rally to restore unity

A rally to restore unity - what a fun and needful idea. See more here.

As I pondered what to say about unity, I couldn't help thinking about the tower of Babel. How God purposefully kept us from being "one".

God took one look and said, "One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they'll come up with next—they'll stop at nothing! Come, we'll go down and garble their speech so they won't understand each other." Then God scattered them from there all over the world.
And yet Jesus prayed this:

Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life that you conferred as a gift through me, so they can be one heart and mind as we are one heart and mind.

These two passages, in light of one another, cause me to consider that God does not desire homogeneity. He desires unity. And they are not the same thing. In fact, the desire for homogeneity is precisely what kills unity. At least that's been my experience.

We attend a church that is purposefully heterogenous. Our parking lot is a good example. The fact that people with such diverse bumper stickers can all worship in one place at one time without killing each other is pretty darn impressive. And yet it's not perfect. Sometimes it's not pretty at all. Of course it's not. But I wouldn't have it any other way. If all the people who think differently than me walked out the door, the body would instantly lose its beauty.

The minute we decide to erect a tower composed of "people like us", we are in danger of Babel. And the minute we think Babel is what God wants, we are in danger of grossly misunderstanding Him, His kingdom, His heart ...

Homogeneity glorifies us. Unity glorifies God.

At least that's where pondering has led me thus far...

We were asked to share a Rally to Restore Unity sign in the spirit of the famous signs seen at Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity (which our family attended, by the way - GREAT TIME!). Here's mine. :)