Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Seeing What Needs to be Seen

"...but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."
                                                                                         ~ The Apostle Paul

There is a liberty that comes from having right perspective.  In a world full of broken people various circumstances and relationships are often like so many pieces of shattered glass fanned out about a walking path-- annoying at best, dangerous at worst.  Our perspectives are quickly skewed by that which bucks against our ideals.  We see according to our natural tendencies.  The glass is half full, half empty, or missing altogether.  It is in this way we see what we want to see.  We measure another person's worth, and even our own, based on limited vision and ignorance.  We are Pollyanna or we are jaded.  Either way we are too often wrong.  There is a liberty that comes from having right perspective.

How can you know someone who is so flawed is also so beautiful? It would be so much simpler to act on only half-truth.  Pick a side and align your loyalty accordingly.  Ah, but we are not all good and all bad.  We were born in sin and in the Imago Dei at the same time.  Such contradiction finds its existance in every single soul.  And so you pray to see what needs to be seen.  When you see the whole truth -- not just the part you are hard-wired to respond to based on your personal tendency-- you align with the whole truth. You see with truth and grace.  And so you don't put limits on the future of a up-till-now wayward child.  You humbly give your difficult boss the credit for her great ideas... because she's hard to get along with, yes, but she's brilliant too.  And when your friends tell you they would have walked out a long time ago?  You stay.  

By God's grace you see past the obvious and through the veil.  This is mystery, and it is miracle.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.
And the Lord-- Who is the Spirit-- makes us more and more
like Him as we are changed into His 
glorious image."
     2 Corinthians 3:18


Friday, September 11, 2015

Writer's Block Undone

I'm here.  At our library's patio table, in 90 degree heat, listening to the jolting ruckus of construction trucks on the street below.  It's been something like three years since I've blogged.  The kids are inside gathering research for history papers and debate.  They are big now, the kids.  A lot has happened in three years... too much to catch up on.  We will just have to begin again with where we are now.
I know there's a lot I'll write about in this space.  This was a good space to share who we are and what we're up to.  I had good reasons to let the blog(s) sit dormant for a few years.  Someday I'm sure I'll share more about that right here in this very space, but today is not that day.

What I will say, is that story is important, even when it's just my own.  It's taken me a long time to understand that.  It's taken a long time for those words not to feel indulgent and self-absorbing.  Each of the last years since moving out West, I have been blessed to be able to go back East and visit with my family.  Some of the most precious times of my year are funneled into the short spans of time I have gotten to sit with my daddy, in matching rockers, on a back porch overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains.  We usually have our Bibles, devotionals and coffee on a table inbetween us.  Sometimes we don't even talk much.  It's communication at it's finest.  I have learned many great truths and habits of character from my dad.  I could fill pages and pages with all he has taught me.  Maybe someday I will, but for now I will leave you with this:

It's never too late to start.

Daddy on the porch.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Just Another Manic Monday

It's Monday, but not manic.  :)
We try not to do manic here.  The kiddos are entrenched in the assignments and studies of the day.  I am getting ready to power down the laptop and power up my arms and legs and brain.  There are writing assignments to edit, spelling rules to reinforce, history lessons to read, math the check (and then re-check)... you get the picture.  There is laundry, toilets, counters, floors, etc. to be cleaned.  There is a multitude of paper work and books needing attention.  There are appointments to be made.
It's just stuff.... not worth putting into words, but since I don't facebook, I thought I'd share mundane, needless, personal details right here!  

But the real reason for posting this morning is to count my gifts.... out loud.  :)

~ the friends and family that have loved on my mama during this time of uncertainty and trial.*

~ a pumpkin candle that really does make the whole kitchen smell like pumpkin

~ sickness that is short-lived, but long enough to remind me how blessed we are

~ being absolutely certain of what I do NOT want to do

~ the way He woos me to Himself, when.... why should He?

~ a new church.... maybe not THE church, but a place where we are learning about...
~ the possibility of being in missional community with others
~ what it might look like to focus outwardly
~ how the Holy Spirit can show up even if the music is way too loud

~ how beauty on the inside SO determines what is seen from the outside
~ how you can ride that truth in a lot of different directions all to the same great end

~ God's imagination

~ figuring out what's worthwhile 
~ figuring out what's not
~ knowing all the figuring comes from Him:  Thank You Lord!!!

~ how counting blessings nurtures contentment
~ how that is an awesome universal truth
~ Jesus, the Source of all truth
~ the privilege of showing others all of the above

~ how we can't be good at everything, but at just a few
~ how knowing this simplifies so much

** Please continue to pray for my mama.  We discovered her cancer is stage III.   She will begin chemo in a few weeks, most likely.  Please pray with us for complete healing, and that she will find the Lord faithful to meet her every need.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

For When You Break the Mold

Fitting in has never been easy for me.  I've just always been a little weird.  Really.  It's not something I'm proud of.  I've fought it time and again.  And I imagine, actually, that quite a lot of folks feel this way.  I may be weird, but as it turns out, not so original.  

So what do you do when your not like everyone else and you wonder if that's OK?

I'm not a teacher, and this isn't gospel, but it's what I have to offer:

Be in the Word.  This might seem obvious, but I want to qualify it:  Be in the Word alone.
I'm not suggesting anyone stop studying scripture corporately.  Heavens no!  As I wrote last week, we can't forsake the fellowship of believers.  That includes learning together and gleaning from those who are smarter than you.  BUT... at the end of the day, you've got to wrestle with His truth alone.  You've got to read it as you would read it.  You've got to ask the Holy Spirit to correct your blind spots and you've got to trust that He can speak to you directly, because the people that are generally smarter than you are specifically wrong about one thing or another at some time or another. 

Confess and repent.  As you come to terms with those aforementioned blind spots, confess them,  and apply all the scriptural instruction you can find in changing your course.  Sometimes we break the mold, not because we are unique and special, but because we are just. wrong.  If we can trust the Holy Spirit to convict us, we can trust Him to help us change.

And consider this:  You are no longer a slave to sin.  That doesn't mean you will no longer accomplish the devil's work, but he is not your master.  You've been freed not just from something, but
for something.

Accept that He created you as you are.  Live in peace, not with your sin, but with yourself.  You are not your sin.  Yes, you can separate yourself from it, and when you do, what is left is who you are.  Accept that person.  He loves that person very, very much.  He sacrificed much for her.
And there is no inner you and outer you, there's just you.  It would be gnostic to say otherwise, so don't.  Perhaps if you have trouble finding beauty in yourself, you have a skewed understanding of beauty.  Perhaps you should ask Him to broaden your understanding of goodness and beauty and what it really means to have been created in His image.  If you've been shooting fiery darts of insult towards your own reflection (either physical or spiritual), you've insulted God Himself.  You've also proven yourself to be self-absorbed.  Go back to step 2, and confess and repent.

Finally, in the words of Elisabeth Elliot:  Do the next thing.
Get on with your living, let go of what you wish was different about you or your life.  Live the cards your dealt with joy.  You can't live 100 different lives, you only get one.  Spend it well.  If you're a fighter do it righteously and with courage.  If you are a peacemaker, make peace!  Don't wish you could fight better.  If you are short, be happy for the opportunity to see people at your level and for the built in humility that such stature affords.  If you're tall, look out towards the horizon and see what others can't and lead them where they couldn't go without you.  Whatever you do, don't wish to be doing something different from what you're doing now.  Change does come, and sometimes, even dramatically.... but it is accomplished through a series of "next things".  So do what is in front of you, and be who you are right now.

You don't have to be comfortable in a mold, but you do need to be comfortable in your own skin.

And here's counting some of the many blessings come my way:

~ my mother coming through surgery well, and recovering
~ my sisters surrounding her with love and care
~ knowing so many prayers were lifted up on my sweet mama's behalf

~ Holy Spirit direction that doesn't always feel like 'direction'

~ watching my girl steal home on a slide to win the game for her team

~ the most beautiful, warm September weather I've experienced while living in Oregon

~ having my children close to me

~ learning to see with His vision
~ learning to let go 
~ learning to avoid old rabbit trails 

~ books to educate
~ books to entertain
~ books to ponder
~ books to initiate change

~ the chance to love

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Feel at Home in Church


Yesterday marked the I-don't-know-how-many-eth Sunday in our quest for a church home.  We've been to tiny churches and mega churches.   Expository vs. Topical.  Take communion in your seat or in the back-- corporately or  as individuals.  Worship with full bands or one guy with a guitar.  Some have been missionally oriented while others are quite insular.  Kids come in or sometimes they aren't allowed at all.  Almost always, they are certainly not there for the duration of church.  Goodness, who could possibly expect them to sit through an entire service?
It's feeling like a long, long road.

Did I mention, we're not looking for perfection?  We really aren't.  Everyone says that.... 'there's no perfect church.'  We say it and we mean it.  Our years are earning us something in regard to the wisdom  inherent in that admission:  There is no perfect church.  This isn't our first rodeo.  Greg and I have learned that what many regard as glittery is often not made of gold.  Usually it's more rather like an epoxy surface that once scratched chips off into plastic-y slivers all over an otherwise perfectly clean floor.

And there are these places of weak, synthetic reinforcement in all churches.  Places where the gold ran out and they're trying to cover it.  It won't last and it eventually wears away, exposing the lack underneath.  This is, I've come to believe, inevitable on this side of eternity.  The prideful human spirit cannot withstand the divulgence of it's own great poverty.   And so it is with churches, making right all of those naysayers who warn that our churches are filled with hypocrites.  It is true.  Perhaps it takes a hypocrite to know it is true.

So with all of this, thank God our hope is in Jesus.  Thank Him that we can and should choose to assemble together despite the imperfection of it all.  Thank Him that it's possible to get our medicine still from such a dirty cup.  Thank Him that he shows us that even on our first day, somewhere new, we really do fit in as each congregant wears the same matching garment of filthy rags.

Thank Him that despite our misgivings and judgements,  reality prescribes we really do feel at home in church.

counting more blessings:

getting the Nod to write again
the lick-my-lips excitement I feel about this

the help of a woman I've never met to do things I've never done well

school that is hard, where we learn much

libraries like candy stores

living adventure through my dear Sweet T

*cancer surgery (it can be removed!!)
a Mama that is trusting Him
a sister that will be there
another sister bridging the gap
the way they and we love

him and me in unity

 the sight of my boy riding his bike down the road to buy his own lunch

forget what they say:  there are plenty of Christians in Portland
His church is dirty and messed up,  but alive and kicking

holding onto my kids for a full church service
knowing how right that was

* Please be praying for my mama.  Her cancer surgery is this Wed., Sept. 12th 11:45am EST.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What's going on around here?

Cade's Cove, TN-- Summer 2012

Summer is winding down.
These are the days of high temps, blue skies, sun dresses and bare feet.
Habitual discipline has fallen lax.
We let ourselves sleep in, make messes without cleaning them up, and eat popsicles and ice cream in the same day.
Sometimes, in the evening, I sit out on the deck, up in the trees, reading Spurgeon with a glass of bubbly pink wine.

It sounds good, and it is, but it doesn't tell the full story of this summer.

Early in June we flew back east to spend cherished time with family and friends.  At that time, there were challenges we were facing back in Portland that were requiring some big decisions to be made on our part.  
I remember sharing some of it with my daddy while we sat on rocking chairs looking out over the smoky mountains, as we do each summer.
I don't even remember what he said about it all, but I remember feeling better just in sharing it with one of the smartest people I know.  The way he nodded and listened and looked me in the eye.
  He shared my burden, just like he'd done so many times before.

After the mountains we played on the beach for a week with life long friends.
My shoulders finally in comfortable slump.

Upon our return we had the pleasure of hosting beloveds from the South.
First our dear Christoffersens, then our sweet Kirsten.
Our time with them all was perfect and we loved every minute.
It also afforded us more time away from what had become our routine, thus providing us some distance that helped us see more clearly how the Lord was leading us to change some things.

For starters, we will be joining Classical Conversations this school year.  
Some that know me will know that this was not an easy decision.  
I do not consider myself a classical educator.
Nonetheless, we feel the Lord's prompting in this change
 and are grateful for the opportunity.

With much prayer and some anguish, we made the hard choice to leave our church of the last 3.5 years.
Being transplants from the South, this was our only local family.
We'd witnessed and gotten to be a part of God doing great work there.
Nevertheless, the Lord, in His grace, made it clear that we are to go in a different direction.
We are praying and seeking out where our new church home will be.

And it hasn't been just my life changing.
My sweet god-daughter is growing up.... fifteen already!  My nephew is driving, my other nephew is going to college at my parents alma mater.  My oldest niece in engaged.
We have a dear one struggling with Lupus and medication side effects.  
My sweet T's mama is battling breast cancer (and she will win they say!), and it is hard.
Dear friends leaving us to follow the Lord to Iowa.  What a hole they leave,
 but what a great adventure ahead of them.
Our precious friends-like-family leaving the only home they've known, in the South, to travel north,
 and make a life in New Jersey.
My brother losing a job and gaining a new one.
Friends struggling with irresponsible renters, school and career choices.
A grandmother needing help and facing big life changes.
A sister with new challenges in work ahead of her.
Friends, missionaries trying to raise support to get back to the work they need to be doing in Japan:
planting churches and tsunami relief.
Kids going off to college.

And a mama, my mama, beginning her battle with colon cancer. *

Yes, summer is winding down, and with the change of seasons we will continue on, 
just with a different backdrop.

Quote for the day:
Calendars can con: there are really only as many days left as you actually really live. In the end, everyone ends up at the length of their lives — but only a few live the whole width of a life. ---  Ann Voskamp

*  My mom was diagnosed 3 days ago with colon cancer.  She will have surgery to remove the tumor Sept. 12th.  We are hopeful for a full recovery.  Please pray!  

LYMYWY (Love you, Miss you, Want you),

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Baby, you're a firework!

today you turn 12. 
Twelve years ago you turned my world 
upside down.
Nothing has been the same since.
Born on the 4th of July, 
you were my 'firework'...
in every way!

You amaze me.  Really.  
I can't believe someone like you
came from someone like me.
You are the best of your daddy and me,
and then some.

You're mine, but you've always been 
God's first.
That's why you're

When we named you, we knew then
what we know now:
you are destined for great things.

So I dedicate one of your favorite songs to you today, 
because Katy said it just as well as I could have:

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

Cause baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth

Make 'em go, oh
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst

Make 'em go, oh
You're gonna leave 'em falling down

Happy Birthday, Buddy Boy!
I love you much, more and most (so there!) ;>

PS.  Here is a special video wish from John McDonald of John's America Bike Tour
(please consider pausing the music at the bottom of the page before watching video :))