Monday, November 29, 2010

Numbering the Multitude #412-433

"But godliness with contentment is great gain"
                                                            1 Tim 6:6

Ain't that the truth!?  Let's count....

my son, carrying big boxes of food for them in need
him growing up before my eyes
my eyes that get to see it

my daughter singing her heart out without a care, praises to Him who hears
the sound of "mama" from her lips
my ears that get to hear it

the scent of my lover wrapped up in sheets
the promise of his early morning kiss
the times I catch him noticing me

the willingness a child has to enter into the unknown
that they don't enter timidly, but rush in with wild, joyous, excitement
that I want to be more like that

a sister standing by her brother
she counts the cost
she does it anyway

that just because most people do it, doesn't mean we have to
that we find a better way
and we go it

them who learn to count their blessings
teaching me to see what I didn't see
recognizing what is in my cup

and it doesn't cost a dime

holy experience

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spit it out

Care to spit out your thoughts?

This is quite literally the challenge our worship pastor left us with as he closed his sermon yesterday morning.  He had placed little Dixie-type cups in the backs of the pews throughout the church and then asked us to hold them up.  As the congregants studied those little plastic cups in their hands, he explained:

Saliva.  Think about  how many times in the last hour you have swallowed down your own saliva.  You don't think about it at all.  What if instead of swallowing it, you spit it out in the cup?  Gross, right?  What if at the end of the hour I told you to drink up all the saliva you had collected in the cup?  Double gross.

Now what if instead of the cup holding our spit, it held our thoughts instead?
What if we examined our thoughts, like we would that saliva, and make a rational decision about whether or not they were fit for consumption?  What if instead of taking in the junk.... we toss it?

Pastor Steve talked about  how we examine ourselves each morning in the mirror and work on ourselves so we can look the way we want to.  We give a lot of self-care to our outer shells.  How often do we pay that kind of mind to our thought life.... to our perception of reality?

Romans 12:2 (NLT) says "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is."

He pointed out how this verse doesn't speak of transforming our emotions or our circumstances, but our minds.... the way we think.  It's amazing how much is at stake in just the way we choose to look at a thing.

For his final challenge, Pastor Steve's pointed to 2 Cor 10:5 (NIV), "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.

So spit it out and see if it passes this test:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." Phil 4:8 (NIV)

And so in the interest of renewing my mind in this way, I continue to join Ann and the rest of the Gratitude Community in counting the blessings.


God's Word... oh how He speaks!
Holy Spirit making all things possible

new faces from far off places

how love can be comfortable and exciting at the same time

unexpected hugs

long-distance phone service


creativity of little people
creativity of big people
that there is no age limit on making cool stuff

a happy daddy

fallen golden leaves the size of your head

muddy, blackened-bare puppy feet romping through the woods

fog that softens twinkling city lights and blurs the moon
and makes me glad to be home

history making, touchdown-scoring Hail Mary 
this guy deflecting
this one being in the right place... at the right time

the work of the saints


southern drawl transported fiber-optically

my minds eye, and 
the vivid things i see

holy experience

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The sun was setting low over the houses across from ours.  The street lights would soon be on,  illuminating the thousands of tiny, flittering bugs that seemed to spawn from those lamps.  The air was thick, like it always was.  Hot and thick.

The evening meal was regular, maybe it was soup with ice berg lettuce and little pieces of chopped tomato served on paper plates.  He was there that night.  His presence always welcomed, yet always heavy like the air around us.  The rattan and metal chair balked at his shifting weight.  As his feet shuffled under the chair, positioning his legs just so, the pain would be better.  He would eat voraciously.  Every last bite of that iceberg lettuce gone.  He'd wipe at the corners of his mouth with napkin first.  Then came the handkerchief for his nose.  Then he would speak.

He bent at the waist, leaning over table.  Thick, rough fingers curved in rest a top the worn glass as if on piano keys.  His burnished skin shone in the dim light of candelabra bulbs.  As usual, his thick silver hair was not a strand out of place.  And in his dark, smiling eyes I saw something new.
I was still a girl really, but old, and old enough to know what the knowing looks like.

He recounts the story of the prodigal son from the Bible.  With lips pressing, then parting, his head tilts and his brow creases deeper.  His thick, brown fingers tap the glass with growing pressure as he is connecting the long ago story with something now,  recent and deeply hidden.  He struggles with the things he cannot put to words.  And never had I seen into his heart like this.

"He's chasing after us, like the father and that son.... the prodigal....  we run from Him and...   He   runs after   us."  he chokes it out with the first tears I can ever remember him shedding.

By some standards, he was already an old man, but I still a child.  I remember thinking my greatest prayer answered.

"Yes Daddy.  He does."

The twelve signal systems

Diane Moore spoke at our church recently.  She is the host of Parent Talk Radio here on the west coast.
She spoke of what she termed the 12 signal systems.... a term and idea she does not own and credited to someone else, though I sadly did not write the man's name down.  Google is failing me as well in endeavoring to credit this man.

The 12 signal systems are really 12 ways of communicating and they can be ranked from least to most effective, though all of them are powerful ways of communication.

Below the 12 are ranked from least effective (read here also 'believable') to most effective:

12.  Verbal (speech)
11.  Written (symbols representing speech)
10.  Numeric (numbers and number systems)
  9.  Pictoral (2-dimensional things)
  8.  Artifactual (3-dimensional things)
  7.  Audio (use of nonverbal sounds and silence)
  6.  Kinesic (having to do with movement)
  5.  Optical (light and color)
  4.  Tactile (touch, the sense of 'feel')
  3.  Spatial (having to do with space)
  2.  Temporal (utilization of time)
  1.  Olfactory (taste and smell)

 It is amazing the amount of communicating one does without ever opening her mouth or picking up a pen or typing on a keyboard for that matter!

It is an eye-opening thing to think about the bottom half of that list, and what am I saying with the touch, space, time and olfactory stimulation that I employ daily, hourly and even by the minute?

Frankly,  I am found wanting.

Oh Lord, may my touch be frequent, soft and calming.
Help me not to claim space but share it.  Bend my will, dear Lord, so that I might give my time more than I protect it.
May my words and speech be like the sweetest honeycomb and a fragrant aroma to You and to those You give me.  Even while I feed their spirits in this way, teach me too, to feed their bodies and senses with sweet, savory, and satisfying tastes and smells.
Help me know when to light a room and when to darken it.
Make me to move more slowly and more in sync with Your Spirit.
Temper my tone... may it too, be an expression of Your sweet love.
Make me wise in the things I keep... may they too, reflect the hold You have on me.
Teach me to keep picture records of Your goodness be they captured on canvas or film or....
Help me not to confuse little with least.
May Your value on a thing, be it's proper measure.


holy experience

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blessings #376-387

Coming out of a week where I did not accomplish all that I would have liked, and facing a week that is full to the brim with lots of extras and feeling the temptation to power through, get 'er done, just make it to Friday night.  And knowing that's not peace, that's not what He's called me to.  What do I have to lose in the rush?  Too much.

So I take a deep breath, a pause, a moment to thank my Abba Father and know that if I will but lean into Him, he will take me through each task and reveal to me much mysterious wonder along the way.

my pastor preaching God's hard truth in gentleness
that he let God's word speak... he didn't step on any toes.... he let the Holy Spirit do that.

the Lord's loving discipline

the butterflies starting to emerge
the wonder in the children's eyes

the innocence of these little ones

friends taking initiative
a body of believers starting to look like family

a new children's director and the journey it took to bring her here
the old children's director who served so faithfully, so lovingly for so much longer than what was beneficial to her

Sally's words about contentment in this book
receiving something I didn't know I needed

holy experience

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Blessings #349-375

The Lord is good.  All the time.  His grace is sure and His mercy is new each morning.


Once again, no pictures...... and oh how the pictures could tell the story so much better than my words, but....

my boy carving his pumpkin by himself
me getting to carve my girl's

the delight of children at such simple things

a puppy that growls in his dreams... sleep growls.... too cute

my girl's amazement at the metamorphosis of her caterpillars
her drawings and note-taking for her nature book
all of it, every bit of it, being her idea

walking on rain slickened streets
the most vibrant of yellows, oranges, reds and greens against a dark, pearl gray sky

learning about the 12 ways of communicating
learning that spoken word is the least effective of all the 12
the written word is the second least effective
realizing the energy I spend in communicating is often spent on the 2 least effective
eagerly wanting to develop the other end of that list, because.....
the Holy Spirit does His work

new friends
old friends

having been here long enough for some new friends to become old ones
our two families trick-or-treating together for this third consecutive year
watching my boy gently guide his little 5 year old princess friend down a steep, slippery drive

our little family going out to the movies on a Friday night
being able to relax and enjoy a great movie without having to cover little eyes and ears (Secretariat)
having popcorn, candy and soda to share

a clean mammogram for my sweet friend
her knowing how much He loves her

a clean house

love that is stronger than misunderstanding or miscommunication


holy experience