Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do I Believe?

I am going to spend the next four Wednesdays of Advent integrating thoughts on this season of preparation with meditations from The Green The Complete Green LettersLetters: Principles of Spiritual Growth  A Clarion Classic by Miles J. Stanford (you might want to get “The Complete Green Letters” also available here) 

If you don’t have this on your bookshelf, I highly recommend it.  It’s a ‘Lifer’.  A Book that you will come back to over and over again.  My husband and I were introduced to it while we were in a year internship in Hungary through our Discipleship Leaders, ministering twenty plus years which began during Communism and have fed long and hard off of it.

 

The first chapter is simply ‘Faith’.  It is the foundation of all of Life. Of Advent.  It is impossible to please God without it…in this season or any other.

And I am asking myself, ‘Do I believe He is Coming?’ 

Will He ‘show up’ in the big ways I need Him to as we prepare to move overseas?  Does He care?  The deep burdens I’ve lifted before Him for years that remain in darkness.  Do I believe He is Coming?

Unless our faith is established upon facts, it is no more than conjecture, superstition, speculation or presumption.  Hebrews 11:1 leaves no question about this: “Faith is the Substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith standing on the facts of the Word of God substantiates and gives evidence of things not seen.” The Green Letters, p. 9

Do I have a ‘Simeon heart’?  An ‘Anna heart’? Would I be waiting for the Messiah in the Temple?  Would I be clinging to the prophecies called promises and that Jehovah is Who. He. Says. He. Is?  In the Spirit waiting, pleading to declare boldly that THIS MESSIAH will turn a Jewish world upside down as a ‘light to the Gentiles’?  Do I Believe He Is The One Coming?

Or is my faith in “the probabilities?”

Then, too, probabilities are the big temptation when it comes to exercising faith.” p.10

And what is probable about a God above all in all and through all becoming a tiny, vulnerable newborn baby?  What is probable when captivity and wilderness have been your journey?  Is a Messiah who will set the hearts of young and old free. everywhere.  probable?  What is probable when you carry the baggage of slavery and all your faith has been the doing?  Do I believe in the probable or in He who epitomizes the INPROBABLE?

Much of the work of “the Green Letters” is a compilation of the lives and faiths of many great witnesses.

Stanford quotes George Mueller on ‘faith’

Faith has nothing to do with probabilities. The PROVINCE OF FAITH begins where probabilities cease and sight and sense fail. Appearances are not to be taken into account.  The question is—whether God has spoken it in His Word.”  p.10

Yes. He has.  Over 360 prophecies foretell Him.  The Messiah.  Jesus.  Yet, where do I stand amidst the people who have heard of His coming?  I am oppressed and there has been 500 years of silence.  Can it possibly be true?  Do I believe He is Coming?

It has been a thirty-six year journey in this world.  From first breath endless gifts that speak of Him.  Provisions countless in the darkest of places.  Near homelessness.  Heartbreak.  Terminal Cancer (my mother’s).  Years living on Full Voluntary Support as a Missionary. Always I have been met with the wonders of His provision. care. Love.  Yet, now in this season, Do I Believe He is Coming?

Again, Stanford quotes Mueller:

God delights to increase the faith of His children. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God’s hands as a means. I say—and say it deliberately—trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats are the very food of faith.” p.11

The slavery.  The wilderness.  The captivity.  The silence.  Preparing the way for a faith big enough for a Messiah.  And so, too, the unanswered and the unseen as I carry these years-long burdens and walk a sojourner between countries are building a faith big enough for a God. Who. Is. All. The. Glory.

Stanford later quotes James McConkey on ‘faith’

Faith is dependence upon God.  And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends.  And self-dependence only comes to its end, with some of us, when sorrow, suffering, affliction, broken plans and hopes bring us to the place of self-helplessness and defeat.  And only then do we find that we have learned the lesson of faith.” p.11

I am a hard-hearted Pharisee who trusts in the good I do and will make my own way because God hasn’t shown up in my way.  The. Way. And. Time. I. Want.  I am a Samaritan Woman who has given herself to every available thing. Dreams. I. Dream. My. Own. Desires. Yet, layer by layer as I wait and ask, when all darkness appears to have won, the heart of hearts can answer. Yes.  I Must Believe He is Coming.  There. Is. No. Other. Hope.

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Waiting is Hoping

An Advent Poem

stephanie and thanksgiving 180

Groping fingers

fumbling heart

in words and worlds

learned yet

have become

mine.

Espera.  Wait.

 

Beating clear

hears

and knows

what is

there.

Espera.

 

Stumbling steps

clumsy clouded

search deeper

yet for the

ringing running

Esperanza.  Hope.

 

Muttering 

journey through

what is

unknown

until finds

rest in

Esperanza.

 

Is this it?

Waiting is

Hoping.

Esperar es

Esperanza.

 

Beyond words

you speak.

Te Espero

Mi Esperanza.

AWA 11/30/2010

“The people walking in darkness
   have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
   a light has dawned.”

~Isaiah 9:2

For One Stop Poetry’s

One Shot Wednesday

and

Imperfect Prose[3]

If coming from Emily’s I write about how Advent makes me ask

Do I Believe He is Coming?…do you?


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Monday, November 29, 2010

Blessed Be the Feet that are Tied?

 

Blessed Be the Tie that Binds

~John Fawcett (early 1800’s)

Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like that to that above.

Blessed hymn. Stunning Reality. To dwell in knitted hearts of unity…we come to this earth fitted for it and it is as though we are unclothed when our hearts remain as singular strands.

But might I be so bold as to add another verse to this hymn? A preface, if you will, that flows from this verse in Isaiah:

‘”How beautiful on the mountains
  are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
   who bring good tidings,
   who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
   ‘Your God reigns!’”

~Isaiah 52:7

Something Like:

Blessed Be the feet that walk

Together in Gospel Truth

Who light the way far and wide

‘til darkness fades away.stephanie and thanksgiving 251

I am blessed to have been a bearer of good news many places, in particular in Hungary, Eastern Europe for one life-changing and course altering year.  In this year I experienced a knitting together of hearts and lives and spirits and feet as we passionately pursued God and His Great Commission to go into all the World.

The second and third verses so aptly describe what we were (and are) to one another—an ocean away from family and communities come before, so we become it all for each other:

Before our Father's throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other's woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

Mornings facing a week of gospel witness, spiritual warfare, homesickness, burdens that weigh more heavily in the distance from those we love—We took them to our Heavenly Father. Our. Life. Together. Our. Tears. Shared. Our. Burdens. Carried. Jesus. In. Us.

“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ.”

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘Life Together’

We pleaded for fruit in the lives of the broken young people we were daily encountering and rejoiced to see it come!  Our. Lives. Broken. For. Jesus. His. Life. Poured. Out.

Our fellowship was a sweet taste of Heaven and the ripping inside was excruciating when we ‘parted’ at the end of that year—each to a different state or country.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

stephanie and thanksgiving 312Last week, these hopes were realized.  My ‘little sister’ spent precious time in my home with my children and husband (she is also his ‘little sis’ as we were there together:).  First, came the interminable laughter that graced so much amidst reminiscing, then the immediate Auntie-ness our kids absorbing the kindred hearts shared, and then there was the praying and the seeking. of. Him. In. Jesus. Christ. Our. Life.

There was a sweet morning where we spoke the passages of Scripture we are memorizing and relished hearts that know what it is to. Be. His.  We look at one another and find our Home. In. Jesus.

We continue to pour out the burdens before the one We. Have. Seen. Work. At The Deepest. Levels. of Life. and Spirit. Praying. In. Jesus.

We are the ones who roamed a city with good news feet looking for those who needed Him.  Spoke stephanie and thanksgiving 264hundreds of gospel conversations into the lives of those who have never heard.  Saw broken, image-shattered girls find Life. In. Jesus. 

We’ve stood in His feet and pantomimed the work of the Holy Spirit when language barriers restricted. We poured the life of that Spirit into every encounter—when one was weak the other strong.  In. Jesus. We. Are. Bound. Our. Gospel. Feet. Tied. Together. To. Him.

Late night cookies baked to hold a lavish feast of our favorites of home for those who have never tasted of them. or of Him.  We hugged each other strong and kept the other on good news feet when we knew we were tired and weary of living and speaking Him.  Our feet bound to His. Gospel. To. Him. To. Each. Other.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

stephanie and thanksgiving 267We both remarked at many points that this is the sweetest of Fellowships we have tasted in this life.  Many beautiful friends and family, BUT THIS. To be tied. to Him. His Gospel. Walking Together. This is the stuff of Heaven.

And when we taste of Heaven, we want Heaven.  Oh, Yes, Jesus, Rend the Heavens and Come Down. But, please Lord, we’ve seen a world who needs You and we ask for more days to be. together. in this life. For Your Gospel.  In. Jesus. Our feet stay bound. 

She is there. I am here.  I, returning to the land where our feet were tied.  She. not sure. Life ahead. Becoming a Nurse. But our feet remain tied.

Maybe the ‘new’ verse goes better here:

Blessed Be the feet that walk

Together in Gospel Truth

Who light the way far and wide

‘til darkness fades away.

So we are then ready for The Day, The Well-Done-Thou-Good-And-Faithful-Servant Day:

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

“Until that Day, Lord, I pray, Bind my feet to Gospel feet all around.  May fellowship never seem right unless our feet be bound. In. Life. In. Gospel. In. Jesus. Yes, Lord, Bless This Tie.”

Joining Jen and friends at:

SoloDeoGloriaSisterhood

And Bridget Chumbley for  “ONE WORD AT A TIME: Fellowship…Blog Carnival”    


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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mor Mor’s Multitudes

greatdepression

counting for nearly

a century

she remembers

 

days when

duty called

and expectant

 

mama answered

but quit

the collecting

 

for others

and fed the

mouths given.

 

‘necessity the

mother of invention’

lived long

 

and creative

spun life

for ten

 

wee ones

mouthing Swedish

prayers all

 

through the

darkened days

now lives

 

in legacy this

one of

fourty-four

 

who raises

generation coming

in hundreds

 

amidst multitudes

of witnesses

called blessings.

AWA 11/28/2010

Written for One Shoot Sunday @ One Stop Poetry

This poem reflects the life of my Swedish Grandmother (Mor Mor) now ninety-seven.  She and my Pop Pop met while he was an officer in the Salvation Army. They served for a number of years and lived in very difficult situations with two young children and when she was cold with two wee ones and expecting a third ‘ringing the bell’ decided they couldn’t continue this work and raise a family.  So my Pop Pop worked from the ground up in a company and they raised ten children during the Great Depression and beyond in Connecticut and later Pennsylvania.  They gave thirty percent of their income to the church and various ministries including the Salvation Army…always the “first fruits”.  “Necessity is the mother of invention” was her favorite saying and she lived it—still does any chance she gets! 

I am one of forty-four grandchildren and my daughter is the 105th great- grandchild.  This list will keep being added to for at least a few more years.

My grandparents believed in raising a large family to love God and their world.  We are by no stretch of the imagination perfect, but the majority of us do live out this legacy and are committed to it. 


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Saturday, November 27, 2010

peace shamed the ghost

stephanie and thanksgiving 201
Curled in a ball
of spasms
unglittered
unpainted
undone.

Belly convulsing
heaving
where tears
were stuck
turning acid.

Soul jabbed
its own
and tormented
a girl who
groaned.

Last Christmas
with her
life-giver in
dark reality
spread.

As cancer
in bones
reared high
tethering in
steel.

Metal replacing
marrow
strength
absorbed
consumed.

Raging insides
calmed
at brave
fearless eyes
shown.

Peace shamed
the peering
now shrinking
diminishing
ghost.
AWA 11/27/2010

This is for thehighcalling.org’s  Random Act of Poetry
Noel Ghosts: A Christmas Giveaway
(note: as it is somewhat nuanced, for my friends and family who read, this poem speaks of when I was literally sick in my stomach—my stress response since I was a little girl--our last Christmas with mom, the same one we found out her cancer had gone to her bones and we were looking at months…)
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Friday, November 26, 2010

SWEET!…and I don’t mean the Pie

 

stephanie and thanksgiving 291

“What shall I return to the LORD
   for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation
   and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
   in the presence of all his people.”

~Psalms 116:12-14

Can I just tell you right now??!!

God is Good…ALL THE TIME!

and IS alive and IS at work…

in this crazy mixed up world,

He chooses to use broken us.

He IS bringing new life and it’s all Him…

I know it’s not me

and in this I glory!

(read on if you want…but I pray most, be encouraged at His amazing work in YOUR life as His beloved…oh and may you please, with me, desire only more of Him…)

I am writing this at the end of Thanksgiving Day. stephanie and thanksgiving 290

Leading up to this holiday which does many things to me, both from grief over my mother’s passing away and the missing of the so many to whom I have always belonged and am so far away from…it’s an ironic time.  When I ‘should’ be thankful, instead I am filled with a messy, hurting heart.

This year was probably the worst so far.  Circumstances made me feel alone and without home or place to be and it was very painful and nothing was what I would have picked.

And yet, in the Goodness that is God Alone it turned out to probably be the best Thanksgiving for so many reasons.

Here’s why:

In His amazing guiding way, I’ve been practicing the discipline of Thanksgiving with this Gratitude Community of which many who read this are a part.

Through this, I have been thinking of thanks in the hard stuff much more readily than before I began this practice.

In the midst of feeling raw and tears just below, well,…everything I gave this mess I didn’t understand to Jesus…man of sorrows…acquainted with grief…Who promises to carry it all…

And He gave me a plan.stephanie and thanksgiving 293

I knew I was to open my home to someone this year who had no where to be, no invitation…and offer myself, my family, my home as an offering of Thanksgiving.

I thought of a young man from church (amazing life journey…beautiful…without true family), and I shared this with my husband. 

A part of me was still holding out hope that God would give me what I wanted—some friend/family to invite us into their home.  Or even just someone to cook/prepare with to give me a sense of camaraderie when I felt none…but, another door was closed in this direction and I hurt some more.

But, this also confirmed the answer I was asking for…I needed to walk in this plan He gave me.

So, the next day, my husband was at our church and saw this young man and, yes, he did not have a place for Thanksgiving and he would come!

Instantly, my heart felt such a great joy…I could share God’s big heart, through loving food preparations and welcome to our home, with at least one other outside of my own family…this is at the heart of the practice of Thanksgiving—the sharing as the Pilgrims and the Indians thanked a God who had showered blessings on them all after a dark time.

As the day unfolded, this young man still coming, in the midst of preparing all of the dishes…turkey, stuffing, and a few others;) we discover that our neighbors are home.  They are from Morocco and Muslim and we just love them.

I ask my husband to invite them again, we had already, but I don’t know if they knew WE REALLY WANTED THEM!

He did, but believed that if I went over to them and talked with the wife then they would really know they are welcome.

I am resisting it and then remember this and this and another piece I have boldly written about God bringing new life in my tears, and think, “Oh Abby, you better NOT write another word, if you are NOT going to be following the testimony of it!!” I could smell the stench of hypocrisy overpowering those pleasant Turkey Day smells I was creating…

I also hear a piece of a song on the radio JUST THEN that is saying ‘if you show Jesus to them they will come to know him’ (this is the gist) and I am laughing because it is so clear!

So I go and invite and say ‘please, please come…we want you to be with us!’

And they come.  And I don’t worry about skin-filled potatoes or lumpy gravy or that I had burnt/smoked;) the sweet potatoes when I steamed them (reminding me of this piece) and say that the smoky flavor is kind of cool and so what that dinner will be 1 hour or more late than I had said.

And so we all partake of a meal {I } prepared, but it was really all of us.  I cooked the actual food, my husband sacrificed and blessed just being with our kids and our friends provided their presence and thankfulness at the invitation and our Good, Gracious God sang over all of it!

stephanie and thanksgiving 300We got our son’s Little People Mayflower and Thanksgiving set and read the story of the First Thanksgiving and shared in it together and talked about how our hearts need to be thankful…how much we miss if we aren’t…and oh, how much I would have missed if I hadn’t thanked…

My home, BECAME a hallowed cathedral of love, worship, and thanks brought about by the goodness stephanie and thanksgiving 303 and patience of God  and His heart for this world…

I have never come close to feeling as worshipful or blessed or FULL on a Thanksgiving Day…not with turkey and pie, but with Life and Love and Joy and Peace and Grace and Hope and All that He is…

stephanie and thanksgiving 304 It was all I could do not to break out in full blown praise…but I spared those who this might have slightly accosted;) and took that heart posture and offered some more of myself…and turkey and stuffing too:):)

 

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
   his love endures forever.”

~Psalms 118:1

stephanie and thanksgiving 306

AWA 11/26/2010

Thank You, Oh Thank You Lord… (#336-360)

-for surprises

-for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day

-for this Gratitude Community

-for Jesus, Man of Sorrows

-for bringing beauty from ashes

-for encouraging me when I need it most

-for joy in following You

-for smoked sweet potatoes

-for skin-in mashed potatoes

-for lumpy gravy

-for late meals

-for Little People sets

-for a young man all the more a part of our family

-for our dear neighbors

-for that First Thanksgiving

-for my husband…every day, all the time—THANK YOU FOR HIM!!!

-for your endless patience with me

-for opportunities to GROW UP

-for the sheer pleasure of being Yours

-for the confidence I have in You about future Thanksgivings that, hopefully, will be far, far away from home

-for mama in Heaven who smiles at all of this

-for provision for this food

-for a mama who taught me how to cook

-for a mother-in-love that I feel closer to, when I cook her recipes, and the 1000 miles’ gap is narrowed

-for being given the name ‘source of Joy’ that You bring to Life because You are You and make me, me!!!!

I’m adding these this Monday Morning! (#361-375)

-for sweet fellowship that marked most of Thanksgiving week

-for sisters with whom I shared the good news with Hungarian teenagers and lived and laughed and love in a year overseas

-for sweet ‘sister’ and ‘auntie’ who brought so much love, laughter and life to my family

-for a kindred heart that is pursuing He who is Worthy and encourages me so!

-for chances to labor together in prayer with her

-for the gift of presence…the sweet peace of just ‘being together’

-for a cousin who is an unbelievably special young man

-for a God who redeems it all

-for the Gospel that is changing Him and he is giving it all away

-for carrying mama’s heart who loved him so and singing over this life he now leads

-for all that the Enemy CANNOT take away…the victory IS NOT his!!!

-for the chance to be family and sister when he is understandably feeling as ‘the orphan’

-for his hugest of hearts that you can jump into and swim around

-for the speaking of Gospel to one another

-for sealing it all with loving intercession for one another!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Swinging Free

I push.  You fly.DSCN5168

And you are you.

And I am me.

You come back

smiles wide

bright inside.

Swinging Free.

Wings to soar

I give to you

Unreservedly

And we form

shouts of ‘jubilee’

as you sway

Swinging Free.

Hair up high

as I give you

all the energy

of love’s delight

and you give it back

with flowing laughs

Swinging Free.

Your eyes lock

to mine

expectantly

as I give the

loud ‘woo-hoo!’

and you come to me

Swinging Free.

I raise you high

and let go

slowly

reverently

you glide to

the other side

Swinging Free.

Swinging Free.

AWA 11/24/2010

Imperfect Prose[3]


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The Gift of Time

 

“You make known to me the path of life;
   in your presence there is fullness of joy;
   at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

~Psalms 16:11

My Dad’s family has this amazing tradition which they began quite a few years ago where they set aside a time each Fall and they call it “Gift of Time”.  They gather and commune as blood family but also as children of one Father.  They enjoy one another.  They share heart and life and ways of praying and then they intercede for one another. 

IOld Sugar Mill and Florida Fall 027t hurts my heart that I have been too far away to enjoy this time.  But, nonetheless, their value of giving their “time” which in its purest form is the gift of themselves is a rich reminder and blessing to me.

Time. Our world spins madly on its axis.  Hustle and bustle season is coming and we go here and there and rub shoulders with so many and to-do’s abound and gift lists grow, but who gets the “gift of our time” ?

My children teach me this so.  They do not know of the demands that send big people running out doors and into cars and all around towns, states and countries.  When I am with them they give me themselves.  They show me the unadulterated perspective of “the gift of time”.  And so often, their gift goes unnoticed and I run wildly on this treadmill of life and drag them along.

Can you hear this too? Your spirit saying, “Enough!”? Longing to walk in that freedom of what’s most important.  To offer yourself to those given to you and not the things you do or the stuff you give.  Just You.  And that IS the gift.

Friend who reads this today:  Will you fight to give this ‘gift of time’?  Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I have a big meal to prepare, but by His grace I am determined that all will be gift.  Heart will sing as I prepare and interruptions will be embraced.  I do not want to be in the presence of those most dear and yet not really there.  If they get nothing else from me, I want them to receive a very full dose of my time. of me.

Let’s pray: 

Lord you are the Gift of all Gifts.  You give us all we need from Your infinite resources and all You ask from us is the Gift of Our Time. To. Be. in. Your. Presence.  To receive from You.  You.  And as we receive You, we become like You.  And we become the ‘gift of time’ to others offering ourselves and the grace of Your presence as we commune with You and others in the midst of Time.  Time and Eternity meet, Oh Lord, may it be so for me and all who read this today and every day. 

In the Mighty Name of Jesus, who gave every moment of his Time. his Life. so we might live it to the full… I pray.  Amen.”

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Have You Found Your Happy Place?

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”     

~Matthew 5:8

DSCN5162

Definition of Happy Place:  A location; be it 1 square foot or 1 hundred or 1 thousand or 1 MILLION sq. ft. where you remember to take deep breaths and let the moment be what it is and offer all of the gifts it has and allow yourself to enjoy this blessed/happy life you have:):):)

DSCN5146I’m in a transition.  A HUGE, LIFE-ALTERING TRANSITION.  Do you hear the anxiety in my voice? It’s called packing up life.  Uprooting a family of little ones hubby and I and traveling, I mean wandering, I mean sojourning wherever the wind blows…or more likely obediently and joyfully following God’s gracious call on our lives.

One that will fill the next months with boxes and sorting, and more sorting, and head spinning cannot think straight even more sorting of all that we possess physically, emotionally, spiritually and hanging onto only what we need—or desperately seeking to, at least.  We’ll probably call several places home for days, weeks, months as long as it’s where we need to be and we are together.  And then, it is our glorious hope DSCN5150and prayer that all will line up for us to fly over one big ocean and unpack said necessities in a Life we have been preparing for all of our lives…

And you had better believe that in the madness and sadness and crazy fuzzy head spinning-ness I will need a happy place. And so I have found one such blessed place on a 5X6 foot washable blanket that sits ten feet outside my back porch.

Here I don’t worry about all that’s UNDONE.  I come with wee ones and we lay and look at all that’s around…on the ground. in the sky.  We watch for the butterflies that are frequenting our backyard these days and I think of my mama…I talk about one such moment with a precious son at this happy place here.  I don’t try to control who anyone is (unless a certain one is trying to tackle a baby sister or make her the candlestick in Jack-be-nimble) or what they SHOULD BE…I just let their joy come and we create pure moments filled with superhero boys and plastic food picnics and love enough to make the world go ‘round.

DSCN5163It is my sincere hope that in choosing this happy place daily, I will find that I somehow become planted within it and soon many other happy places will start to spring up no matter where I am…until all of life be a harvest of happiness.

 

 

Have you found your happy place?  Where or with whom is it? And are you choosing it daily?

DSCN5157

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Thanks is Spreading…

 

Old Sugar Mill and Florida Fall 056

Can you feel it?  The glorious wind of thanks that is spirit in tune with the holy and there are thousands, pray Lord, MILLIONS! of captives in hearts being freed and poured out in thanksgiving to You, Lord…To You Alone!!!

I’m delighting in sharing the uprooting of the hard, lifeless and re-planting in my heart of seeds upon seeds of goodness called thanks.  It’s been a blessing to share the heart being changed as a part of the endless gifts I began with many of you who might read this through an amazing blog and gifted thanks-giver, Ann, at Holy Experience.

Thank You, Lord, for a heart of thanks that CANNOT BE CONTAINED!!!… 

-the blessing of sharing a heart changed by thanks

  • with women of the Gospel ministry world-wide I am blessed to wear one humble pair of shoes and journey with in spreading the good news far and wide
  • with a sweet, sweet church that loves Jesus and is reaching, reaching out and to say, ‘begin the discipline of thanks. grow in more of the gospel speaking grace I see in you!’
  • with a precious community of women being (in) courage-ed here at http://www.incourage.me
  • praying oh praying this is happening by your grace with my family, husband, kids and anyone else I come in contact with…

-for the hard things this week of Thanksgiving…holiday

  • grieving my mother gone and not sharing physically with her
  • my blood family I love deeply being too far away to be with this year
  • aching all the more as I will, Lord willing, be living an ocean away come next Thanksgiving
  • dear friends, here, where I am, who love me who have other plans…I understand, I do
  • I thank you for all of these and how my heart has been sad…I am learning so of that feeling of lostness and unbelonging…didn’t You always feel that, Lord?
  • I thank you Lord that you are continuing to grow me in the tears I have shed for what is hard this Thanksgiving
  • I thank you Lord that you are giving me courage to mature and become the one who receives others and to reach out and to have a heart to find great joy in it…becoming the legacy that I grew up in where we all brought in others…every year…all those without home came to be with us and now I get to do the same:):)
  • I thank you Lord for your unending patience and that you love my tears and do not forsake a one, but see them all…and hug me close…Abba, Daddy…

(#316-335)

You are So, So Good…All the Time, Lord!!!

Your Love Endures Forever!!!!!!!!!

with the Chronicling Psalmist I say it AGAIN!!!!!!!!

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
   his love endures forever.”

I Chronicles 16:34

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

the glorious now

it was in the tiniest

of breaths and smallest

of steps I began a

seeking of the beckoning

beautiful expanse. Though

heart grew faint and limbs

did ache on the

journey has gone. Sweet

peeks taken with

eyes uplifted as

sunshine promises

the encompassing light

refined. Jagged edges

pierced and the roaring

unknown fell fierce but

soul undeterred forged

on. And in the glorious

now I have come to rest

upon blessed last step

bathed in existence beheld

as eyes to eternity meld.

AWA 11/21/2010

One Shoot Sunday @ One Stop Poetry


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away

“The moment that you think that something you do belongs to you, you lose the way.”

~Rigoberta Menchu (from, ‘I Rigoberta’)

In the college years where global conscience was born I knew that this was timeless truth I was being given again.

Gospel speaks:

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”  Matthew 16:25

There in Latin American Culture and Civilization class taught by an amazing lady, Dr. Linda Parkyn, Gospel washing over and freeing heart was beginning to open  to the many suffering and overcoming ones around the world.  Large chip squarely on shoulder was rapidly diminishing…chiseling away lumps of bitterness of the hard and meager of growing up.

Chip that got stuck in the isolation I felt at eating and wearing generic amidst designer-brand middle class prosperity was becoming something altogether different.  Law said I had it bad.  I deserved the middle class of my schoolmates, but Gospel was saying the not having and going without were gifts given.  The doing of winters without heat and numb hands finishing homework, did not belong to me.  They were gifts and if I would give them away then they would become life.

Law says it belongs to me.  I wear it as righteousness—the suffering, doing without, the pain of this valley of tears.  But Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

And so Gospel-conscience was born.  In the pages of Rigoberta’s life of three year-old chores…not picking up toys…but the cooking for family.  The working of fields twice the time decent for adults, let alone babes and sweet, sweet face that had suffered the insufferable.  Her words spoke her life…all those years didn’t belong to her.  Her story must be told.  Her people freed. 

Law would say it belonged to her.  Let pain harden and ask for its due revenge.  But Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Soon after that I sponsored my first Compassion child.  I would keep learning Spanish to be able to give it away to a people like Rigoberta’s.  Seeking, oh seeking to give it all away. Gospel kept speaking Grace and Grace kept giving away. 

I spent a summer in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia (with an organization now called Mission Year) walking streets where blocks away drive by shootings were common.  A place papa wore holes in his pants for nine long weeks praying I’d make it home.  Sorry Papa.  But you’ve been learning the hard way through me.  Law says I belong to you, but Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Gospel kept compelling and I kept going.  Blessed to become Associate Staff as a translator for this organization and serve in Mexico and Honduras.  Rigoberta-like faces and one looking up from toes in the sea, (it still runs Spanish in my head) “why are your eyes green and not brown like ours?”  saying without words, “why have you come, blond-haired, green-eyed one?—why do I matter so much to you?”  Law says this is good deeds and they belong to me…jewels in the One Day’s crown.  But Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Seven years teaching and the gift of precious time with teenagers soon-to-be hardened and speaking Gospel to their attitudes, indifference, lazy-hearted rich-in-this-world and yet oh so poor.  Law says I earned my paycheck and it belonged to me.  Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Rigoberta’s words and their Gospel-lit truth have sounded the gong over my law-bound giving.  The years of giving past and the years now living in “full-time ministry” (one I love and believe in and would love everyone to support in some way) do not belong to me.  Humbled heart knows that giving in far away places was often easier and felt better than facing the pain of home.  That if these sacrificed riches built a righteousness that could somehow wear gospel clothes then I’d be changed.  But Law can bear gospel’s face and cling in belonging to. me. and then lays as lifeless filthy rags.  But Gospel speaks Grace and Grace keeps giving away.

Gospel-living speaks grace-giving most profoundly often in the places of deepest pain…that belonged to us before we knew how to let them go.  The meager days of my youth led me to consciousness of the far away poor but what of the Gospel speaking Grace where the pain was born.  When giving went far and wide and was finally laid aside did running feet come home and find gospel-living grace-giving come to the place where I first belonged. And mama dying gave away Gospel that spoke Grace that keeps giving away.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

John 1:17

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

house of stained glass

Old Sugar Mill and Florida Fall 096
red raw tears run down
heart that beats in sorrow.
dark drops that doubt and fear.
even the sun-glistened have their place
and the blue cool soothing.

thin, fragile, yet strong.
i will not throw stones.

but only Spirit
of the broken and poured
crimson bled flames
azure center ablaze
kindred warmth glows gold
find home in this
house of stained glass.
AWA 11/14/2010

linking with One Shot Wednesday @ OneStopPoetry

Imperfect Prose[3]


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Monday, November 15, 2010

The Way of Mothers

{If you are coming from Ann's, this is an 'old' favorite post that just went so well with hers, that I had to link this one...}

November 13th, 2010

BabyJJ 002 I carried the  blanket all tucked up with the hair just cut OFF of my beautiful, blonde three year-old’s head.  I dumped it in the trash can. (the big one that sits out for the garbage truck) I told myself I needed to.  As it lay in that light-colored clump near the bottom, I reached down and grabbed a handful.  I put it in a bag with this date, November 13, 2010 and stuck it in his baby book. I had to. I am a mother and this is the way of mothers.


I NEEDED to cut his hair…it was curling into his little boy eyes that guide runningAlleman Family Photo Shoot 008 feet all over for this or that ball or to race or to be a super hero.  I kept having to brush it away so he could be a little boy.  But somewhere inside of me I’d been fighting this.  It was like I’d be cutting away a piece of what was chubby baby turned still-chubby toddler but now is undeniably just-a-little chub Boy who becomes full-fledged Boy who becomes Teenager who becomes Adult who flies the coop.  Oh where has the time gone?!   But, then, this is the way of mothers.


I don’t know if the hair will be as blonde the next time I cut it.  Perhaps.  It still bleaches in the sun.  But it’s showing the signs of growing darker, growing up.  And I DO NOT LIKE IT ONE BIT!   Can you please agree?  This is also the way of mothers.


Alleman Family Photo Shoot 013 I would, if I could, capture these moments in some magical way so as to return to infant’s cuddles and toddler’s snuggles.  I would hold back the hands of Time so that my ‘baby’ could remain just that with kissable hurts and tears dried in my lap.  But this is not the way of mothers.


I join generations even back unto the first.  Cain and Abel childhood companions gone terribly wrong.  Oh, how Eve must have grieved.   Sarah who gave long-awaited Isaac over to Abraham to walk an unknown road of sacrifice.  Hannah who surrendered her newly weaned Samuel as promised to her Lord.   Elizabeth with one prized son in her old age.  He prepared the way through a wilderness-living life and died for the Truth he proclaimed.  And then there is Mary.  Ah Mary.  She pondered the prophesies and held them in her heart as she walked a road no mother ever walked nor ever will.  They stand strong and tall in our hallowed hall of remembrance.  For they most definitely walked the way of mothers.


The truth I know is the truth I must embrace evenNature Walk, Open House, etc 146 at the tender age of three.  This son is not mine.  If he is to become the man I pray he will, I cannot hold onto the past and grieve the present and dread the future.  I must walk this way of mothers. 


Listen to that great cloud of witnesses gone before including my own mother.  Draw from the beloved wisdom of so many women who walk ahead many years on this path.  Their courage and faith to embrace the growth of their ‘babies’ has not come without great pain.  And yet I know they would not choose another than the way of mothers.


Nature Walk, Open House, etc 217Still I wonder if in Heaven there won’t be an infinite line of mothers holding precious  Babes..never, ever wanting nor having to let go.  I see my own mama holding the three she never held in this life.  And so many beautiful mama’s redeemed who made choices that have marked their lives with pain that won’t fully heal until that baby is resting in their arms.  Precious others who have lost and who long for This Day when babes taken will be forever in their arms.  And those who have never had but always desired…here, where deepest joy is known their arms won’t be empty.

And so, my heart finds some eternal peace in the bittersweet now of my own growing babe.  For this is the way of mothers.

 
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Linking to A Holy Experience because it just fits this post from 2/16/2011


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Sunday, November 14, 2010

where parable meets Gospel psalm

(here in, dear friend, you will find, my journey in Psalms 37.  Gemmed verses that first spoke words of peace and life, but were unsustainable in first rendering…and through months of meditating and marinating are leading to that Life which is the gospel psalm)

Old Sugar Mill and Florida Fall 005**(in the first two sections  I have underlined all of the words that are either directly in or are a direct paraphrase in Psalms 37)

With hands of trust I dig into this land I will inherit

Promised over and over in this place that sings a psalm—It will be my land.

I unpack my life and choose to dwell here where faithfulness is my food

I trust that I will have enough to live off of in this land and do the good placed before me. 

I commit my dreams for this land into the hands of a good God who says he will act.

I ask for a heart to see and delight in all that He is and drink deeply of the Sun-filled One.

I walk the rows and plant the seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.

And I wait patiently, and sit upon the ground and am still and trust in Him to make it grow.

 Old Sugar Mill and Florida Fall 061

Yes I am still sitting here… 

…waiting…waiting! WAITING!!!

rising. rising! RISING!!!

 

It is not long before I stand in full fret.  I worry about a sun too hot it will scorch and the land does seem to dry as I think it.

No longer sitting in peace, I see another field a flourish—he who sowed to pride and hatred and greed.

I’m pacing these rows now.  I wonder why there are no sprouts of life.  I even uncover precious life-giving soil digging for what I want to see.

I ignore the evil I’ve invited and keep walking this life-ebbing path of worry.

Soon comes raining down upon my land.  The one I am to inherit.  That is to be my faithful food and bear much life—

Flaming arrows of evil.

I see that Enemy firing away to destroy the land of good seed and claim it as his own pride-hatred-greed-filled one.

He draws closer and brandishes his sword of lies and aims right at a heart prone to doubt and fear.

I can but utter one panicked, pleading cry…

 

JESUS!!”

 

In an immediate answer I am picked up and carried as he slays the one come to kill and Old Sugar Mill and Florida Fall 071destroy…more than my land…me.

He touches each singed hair and all of the degrees of burning on me and my land. 

He gently lifts out the scorched places and replaces with new, lush soil.

Where worry has uprooted, he plants new seeds of love and joy and peace and all that He is.

And then he takes my hand and promises:

 

“I will show you, beloved, what it is to live in this land I have promised you.

I will replace your worry, doubt and fear with trust, faith and a courage that will make you strong.

In the light of my love, your land will flourish.  Soon there will be signs of life.

You need not do a thing but look to Me as I redeem this land and place My Name upon it.

I do all the work and give you what you do not have. 

I know you are frail and susceptible to attack.

It is I who fill you with a love big enough so that you can trust Me.

Beloved daughter, I am Lamb of God and ‘All the Glory of Emmanuel’s land.’

Behold Me. 

I will create Life and Beauty in this land. 

Life enough to feed the world and

Beauty enough to draw others to a land where they too can behold. 

They will inherit the land I have for them

and together you will endure forever.

My Kingdom Come.Old Sugar Mill and Florida Fall 072

Beloved. Behold. and Behold. and Behold.

Become. and Become. and Become. 

Glory. and Glory. and Glory.

Forever. and Ever. and Ever.

Amen.”

 

Will you meditate upon this Psalm or another…and find the gospel there??

Thank You Lord—that Great Tender of the soil that is my heart and life:

-for a gospel psalm

-for living after Jesus’ completed work.

-for finding Jesus in every page of Scripture

-for your work—the Work of the Word made Flesh.

-for how you carry me in this life.

-You are my trust

-in Your Grace I dwell

-Your Love is my land, fruit, life, ALL

-You are my highest Delight

-My desire is for You…and You give YOU!

 

-for how the gospel has filled this land…my life, my home

-the joy in each new day with my kids

-the open heart of a little one to continue to initiate even when I turn him down

-the bright hope he finds in “A Booo-i-ful day!!”

-the greetings of our “bunka-boo” as we all run in to get her

-the happy claps and kicking legs when she joins us each day

-the sweetness of perfect Florida fall weather

-the butterflies that daily sail through our yard

-the sacred place made just outside my porch door

-the happy picnics with plastic food

-the way my daughter's bits of hair fly up when she swings

-the way my son says “go HIGHER…HIGHER!”

-the daily walks and that they are gorgeous!

-a husband who loves and eats whatever I make for dinner!!

-that he eats multiple nights of the same leftovers!!

(#288-315)


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